plant-based culinary arts students

Plant-Based Culinary Arts

Our Plant-Based Culinary Arts (formerly known as Health-Supportive Culinary Arts) program offers a holistic approach to plant-based, nutrition-minded cooking with a focus on whole foods and wellness.

Diploma Program

Harvest a Plant-Forward Future

The Institute of Culinary Education brings Plant-Based Culinary Arts (formerly known as Health-Supportive Culinary Arts) career training to the West Coast! Our exclusive curriculum promotes whole foods, nutrition, wellness and sustainability with vegetable-forward recipes inspired by the Natural Gourmet Institute. Plant-based cooking can optimize vegetarian, vegan, and health-conscious lifestyles, while including instructional exposure to proteins. The program explores food as medicine and diets such as Ayurvedic, macrobiotic, gluten-free or dairy-free.

Explore earning an associate degree.



Quick Facts

Program duration: 8-12 months
Class times: morning, afternoon, evening
Tuition, Fees & Charges: $34,948
Open House: June 24th, 2023

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ICE & Natural Gourmet

America's #1 Ranked Culinary School* offers a nationally accredited, plant-based, health-supportive curriculum. This unique program was developed by Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D., who pioneered the concept of food as medicine in America and founded the Natural Gourmet Cookery School in 1977, which she expanded into the renowned Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI). In 2019, the educational institutions collaborated to offer NGI’s unique plant-forward approach to cooking at Institute of Culinary Education. Today, the program combines a holistic view of food and nutrition, with creativity and innovation in every kitchen classroom. 

Assorted plant-based dishes from the Plant-Based Culinary Arts curriculum

Foundations of the Plant-Based Curriculum

Seven specific criteria for making mindful and deliberate decisions when sourcing ingredients lie at the foundation of ICE’s Plant-Based Culinary Arts curriculum. These ingredient-sourcing criteria — whole, fresh, seasonal, traditional, balanced, local and delicious — promote a sustainable food system with regard for natural resources and people, while empowering chefs and cooks to lead the conversation about food, wellness and health. These principles extend to the pastry modules, which use ingredients that are more natural, unprocessed and whole than traditional ingredients. Students are taught how to convert conventional baking recipes to alternatives featuring whole-grain flours and less-refined sweeteners, and how to prepare baked goods and desserts that meet special dietary needs, such as vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free.

Students work with sea vegetables in the Plant-Based Culinary Arts program.

Food & Healing through Plant-Based Cooking

Food has the powerful potential to heal the body. Our plant-forward cooking classes focus on the health-supportive qualities of ingredients and cooking techniques. In the kitchen, students will be taught how to prepare raw foods, living foods, spa and retreat specialties and how to improvise using seasonal ingredients. In the classroom, our expert instructors will discuss the link between diet, lifestyle and wellness by looking at cardiovascular system health, food and the immune system, the microbiome and detoxification systems. The program will also explore popular diets including paleo, keto, Ayurveda and macrobiotics.

See what recent graduates say about the program.

Natural Gourmet Center externships


Students are required to apply the skills and techniques taught in the classroom in professional kitchens or workplaces through a 200-hour externship that completes the program. ICE’s career services division will help you find the best position for developing, learning, gaining work experience and building a professional network in your desired field.

various spices

A Career in Plant-Based Cuisine

ICE alumni and the NGI alumni before them have gone on to open vegetable-centric restaurants, write cookbooks, become personal chefs for athletes and celebrities, launch food companies and health initiatives, and direct culinary operations for a wide variety of organizations including Wellness in the Schools and The Sylvia Center.

Aspiring nutritionists, chefs and restaurateurs can apply plant-based cooking skills in their careers and ICE’s holistic, wellness-minded approach to the culinary arts translates to many food-focused career paths:

  • On the East Coast, NGI alum Amanda Cohen founded NYC’s most notable and famed vegetable-forward restaurant, Dirt Candy, and ICE alum Shenarri “Greens” Freeman opened Cadence, a critically acclaimed vegan soul food restaurant.
  • On the West Coast, NGI alum Sara Kramer owns what Refinery29 refers to as “wildly popular Los Angeles restaurant, Kismet.”

Plant-Based Culinary Arts Schedule & Cost

The Plant-Based Culinary Arts program consists of 632 instructional hours. Students are in the classroom for 432 hours and then complete an externship over the course of 200 hours, acquiring real-world experience in the culinary field.

To provide flexibility, we run several schedule options for our Plant-Based Culinary Arts diploma, including morning, afternoon and part-time schedules. Choose from schedules that meet from two to five times per week.

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Morning (8 months)

  • Hours: Mon. - Fri., 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
  • Cost: $34,948
  • Starts: June 8th, 2023
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Afternoon (8 months)

  • Hours: Mon. - Fri., 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Cost: $34,948
  • Starts: July 25th, 2023
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Evenings (12 months)

  • Hours: Tues. - Thurs., 6 - 10 p.m.
  • Cost: $34,948
  • Starts: TBD

Tuition, Fees & Charges Include:

  • All food
  • Uniforms
  • Books
  • Knives
  • Culinary Tool Kit
  • 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 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.

International Students

ICE is a hub of multiculturalism. We are proud to have students from over 44 countries, giving our classrooms a unique international character. Los Angeles is a diverse and exciting food city, providing international culinary students with opportunities for vibrant cultural experiences that include access to an array of ethnic restaurants, gourmet markets and culinary resources. It’s no wonder that so many international culinary students have chosen ICE as their passport to a rewarding and successful culinary career.

Learn about International Students at 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 our program information anytime.

