Students plate dishes from ICE's Health-Supportive Culinary Arts curriculum.

Introducing the New Natural Gourmet Center

The Institute of Culinary Education announces a Health-Supportive Culinary Arts program.

Aspiring chefs interested in health-specific cooking or committed to plant-based, pescetarian, vegetarian or vegan lifestyles are in luck: ICE now offers a vegetable-forward, holistic, integrative curriculum inspired by the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI). In March, Health-Supportive Culinary Arts career training begins at our New York City campus — and the first students get a discount on tuition.

Chefs, food lovers and home cooks alike have seen America’s shift towards more plant-based, health-conscious dining. Fast Company, Foodable Labs and Nation’s Restaurant News have all reported on the rise in plant-based menu items, from restaurants to fast food to delivery, this year.

“Growing consumer interest in health, sustainability and ethics is driving plant-derived ingredients and products into high popularity,” FoodBev media reported in July.

Foodable reports that “plant-based protein has morphed into so much more than a trend, it's a movement;” and Forbes says, “expect more meat-alternatives in the market, including plants, insects, lentils, soy, dairy-free protein alternatives going mainstream.”

Founded in 1977, the Natural Gourmet Institute taught plant-based cooking long before the practice was trending. Dr. Annemarie Colbin started the classes in her Upper West Side apartment — much like ICE founder Peter Kump — and based the school’s curriculum on seven principles of food selection: whole, fresh, seasonal, traditional, balanced, local and delicious. ICE’s new Natural Gourmet Center will continue sourcing ingredients in accordance with these standards and carry on the Natural Gourmet community’s tradition of nutrition, health and wellness.

“Natural Gourmet was really into superfoods before anyone even knew they were superfoods,” says Amanda Cohen, chef and owner of Dirt Candy and NGI alum. “There’s a lot that the Natural Gourmet can teach you, which makes you a better cook because you have more ingredients to play with.”

The Health-Supportive Culinary Arts curriculum includes lessons on foods that heal, sea vegetables, soy foods, beans and grains, vegan and vegetarian stocks and sauces, flourless desserts, raw foods, and spa and retreat cuisine. Many of NGI’s renowned chef-instructors — including Barbara Rich, Ann Nunziata and Olivia Roszkowski — will bring decades of expertise on these topics to ICE, which is offering a $2,000 discount on tuition for the first two classes.

Students in the program will complete a 200-hour externship in New York, where ICE’s career services team has placed more than 500 students in more than 300 establishments each year. Among restaurants where ICE students have externed, several vegetable-forward establishments will appeal to incoming students, including abcV, Avant Garden, Egg and Untitled.

The program ideally integrates with ICE’s sustainability initiatives and the indoor hydroponic garden at our New York campus, where students can harvest edible flowers and vegetables for use in dishes.

Chef Barbara Rich plates seared tempeh with cilantro.
Chef Barbara Rich plates seared tempeh with cilantro.

"As our sustainability efforts grow at ICE, it’ll be great working with the programming that NGI has used and incorporating the new curriculum into our hydroponic farm and zero-waste initiatives," says Director of Sustainability Bill Telepan.

NGI alumni have succeeded as restaurant chefs, personal chefs, nutritionists, cookbook authors, lifestyle and wellness influencers, and thought leaders in the plant-based and health food spaces.

"What's unique about the program is the fact that we use unprocessed foods, we use all organic ingredients and we're able to teach people to cook in ways that they didn't think they could, so that they can go out and teach people how to be healthy," says Barbara Rich, former Natural Gourmet Institute chef instructor and ICE's new Culinary Arts lead chef-instructor. "For someone interested in this kind of education you'll get so much more out of it than you ever thought possible."

Learn more about the program and inquire for a tour to explore your career goals.

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