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? 
ICE Chef Instructor Toba Garrett demonstrates cake decorating techniques to a group of students

Small, Hands-on Classes for Personal Mentoring

ICE’s classes are intimate — never more than 18 students per instructor in Culinary Arts and Pastry & Baking Arts 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

ICE’s Special Events Division hosts over 500 culinary and press events annually, from high profile cookbook launches to lectures and demonstrations with acclaimed restaurateurs and chefs (like Thomas Keller, Alex Atala and Rick Bayless). These events are exceptional networking opportunities for our students, who regularly volunteer at on-site events.

Access to New York's community of culinary leaders and personalities goes beyond the walls of our campus. Students are encouraged to volunteer at all kinds of industry events and charitable functions, such events as the James Beard Awards, Dessert Professional’s Top Ten Pastry Chef Awards and City Harvest’s NYC Chefs Gala. 

An ICE chef instructor places a toque on a pastry school graduates head

A Diverse, Inclusive Culinary Community

Your career in food can have a lot to do with 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 6-13 months, our instructors, faculty and alumni network can remain a valuable professional resource 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 to attend. 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

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

Over the past 40 years, we've 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.

Gail Simmons praises the Institute of Culinary Education culinary school

2. A Roster of References

ICE graduates have entered the workplace with the foundation and skills to gain experience under culinary leaders as exceptional as Michael Anthony, Daniel Boulud, Tom Colicchio, Danny Meyer, Missy Robbins, Marcus Samuelsson, Ivy Stark and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

We also receive rave reviews from our students: In a 2019 survey of ICE graduates, 89% of alumni indicated that they would recommend an ICE education to someone looking to launch a career in the culinary or hospitality fields, and 90% indicated that an ICE education was important in their culinary careers.

A student works at the stovetop in a kitchen classroom at the Institute of Culinary Education

3. Campuses in America's Culinary Capitals

In Downtown Manhattan, ICE's New York City location was 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. New York City is the home of acclaimed international restaurants, gourmet markets and leading food media outlets.

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.

Balthazar bakery is one of the many esteemed restaurants that ICE students can extern at.

4. Externships That Open Doors

An ICE education includes a real-world externship. In the past four years, 1,500 students externed at more than 300 establishments. 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.

An employer sign at an ICE career fair

5. Career Placement Services

The ICE Career Services department has a full-time staff dedicated to guiding graduates who want a job in the field to 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, regular pop-up recruiting events on campus and an annual alumni party. Career Services hosts two career fairs a year 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 — or our own Hydroponic Garden!

An ICE culinary management instructor guides students in class

7. Crucial Culinary Business Lessons

Cooking and baking can be creative forms of expression and pleasing guests can be gratifying for those in the hospitality sector. 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 New York City as a classroom with guest lectures from industry leaders and field trips.

We teach learn 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 Health-Supportive 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).

Chef Michael Laiskonis is a pastry chef instructor and creative director at the Institute of Culinary Education

9. High-Caliber Chef-Instructors and Faculty

Esteemed chefs — like Michael Laiskonis, former executive pastry chef at the acclaimed Le Bernardin; Kathryn Gordon, named a Top Ten Pastry Chef in America by Dessert Professional; Barry Tonkinson, who trained in Michelin-starred restaurants in London; and Ted Seigel, who worked with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse — are just a few of the experienced professionals teaching in ICE's kitchen classrooms. It isn’t easy to earn a position instructing at ICE. We set high standards for skill, knowledge, expertise, passion, and of course, a love for teaching. In our management programs, many of the instructors are active consultants and have held management positions in the field.

An ICE chef instructor poses with culinary arts students at the Institute of Culinary Education

10. Plant-Based Cooking and Hotel Management Are Part of Our Recipe

ICE is grounded in culinary and pastry career training, but over the years, the school has added specialized diploma programs in management and hospitality. The Hospitality & Hotel Management program prepares students for diverse career paths in hotels, restaurant groups, special events, tourism and more. In 2019, ICE introduced Health-Supportive 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 hundreds of recreational cooking, baking, business management, wine and mixology classes each season, in addition to continuing education for industry professionals. Classes have included Essentials of Moroccan Cooking, Gluten-Free Bread, How to Write a Recipe, Cuban Surf & Turf, and Molecular Mixology. We regularly host demos, guest lectures and greenmarket tours, and there are regular opportunities to volunteer with chefs at external events or venues like the James Beard House, where guest chefs from around America are invited to cook.

ICE students work together to prepare a dish in culinary school

12. Flexible Class Schedules

ICE offers morning, afternoon, evening and weekend class schedules starting every month throughout the year. These unique schedules 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