Pastry school students prepare breads in class at the Institute of Culinary Education

Explore ICE

"As a school and an institution, we are vibrant, focused and driven by ideals." - ICE President Rick Smilow

Finding The Best School For Your Personal Goals

There are many culinary schools to choose from. They vary by size, location, length of program, course of study, job placement rate and — of course — cost. We pride ourselves on the quality of our curriculum, instructors, facility and ingredients, as well as the doors an ICE education can open through externships, networking and volunteering opportunities. Moreover, we’re committed to providing this value in less time than many other schools.

You may consider culinary school for a variety of opportunities in the food and hospitality industries, from becoming a restaurant or private chef to starting your own food business, covering food in the media or exploring corporate dining or events. ICE students can develop culinary, baking, management and beverage skills for professional positions inside or outside of the kitchen.

Click here to discover 12 reasons why you should begin your culinary career path at ICE.

The ICE Difference

So, you might be wondering, what sets ICE apart? 
Culinary school students in class as an ICE chef instructor demonstrates a technique

Small, Hands-on Classes for Personal Mentoring

ICE’s classes are intimate — never more than 16 students per instructor in Culinary Arts and Pastry & Baking classes. We believe in providing an individualized learning experience for all students — if you need help, we can support you, and if you need extra motivation, we can push you. A smaller class size also makes it easier for your creativity and personal interests to be heard.

ICE students volunteer for a James Beard Foundation event at the Institute of Culinary Education

A Hub of Culinary Creativity

Students are encouraged to volunteer at a wide range of industry events and charitable functions. ICE also hosts frequent guests for lectures and demos on campus. These are opportunities to access the broader community of culinary innovators in and beyond the walls of our facility.

The public can create in our interactive cooking, baking and wine classes. ICE chef-instructors teach fundamental techniques in hands-on recreational classes, from Knife Skills and Fine Cooking to courses focused on bread, chocolate, regional cuisines and sushi. ICE's popular, six-session Wine Essentials course now covers the world's most popular wine regions, plus making and tasting basics, in LA as well.

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An ICE student and an ICE culinary instructor

A Diverse, Inclusive Culinary Community

Your career in food will depend on the people you surround yourself with and the level of commitment you bring to the table. That’s why, at ICE, we’re incredibly proud of the strength of our community. While your time in the classroom only lasts seven-12 months, our instructors, staff and alumni network remain valuable professional resources throughout your career.

Keep reading to discover 12 reasons why you should choose ICE.

12 Reasons to Pursue Your Future in Food at 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.

Students may wonder how to choose the best culinary school. Below are 12 reasons why more than 14,000 students have started their culinary careers with an ICE education. 

The Daily Meal and other publications and organizations have praised ICE as the best culinary school in America

1. A Leader in Culinary and Hospitality Education

Over the past 40 years, ICE has educated more than 14,000 alumni, and our diploma programs have an established reputation among chefs, restaurateurs, pastry experts, food publications, hoteliers and culinary professionals around the world. Our courses, connections and unique focus on the student experience make ICE an ideal place to start a culinary, pastry or hospitality career.

In 2016, ICE’s New York campus was ranked “The Best Culinary School in America” by The Daily Meal, awarded the same title by The Best Schools and Edinformatics, and listed as one of America’s top culinary schools by FSR Magazine. The New York campus was also named Culinary School of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) in 2015, 2011, 2008 and 2003.

Wolfgang Puck speaks at the Los Angeles campus' first commencement.

2. A Roster of References

Los Angeles campus graduates have entered the workplace with the foundation and skills to gain experience under culinary leaders as exceptional as Dominique Ansel, Nobu Matsuhisa, Thomas Keller, Zoe Nathan, Christina Tosi and Wolfgang Puck.

The facade of the Institute of Culinary Education Los Angeles campus

3. Campuses in Two of America's Culinary Capitals

Opened in 2018, ICE's Los Angeles campus is located in Pasadena's historic Playhouse District and features spacious teaching kitchens and a stimulating environment for studying, professional development and community. ICE LA students have access to the city’s vibrant and trendsetting food scene, which offers opportunities for endless culinary exploration.

In Downtown Manhattan, ICE's New York City location was also designed with community and creativity in mind. ICE students experience distinct opportunities for culinary discovery and innovation in our bean-to-bar Chocolate Lab, Hydroponic Garden, Mixology Center and Culinary Technology Lab.

Tori Eisenstadt externed with Christina Tosi at Milk Bar.

