Plant-Based Culinary Arts Associate Degree Program

Earn an associate degree in 14 months with ICE's Plant-Based Culinary Arts (formerly known as Health-Supportive Culinary Arts) & Management program.

Diploma Program

Plant-Based Culinary Arts and Management Degree Program

Pursue your culinary ambitions with an education that combines hands-on cooking fundamentals in the kitchen classroom with management training at our Los Angeles campus and general education courses online on your own schedule. Our new hybrid associate degree program features the Institute of Culinary Education's reputable plant-based culinary career training, instructor expertise, convenient class schedules and established network in the industry. You'll get hands-on training in professionally equipped kitchens with quality ingredients such as fresh vegetables and whole grains, have access to the learning resource center on campus and experience real-world work at a food business on an externship.

Our program consists of Plant-Based Culinary Arts, Restaurant & Culinary Management and applied general education courses.

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Quick Facts

Program Duration: 14 months
Class Times: morning, afternoon or evening and online
Tuition, Fees & Charges: $47,950
Open House: June 24th, 2023

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Plant-Based Culinary Arts

Our Plant-Based Culinary Arts career training program teaches the practice and art of cooking through theory, technique, palate training, speed and teamwork. Our exclusive curriculum promotes vegetables, whole foods, nutrition, wellness and sustainability with plant-based cooking and vegetable-forward recipes inspired by the Natural Gourmet Institute. Plant-based cooking can optimize plant-based, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, while including instructional exposure to proteins. The program explores food as medicine and diets such as Ayurvedic, macrobiotic, gluten-free and dairy-free. Over the course of the program, you'll experience lessons with multiple chef-instructors exposing you to a variety of mentors with different perspectives and areas of expertise in plant-based cooking (including vegan recipes) and other healthy culinary techniques.

A Restaurant & Culinary Management class at ICE's Los Angeles campus

Culinary Management

ICE’s Restaurant & Culinary Management program offers pragmatic training in restaurant management, operations and entrepreneurship. Our experienced instructors will teach you how to develop profitable concepts, write a business plan and market your venture to a target audience interested in healthy cooking and plant-based eating. You'll get a sense of how to troubleshoot restaurant and bar management issues concerning operations and staffing, analyze changing trends and make fiscal modifications to keep a business profitable. You'll train to make strategic business decisions with case studies, role-playing and group projects; have a chance to gain valuable professional insights from prominent guest lecturers; and study menu design, social media marketing, kitchen and interior design, and wine tasting and appreciation.

A student studies online

Applied General Education Online Classes

Students take online courses that are relevant to restaurant industry careers, such as the history and culture of food, social psychology, business communication, leadership, change management and more. You'll study subjects as they apply to the business of foodservice, including written and verbal communication strategies as they relate to recipe writing, reviewing, food blogging and culinary demonstrations; team building through developing and empowering people; and nutrition in terms of dietary preferences and the relationship between diet, health and disease.

See Curriculum Below

Gabrielle Russo at SingleThread


You'll have the opportunity to train in a restaurant, hotel, catering kitchen, food media or other culinary business that fits your personal career goals. Our Career Services team will help you find a placement among our hundreds of industry connections. Time and time again, ICE graduates tell us that their externship experience was instrumental in providing mentorship, networking opportunities and connections.

Plant-Based Culinary Arts Associate Degree

Program Highlights

Plant-Based Culinary Arts

  • Study fundamental cooking techniques including sautéing, roasting, blanching, braising and pressure cooking.
  • ​Explore the essential flavor profiles and classic dishes involved in Ayurvedic, macrobiotic and world cuisines.
  • Pursue modern cooking techniques including sous vide, fermentation, preserving and contemporary plating.
  • Train in the art of plant-based cooking through theory, technique, palate development, speed and teamwork.

Plant-Based Pastry & Baking Arts

  • Study the fundamentals of pastry and baking, which can be applied to sweet and savory cooking, restaurants and catering.
  • Create pastries & baked goods using alternative flours and fats to meet special dietary needs.

Restaurant & Culinary Management

  • Explore the interplay between concept development, menu design, pricing and profitability​.
  • Study the basics of cost control and restaurant accounting, including the development of a business plan.
  • Examine "the people side" of the business as it relates to staff supervision and service management.

General Education and Career Development

  • Develop written and verbal communication skills as they relate to recipe writing, reviewing, food blogging and culinary demonstrations. ​​
  • Explore the interconnections between cuisine, historical events and international locations, and the growth of America's culinary culture. ​​
  • Connect personal, professional and financial goals to examine how they contribute to career and personal success, as well as the ​​importance of leadership and team-building. ​
  • Study the basics of nutrition and the relationship between diet, health, nutrients and how a culinary professional can use this knowledge.