Admissions Services

Applying to ICE

ICE Career Brochure

The 632-hour Career Plant-Based Culinary Arts program contains four modules divided into nine courses. The first eight courses are composed of 108 four-hour lessons that are held on campus. The ninth course is an off-site externship.

The program is constructed as follows:

Course 1


52 hours

Focusing on fundamental culinary techniques and criteria for selecting quality ingredients, this course will offer an introduction to the foundation for preparing plant-based, 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.
Course 2


56 hours

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, purees, 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.
Course 3


56 hours

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.
  • Dishes include: stuffed poblano chilies with browned tempeh; hazelnut-crusted flounder with mango salsa; and golden turmeric panna cotta with ginger-pepper lace cookies.
Course 4


52 hours

In this course, you will apply your growing command of plant-based 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 balanced, plant-based 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.
Course 5


56 hours

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.
Course 6


52 hours

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.
Course 7


52 hours

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.
Course 8


56 hours

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.
Course 9


200 hours

At the end of their in-class training, all students are assigned an externship. While the Institute of Culinary Education recommends that students extern in restaurant kitchens, they may request venues such as hotels, catering companies, corporate dining rooms or pastry shops in accordance with their professional goals.

Please note: Dishes are examples and are subject to change with curriculum updates, without notice.

At this point, you’ve already decided that you’re interested in a professional future in food and hospitality. But should you attend culinary school, and can you can really afford it?

The ICE Office of Student Financial Services puts an award-winning culinary education within your reach. Our advisors are available six days a week to help make your dream of attending culinary school at ICE a reality. 

Learn more about ICE's Student Financial Services.


ICE provides various scholarship opportunities to assist students on their journey towards a career in food and hospitality. Whether offered by ICE itself, our food industry partners or a vetted list of outside organizations, these scholarships provide students with additional resources to realize their dreams of attending our career training programs. Please be aware of the varying deadlines and application requirements for each individual scholarship. For additional information about any of the available scholarships, feel free to contact our Office of Student Financial Services directly at (888) 826-CHEF or

View all ICE Scholarship Opportunities.

Chef Barbara works with students on recipes from the Natural Gourmet Center.Financial Assistance

ICE offers financial assistance to those students who qualify:

• Private Student Loans
• Payment Plan
• Tuition Flex

To learn more about financing options, feel free to contact our Office of Student Financial Services directly at (888) 826-CHEF or

View all financing options. 

Applying for Financing

Please contact us with any financing questions. We will work closely with you to prepare the necessary forms and documents. 

Learn how to apply for financial assistance at ICE.

In Europe, aspiring chefs learn their trade through culinary apprenticeships. ICE's global teaching perspective takes inspiration from this centuries-old tradition, with our hands-on externship program.

What exactly is an “externship”? Similar in concept to a culinary internship, these paid or unpaid placements are chosen at a student's discretion with the assistance of Career Services Advisors. Each externship is is designed to fit the interests and career goals of the individual student, and externships consistently prove to be an exceptional opportunity for hands-on training and networking at the heart of the industry. What’s more, many externships lead to job offers and full-time employment.

How does the externship program work? The final course of our Plant-Based Culinary Arts program is a 200-hour externship at a restaurant, bakery or other culinary business.

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 plant-based and/or health-supportive 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, Benny's Big Time in Wilmington, North Carolina and Lenoir in Charleston, South 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.
  • Shenarri Freeman (Health-Supportive, '21), chef and owner of Cadence in New York City

Meet a few Natural Gourmet Institute alumni below.

Amanda Cohen is the chef-owner of Dirt Candy.Amanda Cohen has been a prominent fixture of vegetable-forward cuisine with her restaurant, Dirt Candy, which has been open on New York City's Lower East Side since 2018. The chef features seasonal vegetables as main courses, without a lifestyle or political focus, innovating with constantly changing ingredients.

Hailing from Ottawa, Chef Amanda 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 of 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 Amanda 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 Los Angeles 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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Graduates Talk About the Program

Tiffani WellsTiffani Wells (Health-Supportive/Management, '20)

“My favorite parts of the program were learning better skills and habits around the kitchen as well as making personal and professional connections with other like-minded individuals, including some faculty and my classmates. I met so many others who not only shared my joy of cooking, but because so many of us were also vegan or vegetarian, shared some of my same values as well. Now that I’ve completed the program, my future goals include expanding my existing business, Veggies at Tiffani’s, where I’ve worked as a recipe developer and as a personal chef.”



Jose Fontana Bassols at ICEJose Fontana Bassols (Health-Supportive/Management, '21)

“I was working as a food and beverage manager in Barcelona when the pandemic forced my employer to close. I chose the accelerated Health-Supportive Culinary Arts and Restaurant & Culinary Management programs at ICE because there is nothing like that in my country. I wanted to learn how to combine modern plant-based cuisine with traditional animal-based Spanish cuisine. Back home, I’d like to open a restaurant that meets the changing dietary preferences of Spaniards and the plant-forward desires of tourists.”

Kale Quinoa and Community ethos

Professional Demonstrations and Extracurriculars

ICE offers faculty-led enrichment classes focused on cooking and beverage-related aspects of the food industry, free for alumni and students. Our faculty-led extracurricular classes include our multi-week Wine Essentials series and our Deep Dives, in which our Chef-Instructors provide an in-depth look at many different specialty topics.

Additionally, experts from all over the world come to ICE to teach, lecture and cook for our students, providing the exclusive opportunity to watch, interact with and ask questions of these successful epicureans. What's more, ICE hosts industry leaders, from California winemakers and New Orleans chefs, to food website founders and specialty food company presidents, as part of our Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs series.