4. Externships That Open Doors

An ICE education includes a real-world externship. ICE's Career Service advisors support students in the process of identifying potential externship sites to fit each student’s personal and professional goals. This in-the-field training consistently proves to be an exceptional opportunity for hands-on experience, networking at the heart of the industry and concrete references for job interviews. Often, students get job offers from their externships.

Chef David Chang's Momofuku is a regular employer at ICE career fairs

5. Career Services Resources

The ICE Career Services department has a full-time staff dedicated to helping graduates who want a job in the field, get a job in the field and that alumni careers stay on track, even long after graduation. This includes weekly alumni emails with dozens of job openings and career fairs on campus with leading restaurants, bakeries, hotels and other employers interested in meeting ICE students and graduates. It’s an investment we believe is a crucial part of the recipe for success that you should expect from a culinary school.

A dish of lobster, parmesan and microgreens at the Institute of Culinary Education

6. Global Perspective and High-Quality Ingredients

While ICE’s culinary curriculum is grounded in classic French technique, it also offers the opportunity to explore global foods, including the cuisines of Italy, China, Thailand, India and more. Our strong emphasis on quality sourcing means that you’ll cook these dishes with ingredients from the same local purveyors who cater to the city’s finest restaurants.

An ICE restaurant and culinary management instructor teaches students

7. Crucial Culinary Business Lessons

Cooking and baking can be creative forms of expression. However, long-term viability depends upon a sound business plan. ICE’s Restaurant & Culinary Management program is accredited and designed to prepare students to own, manage or operate a food business. Taught by former restaurant owners and managers who are still active consultants in the field, the program treats Los Angeles as a classroom with guest lectures from industry leaders and field trips.

We teach how to write a business plan and navigate the basics of human resources, public relations, restaurant finances, marketing and more. We carefully schedule our programs and offer dual diploma discounts so that students can combine Restaurant & Culinary Management with Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts or Plant-Based Culinary Arts to earn two diplomas at ICE in as little as a year.

Many ICE graduates have gone on to win James Beard Awards

8. An Alumni Network with a Track Record of Success

For decades, ICE alumni have won local, regional and national awards from a broad range of organizations, magazines and trade groups. The list includes the James Beard Foundation, Michelin Guide, Food & Wine magazine, Dessert Professional magazine, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, Forbes, the American Culinary Federation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).

Awards, honors and recognition

Lead Chef Elliott Prag instructs a Plant-Based Culinary Arts class.

9. High-Caliber Chef-Instructors and Faculty

Esteemed teachers — like Mauro Rossi, who was an executive chef with the Patina Group, and Mishel LeDoux, who was a general manager at Jose Andres and Wolfgang Puck restaurants — are just a few of the experienced professionals instructing in ICE's kitchen classrooms. We set a high standard for skill, knowledge, expertise, passion, and of course, a love for teaching.

A Health-Supportive Culinary Arts class combined seared mushrooms, sauteed asparagus, roasted carrots, braised baby artichokes, grated fresh corn "polenta" and vegan cilantro pesto in this stunning dish.

10. Plant-Based Cooking is Part of Our Recipe

In 2019, ICE introduced Plant-Based Culinary Arts, based on the Natural Gourmet Institute’s plant-forward curriculum. The program's food-and-healing coursework focuses on the nutritional aspects of ingredients and cooking techniques and how to use those to best benefit health.

A selection of spices in cups on a baking sheet

11. A Rich Menu of Extracurricular Options

In addition to career training programs, ICE offers regular events and demonstrations featuring leaders in the industry and experts in specialty areas. Students at our Los Angeles campus have opportunities to attend workshops, guest lectures, skills enhancement classes and field trips and to volunteer with chefs at external events or venues like LA Chefs Conference and LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade. We also host dozens of recreational classes on campus, which have included some of the most popular curriculum from the New York campus: knife skills, techniques of fine cooking, wine essentials, and exclusively in L.A., a five-part sushi course.

ICE students work together to prepare a dish in culinary school

12. Flexible Class Schedules

ICE offers morning, afternoon and evening class schedules with eight to nine class starts a year. For students who are unable to attend classes on campus in NY or LA, ICE offers an online culinary diploma program as well as an online management program,  These unique offerings are designed to make it as easy as possible for you to fit culinary or management training into your busy life and accommodate families, jobs and other obligations while earning a diploma in as little as seven months. This flexibility also makes dual diplomas a convenient option.

Gail Simmons praises the Institute of culinary education instructors, facilities, curriculum and industry access

"ICE gave me the solid foundation I needed to embark on a successful and unique culinary career. The instructors, facilities, curriculum and industry access are of the highest quality and I left the program having gained an invaluable education."

Gail Simmons
Culinary Arts, 1999