Pastry & Baking Arts are Hot at The Institute of Culinary Education

New York, NY, August 17, 2010 — The world of pastry and baking arts has become more and more popular in recent years. Pastry chefs, bakers and cake decorators are getting media coverage once reserved only for chefs. Chocolatiers, dessert bars and cafés are flourishing in chic neighborhoods. Pastry competitions have become the basis for multiple television shows. One school in particular, The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City, has particularly sweet results right now in this growing arena.

Food & Wine Magazine
The pastry arts have gained so much popularity that the July 2010 issue Food & Wine declared this “The Year of the Pastry Chef.” Among the seven pastry stars named in the article were two ICE alumni:

Jennifer Shelbo (Pastry & Baking Arts/Culinary Management ’07) Shelbo was once a financial research analyst, but followed her passion to the Pastry & Baking Arts and Culinary Management programs at ICE. Now, she is the pastry chef at Maialino, Danny Meyer’s Italian trattoria in NYC.

Zoe Nathan (Culinary Arts ’01)
Nathan graduated from ICE’s Culinary Arts program. She began working in butchery and sausage making but found her calling in pastry and baking. She opened Huckleberry Bakery & Café in Los Angeles with her husband Josh Loeb in 2009 and they were named among StarChef’s 2010 Rising Star Chefs.

Respected industry groups are also recognizing ICE’s pastry alumni and Chef Instructors with awards and honors.

James Beard Foundation
In 2009, ICE alumni Gina DePalma (Culinary Arts ’94) was awarded the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef. DePalma is the Executive Pastry Chef at Mario Batali’s famed restaurant Babbo in NYC and the author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts From the Babbo Kitchen (W.W. Norton & Co., 2007).

ICE alumni have won the James Beard’s Outstanding Pastry Chef honor in two other years, Claudia Fleming in 2000 (when she was at Gramercy Tavern) and Stephen Durfee in 1998 (when he was at The French Laundry).

Dessert Professional Magazine’s “Top Ten…”
In 2010, Dessert Professional magazine has already honored ICE Chef Instructors in two separate “Top Ten” categories.

In August 2010, Chef Instructor Michelle Tampakis was named a 2010 Top Ten Pastry Chef. Tampakis has been a Chef Instructor at ICE since 1986 and is the school’s resident expert on chocolate. She also serves as the Director of ICE’s Center for Advanced Pastry Studies, a program that hosts world-class instructors on specific pastry topics for industry professionals.

In April 2010, Master Cake Decorator and ICE Chef Instructor Toba Garrett was named as a Top Ten Cake Decorator. In addition to her teaching, Garrett is the author of Wedding Cake Art and DesignProfessional Cake DecoratingCreative Cookies: Delicious Decorating for Any Occasion and The Well-Decorated Cake.

ICE alumni and Chef Instructors working in the pastry arts are regularly featured on TV shows dedicated to dessert and confections. In 2010, Pastry Chef Instructors Chad Pagano and Kathryn Gordon were contestants on Food Network Challenge“Sugar Adventures,” during which they competed against three other teams in making sugar pieces inspired by classic novels. Chef Instructor Pagano also competed with Chef Instructor Rebecca Millican in the “Sugar Impossible” episode of Food Network Challenge. Alumni Lucy Martin (Pastry & Baking Arts ’95) appeared on Food Network in a chocolate challenge. Elisa Strauss (Pastry & Baking Arts ’00) regularly appears on television for her beautiful decorated cakes, appearing most recently on Rachael Ray. Pastry chefs are posed to become the next culinary TV stars.

Top Chef: Just Desserts
Premiering September 15, Top Chef: Just Desserts is a spinoff of Bravo’s award-winning Top Chef. On the show, contestants will compete in a series of pastry-themed elimination challenges including wedding cakes, edible fashion and flaming desserts. Of the show’s 12 contestants, three are ICE alumni, as is the show’s lead host.

Seth Caro (Pastry & Baking Arts ’04)
Caro began working in kitchens as a short order cook as a teenager and found his calling in the pastry arts. He has been the Pastry Chef at New York City restaurants Chanto, Perilla and Atria.

Zac Young (Pastry & Baking Arts ’06) of Flex Mussels, NYC
Young came to ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program after working in the wig department of the Radio City Rockettes. Since graduating, he has worked at Bouchon Bakery, Butter and most recently as the Executive Pastry Chef of the seafood restaurant Flex Mussels in NYC.

Malika Ameen (Culinary Arts ’97)
Ameen began her career on the culinary side of the kitchen. Born and raised in Chicago, she now lives there with her three sons where she works as a pastry chef and consultant.

Also, ICE alum Gail Simmons (Culinary Arts ’99) will host the show. Simmons is well known for her role as Judge on the past seven seasons of Top Chef. Originally from Toronto, Simmons is the Special Projects Manager for Food & Wine, after having held earlier positions working for Chef Daniel Boulud and noted food writer Jeffrey Steingarten.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Bourgeois at (212) 847-0775 or

About ICE

The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE®) is New York City's award-winning center for culinary education. Founded in 1975 by Peter Kump, the school offers highly regarded 6- to 11-month career training programs in Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts, Culinary Management and Hospitality Management. With an intensive curriculum, dedicated chef instructors, a strong record in externship placements and a clear entrepreneurial focus, ICE is widely regarded as a great pathway to begin or continue a culinary career. ICE also runs the largest program of hands-on recreational cooking classes and wine education courses in the country, with more than 26,000 enthusiasts taking any of the 1,500 classes offered each year. In 2008, ICE was named the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ (IACP) Culinary School of the Year and a School of Distinction by the ACCSCT in 2006. ICE’s 42,000 square-foot facility is open seven days and nights a week, 350 days a year and is located at 50 W. 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010. More information can be found at