This 61-credit hybrid program leads to an associate’s degree in occupational studies (AOS). It is composed of:

  • 24 credits in Plant-Based Culinary Arts, offered on campus (except externship which is at a foodservice site).
  • 21 credits in Culinary Management, offered on campus.
  • 16 credits in applied general education, offered online.

Program duration varies according to the schedule option selected. The length of time normally required for completion of each schedule option is determined by calculating the average number of weeks including student-free days and holidays. International students should note that this Associate's Degree program qualifies for F-1 visa applications.  

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Tuition and Starts

  • Cost:  $47,950
  • Start: June 8th, 2023
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Plant-Based Culinary Arts

  • Morning or afternoon (24 weeks)
  • Five days (20 hours/week)
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Restaurant & Culinary Management

  • Morning, afternoon or evening (24 weeks)
  • Three days (12 hours/week)
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  • 9 weeks (40 hours/week)
  • Off-site at a foodservice establishment
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Applied General Education

  • Six online courses
  • 17 weeks
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Potential Career Paths

  • Chef
  • Restaurant Management
  • Food media
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Food and Beverage Operations
  • Hospitality
  • Hotel Operations

Tuition, Fees and Charges Include:

Kitchen tools and knives
Chef jackets
Chef pants
Application fee
All applicable taxes

Take the Next Step

Why Choose ICE

You know it's in you — the ambition to pursue a rewarding career in health-supportive, plant-based food. Attending culinary school is one of the best ways to begin the journey. ICE is ready to help you find your culinary voice.

12 Reasons Why You Should Choose ICE.


Ready to take your interest in ICE further? Speak to an admissions representative about your personal goals, start your application or download our career brochure so you can access information about our career programs anytime.

Admissions Services

Applying to ICE

ICE Career Brochure

Fundamentals of Plant-Based Cuisine

2.0 credits

Focusing on fundamental culinary techniques and criteria for selecting quality ingredients, this course will offer an introduction to the foundation for preparing health-supportive, whole-foods cuisine.

Course highlights:

  • Knife skills training.
  • Principles of food science.
  • Culinary techniques including sauté, roast, blanch, braise and pressure cook.
  • Exploring the health benefits, healing qualities and versatility of sea vegetables and how to prepare them.
  • Dishes include: arame strudel; wakame salad; with orange and coconut-lime flan.

Soy, Grains, and Legumes

2.0 credits

In this course, we continue your education on plant-forward cuisine to include a variety of bean and grain, seitan, stock, soup and sauce preparations. We also teach how to prepare eggs in a variety of savory and sweet applications. 

Course highlights:

  • Identifying and preparing a variety of beans in salads, purées, stews and soups.
  • Identifying and preparing whole grains using various techniques.
  • Preparing vegan and vegetarian stocks using traditional culinary techniques.
  • Preparing vegan and vegetarian versions of mother sauces and other modern vegan sauces.
  • Preparing soups and stews.
  • Preparing soufflés, custards and emulsified sauces.
  • Dishes include: curried red lentil soup with coconut; beet borscht with tofu sour cream; shiitake broth with shrimp, soba and baby bok choy; and baked quinoa with fresh peas and herbs.

Concept Development & Menu Design

2.0 credits

This course is designed to acquaint students with the realities of a culinary business concept — from creativity to profitability. By surveying the industry, students explore all types of operations and analyze concepts, as well as research feasibility and location selection. Students gain the knowledge required to develop and refine their ideas. This course also gives a comprehensive view of key aspects of the menu, including planning, pricing, layout and design. Students prepare sample menus as a project, which will become part of their final business plans.

Purchasing and Cost Control

3.0 credits

Strategies for purchasing and control are vital for the success of any culinary operation. This course examines labor, beverage and food costs, and revenue control. Purchasing guidelines, inventory and control, employee performance standards, productivity and scheduling, use of point-of-sale systems, computers and new technology are also reviewed.

Social Psychology and Interpersonal Relations

3.0 credits

This course will examine social context and the way it influences our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Students will be encouraged to reflect on the application of social psychology concepts to real-world problems and to incorporate concepts explored in class to relevance in their own lives.


2.0 credits

Culinary businesses are marketing businesses from the moment an idea is developed through opening and operation. This course provides an in-depth examination of how a marketing plan is developed, including market research, positioning, product mix and life cycle. This includes development of potential strategies for advertising, merchandising, public relations, social media and promotion.

