A man works the line at Emma's Torch in Brooklyn.

ICE Alumni with Careers that Give Back

Culinary, pastry and management grads use food for philanthropy in restaurants, nonprofits and beyond.

Emma's Torch photo by Giada Randaccio Skouras Sweeny

The holiday season is a time for gifting and we’re celebrating ICE alumni who use their education to give back year-round. These chefs are passing education on or donating proceeds to charitable organizations through food and you can help by tasting, dining or donating.

  • Nickie Alston (Culinary, ‘14) founded ASun Star, Inc., which provides social services, including a culinary learning program, to families in New Jersey. Nickie also co-founded online lifestyle community Stiletto District and works as a private chef.

    How you can help: ASun Star collects toy donations for Christmas gifts and hosts. See more events and volunteer opportunities online.

  • Alexis Aquino (Culinary, ‘10) is the head culinary instructor for The Fedcap Group, a network of nonprofits working to empower people facing economic insecurity. Alexis began teaching others to cook as a culinary instructor at Harlem Children’s Zone. Fedcap provides a range of job training and placement services and other empowerment initiatives for youth, adults, veterans and people living with disabilities.

    How you can help: Fedcap hosts seasonal fundraising events and supporters can donate online.

  • Kerry Brodie (Culinary, ‘17) is the founder of Emma’s Torch, a program that provides paid culinary training for refugees, asylees and survivors of human trafficking. The apprenticeship includes English lessons and job readiness workshops. Participants progress from prep to working the line to catering events at and beyond the organization’s brick-and-mortar restaurant in Brooklyn.

    How you can help: Emma’s Torch is open for dinner Tuesday to Sunday and brunch on weekends. Inquire about catering, private events and party favors online.

    Emma's Torch photo by Giada Randaccio Skouras Sweeny
    Emma's Torch photo by Giada Randaccio Skouras Sweeny
  • Sara Deseran (Culinary, ‘96) is the marketing and branding director at Tacolicious, a San Francisco taco stand that’s grown to five Bay Area locations. Sara oversees the restaurant’s philanthropic mission, the School Project, which donates 15 percent of Monday proceeds to local public schools. The company also partners with education organizations and has donated more than $1 million to public education to date.

    How you can help: Dine at any Tacolicious location on a Monday from January to April and see which local school you’re supporting online.

  • Naseem Kapdi (Pastry, ‘14) is the training manager and lead instructor at Hot Bread Kitchen, a baking cooperative with a training program and an incubator in Harlem. Naseem teaches baking and English to women dealing with economic insecurity, and Hot Bread Kitchen promotes fair wages and food entrepreneurship.

    How you can help: Hot Bread Kitchen’s variety of breads are available for purchase at New York City greenmarkets and online.

    Naseem works with a student at Hot Bread Kitchen.
    Naseem works with a student at Hot Bread Kitchen.
  • Marc Murphy (Culinary, '90) works with a variety of philanthropic organizations, from City Harvest in New York to the Surfrider Foundation in California. In 2013, Marc won Share Our Strength's Humanitarian of the Year award for his work with the organization's No Kid Hungry campaign. He's a member of the American Chef Corps, Culintro's advisory board and Food and Finance High School’s industry advisory board.

    How you can help: Donate or attend events to support any of the seven organizations with which Marc partners.

  • Jackie Ourman (Culinary/Management, ‘13) is the director of partnerships and outreach for End Allergies Together (EAT), a nonprofit funding research to cure life-threatening food allergies, in Connecticut. When Jackie was diagnosed with celiac disease and had children with life-threatening allergies, she attended ICE and started a food blog, Celiac and Allergy Friendly Epicurean (CAFE), to help others living with related challenges.

    "The fact that one bite of food can end anyone’s life is unfathomable to me, especially considering the importance of eating to fulfill basic needs and bring people together socially," Jackie says. "I am passionate about changing that for the 17 million people who live with this invisible illness, including my own children."

    How you can help: EAT has an online store with gifts and apparel and accepts online donations. Jackie suggests raising awareness with EAT's campaign regarding how to handle anaphylaxis: “Give Epinephrine and Go Call 911.” 

  • Gina Spadola (Pastry, ‘06) is the senior program coordinator for FeedNYC, an emergency food database fighting hunger in New York City. Gina’s worked with United Way of New York City since 2016, has bakery experience at Whole Foods and volunteers with God’s Love We Deliver, a NYC meal delivery organization.

    How you can help: See events, advocacy opportunities and donation information online.

Find purpose in your culinary career with an ICE education.

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