Crudite is served at NGI's 40th anniversary event.

Natural Gourmet Institute Alumni to Know

NGI alumni succeed in health-supportive careers, from chefs and restaurant owners to cookbook authors and wellness influencers.

Graduates of the Chef's Training Program at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts have gone on to open healthy, plant-based, vegetable-forward and vegetarian restaurants; host web series and found lifestyle brands; and become nutritionists and physicians using food for healing. Meet influential NGI alumni for inspiration from health-supportive career paths.

NGI chef instructors and students cooked at the school's 40th anniversary event.
NGI chef instructors and students cooked at the school's 40th anniversary event.
  • Jay Astafa opened Long Island's first entirely vegan restaurant, 3 Brothers Vegan Cafe, and founded a plant-based catering and experiential events company in New York and Los Angeles called PLANT [r]ebel events.
  • Amanda Cohen is the chef-owner of Dirt Candy, a vegetable-focused restaurant on New York City's Lower East Side, which celebrated 10 years in 2018. The chef features seasonal vegetables as main courses, without a lifestyle or political focus, innovating with constantly changing ingredients.
  • Neely Cohen learned to harvest cacao fruit in South America and opened a bean-to-bar chocolate factory and café, Vicuña Chocolate, in Peterborough, New Hampshire. In 2017, she sold her chocolate company and returned to Tel Aviv to be a culinary tour guide with Delicious Israel.
  • Chloe Coscarelli is a vegan cookbook author and chef in Los Angeles. She attended the Natural Gourmet Institute's Chef's Training Program in 2010 and has since published four books and developed the menus at by CHLOE.
  • Pablo Garcia co-founded, a health coaching business and wellness blog for men that covers nutrition, physical performance and personal growth.
  • Dustin Harder is the host and creator of The Vegan Roadie, a web series through which he explores vegan businesses and showcases plant-based food from chefs around the country.
  • Alexandra Jamieson is a nutrition coach and has published three cookbooks, including the popular “Living Vegan for Dummies.” She is also co-creator the celebrated documentary, “Super Size Me.”
  • Elyse Kopecky has co-written two cookbooks for runners with friend and Olympic silver medalist Shalane Flanagan: “Run Fast Eat Slow: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes” and “Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.: Quick-Fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes.”
  • Erica Leazenby is a family physician and natural food chef practicing functional and lifestyle medicine at Relish Health in Indianapolis. She incorporates culinary medicine, including using whole food, plant-based diets as a therapeutic technique.
  • Davis Lindsey is the director of the Growing Farmers Initiative at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York.
  • Cara Mangini founded Little Eater, two Ohio restaurants specializing in seasonal, vegetable-forward fare. The Columbus-based chef authored award-winning cookbook “The Vegetable Butcher.”
  • Tal Ronnen is the chef at Crossroads in Los Angeles. Known for his vegan cooking, Chef Tal served the first vegan dinner at the U.S. Senate, prepared meals for Oprah's 21-day cleanse, and catered Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s wedding.
  • Stefanie Sacks is a certified nutrition specialist and certified dietitian nutritionist and has a masters of science. She consults,writes and speaks about health and published, “What the Fork Are You Eating?: An Action Plan for Your Pantry and Plate” in 2014.
  • Alissa Wagner co-founded Dimes, a hip, vegetable-forward restaurant in New York City’s Lower East Side, which includes a deli, market and catering.

Explore ICE's Health-Supportive Culinary Arts program at our new Natural Gourmet Center.

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