Service Management

2.0 credits

Managing the front of the house requires particular knowledge and skill. Students are introduced to the tools and techniques of service and service management in restaurants and other foodservice operations. This course also covers how to build customer satisfaction.

Business Communications

3.0 credits

This course introduces students to the foundations of communication in a culinary business setting. This course will examine and apply the types and purposes of various business documents; create messages using appropriate channels for delivery based on context, audience and purpose; and explore the effect of technology, such as social media on business communication. Students will also study written and verbal communication strategies as they relate to recipe writing, reviewing, food blogging and culinary demonstrations.

High-Protein Foods

2.0 credits

In this course, we prepare soups and stews highlighting whole grains, beans, vegetables and non-dairy alternatives. We teach how protein sources come in a variety of forms — both plant and animal. We also teach how to source and prepare poultry, fish and shellfish, as well as how to prepare soy foods in health-conscience, traditional forms.

Course highlights:

  • Identifying and preparing traditional soy foods, such as tempeh, tofu, edamame, miso, shoyu and tamari.
  • Fabricating and preparing poultry, finfish and shellfish.
  • Making seitan and preparing it in a variety of ways.
  • Plating theory.
  • Identifying and preparing traditional soy foods, such as tempeh, tofu, edamame, miso, shoyu and tamari.
  • Dishes include: stuffed poblano chilies with browned tempeh; hazelnut-crusted flounder with mango salsa; and golden turmeric panna cotta with ginger-pepper lace cookies.

Advanced Culinary Applications

2.0 credits

In this course, you will apply your growing command of health-supportive techniques to preparing salads, hors d’oeuvres, pâtés and terrines, and a buffet. In the career realm, you will hone your skills at menu planning and recipe writing while exploring career paths in personal and private cooking, catering and teaching. You will also study theoretical approaches to the energetics of food, factors that impact longevity, and the role of fats, protein and carbohydrates in a healthy, whole-foods diet.

Course highlights:

  • Preparing pâtés and terrines.
  • Preparing salads that showcase whole, seasonal ingredients.
  • Writing and formatting a recipe properly.
  • Learning how to design menus that are nutritious and balanced according to the program’s criteria.
  • Preparing a balanced, health-supportive brunch and buffet menus.
  • Preparing appetizers, entrees and desserts to order.
  • Dishes include: massaged kale salad with roasted chickpeas and pickled red onions; truffled portobello mousse with fig-thyme preserve; and Asian buckwheat noodle salad.

Food Safety

1.0 credit

Proper food handling and safety procedures are important elements of a successful culinary business. In this course, students earn the nationally recognized ServSafe certification while learning the essential principles of food safety.

Finance and Accounting

3.0 credits

A working understanding of numbers is critically important to culinary success. The curriculum for this course focuses on the use of financial statements as a tool for control and decision-making. Topics include balance sheets, statements of net income, break-even analysis, cash flow and financing. Budgets, industry standards and variation analyses are emphasized. Actual case studies are used to provide real experience.

Supervisory Management and Food Service Law

3.0 credits

People are the most important resource in any culinary business. In this course, students focus on the major functions of management, including leadership, motivation, communication, hiring practices, recruitment, training, discipline and staff organization. In addition, this course focuses on the legal rights and responsibilities of owners and operators. Topics include labor relations, employment law, real estate and contracts. Various business structures are also surveyed.

The History and Culture of Food

2.0 credits

This course explores the importance of food and foodservice throughout history, from prehistoric times to the present. The historical influence on modern foodservice is analyzed, and culinary trends in history are identified and investigated. Topics will include the relation of food to personal and cultural identity and the interconnections between cuisine, historical events and international locations.

Baking and Desserts

2.0 credits

The quality of our baking and desserts can benefit from using ingredients that are more natural, unprocessed and whole. In this course, we convert conventional baking recipes to alternatives featuring whole-grain flours and less-refined sweeteners, without sacrificing taste or texture. You will also prepare baked goods and desserts that meet special dietary needs, such as vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free.

Course highlights: 

  • Preparing pies, tarts and galettes using vegan ingredients.
  • Baking and decorating cakes.
  • Preparing vegan cookies, puddings and ice creams.
  • Preparing flourless desserts.
  • Understanding how to utilize sugar, butter and white flour alternatives.
  • Dishes include: chocolate cherry pecan bars; ginger cake with lemon coconut cream; and black sesame ice cream.

Bread and Pasta

2.0 credits

As you continue to explore the art and science of baking, you will focus on yeasted breads, quick breads, pizza and focaccia with wheat-free and gluten-free options. This course also includes pasta making.

Course highlights: 

  • Preparing quick breads, scones, pancakes, crêpes, waffles and biscuits.
  • Preparing hearth and pan breads.
  • Using alternative flours and ingredients in bread baking.
  • Preparing ravioli, tortellini, fettucine and gnocchi.
  • Preparing and serving a healthful brunch à la minute.
  • Dishes include: herb ravioli with porcini mushroom pesto and tofu ricotta; wild rice pancakes; and bulgur raisin pan bread.

Food and Applied Nutrition

3.0 credits

An introductory course in the study of the principles of human nutritional needs. Students examine current dietary guidelines, the function of nutrients and dietary preferences. Students will study menus and recipes for modifications to optimize nutritional content and balance the current trends in nutritional study with culinary and baking techniques. The course highlights the relationship between diet, health, disease and how applied nutrition can benefit not only immune-challenged populations but average healthy populations as well.

Beverage and Wine

2.0 credits

Beverage sales is a challenging business. This course explores all areas of beverage service, including wine, spirits, beer, mixology, nonalcoholic drinks and bar design. Wine tasting and appreciation are included. Students will study proper alcohol service and receive safe beverage service certification.

Facilities and Design

2.0 credits

This course examines how to bring a concept to life, from design through construction and final inspection. Whether planning to renovate or build a restaurant from scratch, students gain insight into capital costs and budgeting, as well as how to work with architects, designers and contractors. Topics include equipment and systems basics, space analysis, product and people flows, and kitchen and interior design.

Food and Healing 1 and Advanced Culinary Techniques

2.0 credits

The link between diet, lifestyle and wellness is well-established, and this course will provide perspectives on this relationship by looking at cardiovascular system health, the microbiome and detoxification systems. On the culinary side, we prepare raw foods, living foods and spa and retreat specialties. You will also focus on improvisational cooking using seasonal ingredients and developing a vegan, four-course banquet project.

Course highlights:

  • Improvisational cooking.
  • Preparing spa and retreat cuisine.
  • Preparing raw foods.
  • Recipe costing and testing.
  • Dishes include: pomegranate, blueberry and ginger elixir; vegetable and tempeh wraps with avocado-cilantro cream; and Mediterranean roasted black cod with muhammara.

Food and Healing 2 and Advanced World Cuisines

2.0 credits

This course extends the emphasis on integrative health as it explores food and the immune system, kitchen pharmacy, diets designed to promote cancer prevention and treatment support, Ayurveda and Macrobiotics. You will prepare specialty dishes from Asia, Mexico, India and Italy.

Course highlights:

  • Preparing dishes and meals designed to boost immunity.
  • Preparing Macrobiotic cuisine.
  • Preparing Ayurvedic cuisine.
  • Preparing world cuisine menus.
  • Presenting a four-course vegan banquet.
  • Dishes include: hiziki with carrots, onions and agé tofu; burdock, carrot and onion kimpura; and eggplant buns with fermented plum condiment.

Career and Self-Management

2.0 credits

This course is designed to enhance student success in transitioning to, and succeeding in, the hospitality industry by providing career planning tools, expected behaviors and soft skills essential for career success. The course emphasizes three key areas for professional success: life planning, workplace skills and career planning. Students study how to connect personal, professional and financial goals and how these goals ultimately contribute to career and personal success.

Leadership, Team Building and Change Management

3.0 credits

Great leadership goes beyond good management and permeates a culture. This course will explore leadership variables and principles, the power of vision, the importance of ethics, the empowerment of people, understanding people, multiplying effectiveness, developing others and performance management. Additionally, in this course, students will identify their own leadership styles and how best to utilize them to maximize leadership through organizational change and team building.


4.0 credits

This is the last course in the program in which students work at a foodservice-related site. While ICE strongly recommends that students extern in restaurant kitchens, they may request venues such as hotels, catering companies, corporate dining rooms or test kitchens in accordance with their professional goals.

Proven Results

From 1977 to 2018, the Natural Gourmet Institute graduated more than 2,500 professional chefs from 33 countries who became chefs, entrepreneurs, teachers, nutritionists, authors and even physicians. Meet some of the NGI community's thought leaders:

  • Pablo Garcia, co-founder of, a health coaching business and wellness blog for men.
  • Dustin Harder, host and creator of “The Vegan Roadie” web series, on which he explores vegan businesses and plant-based food across America.
  • Elyse Kopecky, co-author of two cookbook for runners: "Run Fast Eat Slow: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes" and "Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.: Quick-Fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes."
  • Stefanie Sacks, certified nutrition specialist and certified dietitian nutritionist, consultant, radio host, blogger and author of “What the Fork Are You Eating?”
  • Bryant Terry, author of "Afro Vegan" and chef-in-residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco.

The Institute of Culinary Education also has successful alumni serving health-supportive and/or plant-based cuisine:

  • Abbie Gellman (Culinary, '01), dietitian, chef, founder of Culinary Nutrition Cuisine LLC and scientific advisor to Jenny Craig.
  • Vivian Howard (Culinary, '03), chef and owner of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, North Carolina.
  • Dan Long (Culinary, '04), founder of fast-casual salad chain MAD Greens in Colorado.
  • Cai Pandolfini (Culinary, '03), owner of five locations of plant-based cafe Green & Tonic in Westport, Connecticut.
  • Pnina Peled (Culinary, '00), senior executive chef at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
  • Guy Vaknin (Culinary, '07), founder of Beyond Sushi Inc. in New York City.

Meet a few Natural Gourmet Institute alumni below.

Amanda Cohen is the chef-owner of Dirt Candy.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.

Chef Cohen is from Ottawa, Canada, and attended the Natural Gourmet Institute's Chef's Training Program in 1998. "NGI really gave me the tools to go into kitchens and feel really comfortable," she said. "And one of the things you start discovering is that everybody who walks into a kitchen really doesn’t know anything. Every kitchen is a new environment. And the school gave me a sense of history with food."

After culinary school, she worked with Bobby Flay and helped open a vegan tea room before debuting Dirt Candy in October 2008. The restaurant had 18 seats for its first seven years before moving to 86 Allen St. in 2015. Dirt Candy has been called "the future of vegetarian restaurants" by the Village Voice; "the absolute best restaurant on the Lower East Side" by New York Magazine; and "one of America's 100 best restaurants for wine" by Wine Enthusiast.

Chef Cohen has competed on "Iron Chef" and appeared as a guest judge on "Top Chef Canada." She wrote "Dirt Candy: A Cookbook," North America’s first graphic novel cookbook, and was one of the first NYC chefs to eliminate tipping and restructure compensation for her staff. Chef Cohen was nominated for a James Beard Award, Best Chef: NYC, in 2014 and 2018.

Tal Ronnen is the chef at Crossroads in LA.
Tal Ronnen photo by Elizabeth Daniels

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. He graduated from NGI's Chef's Training Program in 2004 and gained experience at Candle 79 in New York City, Madeleine Bistro in LA and Sublime in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Tal opened Crossroads in 2013. The Mediterranean vegan eatery has since been recognized as one of the "best vegan restaurants in America" by Tasting Table, the "best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles" by Travel & Leisure, and "99 essential restaurants" by L.A. Weekly. 

Chef Tal has published two cookbooks: "Crossroads: Extraordinary Recipes from the Restaurant That Is Reinventing Vegan Cuisine" and "The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat."

Meet more NGI alumni in health-supportive and plant-based careers here.

Mashama Bailey is a graduate of Institute of Culinary Education

Mashama Bailey

Mashama learned to cook from the women in her family and attended the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) to formalize that education, then studied in France and explored food through travel. She spent a dozen years cooking at New York City restaurants, including at Prune for her friend and mentor, Gabrielle Hamilton, for four years. Now executive chef of The Grey in Savannah, Mashama was nominated as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Southeast award in 2018, among other accolades. She is a vice chairman on the board of the Edna Lewis Foundation, honoring the legacy of the chef who greatly influenced Mashama’s menu at The Grey.

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Maxime Bilet is an ICE graduate

Maxime Bilet

Maxime Bilet first earned a bachelor’s degree in English and American literature and creative writing from Skidmore College. He then came to ICE and, after graduating, quickly climbed the ranks to become the executive chef of Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar — a position he earned a year after graduation. Next, he moved to London where he worked for famed chef Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck, first as a prep cook then as a lab cook in the chef’s development kitchen.

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Esther Choi is a graduate of Institute of Culinary Education

Esther Choi

mŏkbar chef and owner Esther Choi grew up cooking traditional Korean food with her Korean-native grandmother. So while Esther was born in New Jersey and spent her early childhood in the oceanside town of Egg Harbor, she was always keenly aware of her Korean heritage. That awareness morphed into immersion when her family moved to Korea for three years, because her parents wanted to ensure that their children would cherish Korean culture. Esther enthusiastically embraced her parents’ goal – her mission today is to broaden New Yorkers’ understanding and appreciation of Korean culture through her food. Esther's formal training as a chef began at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), continuing in the kitchens of ilili and La Esquina, as well as that of the Food Network.

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