The Bean to Bar Chocolate Lab at the Institute of Culinary Education culinary school in New York City

The Chocolate Lab

The Nation’s First Education-Focused Bean-to-Bar Facility

When ICE was designing a premiere center for culinary innovation at Brookfield Place in New York City, it became clear that recent innovations in chocolate production demanded a groundbreaking new center for confectionery research.

Over the past 10 years, the number of bean-to-bar operations in the United States has grown exponentially. Yet no American culinary school has invested in a chocolate lab where pastry students and seasoned professionals can experience the full cycle of bean-to-bar productionuntil now.

Click here for a peek at the first two years in the ICE Chocolate Lab.

Since opening in summer 2015, ICE’s Chocolate Lab has welcomed leading chocolatiers, up-and-coming chocolate producers and amateur confectionery enthusiasts. Overseen by ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis, the lab has already provided unprecedented opportunities for experimentation, research and development, like our inaugural Chocolate Symposium. Classes in the lab have also been integrated into the hands-on curriculum for all ICE Pastry & Baking Arts students, and Chef Laiskonis regularly offers two-day bean-to-bar workshops for experienced pastry professionals.

For research, partnership and event opportunities at ICE's Chocolate Lab, please email marketing@ice.edu.

Curious how you can take classes in the lab? Click here.

Check out the continuing education courses at ICE.

Michael Laiskonis is the director of the ICE educational bean-to-bar Chocolate Lab

“I once read an article where a chocolatier stated, ‘The most important step in making chocolate is every step.’ With the development of this center of research and development, I’m excited to show pastry chefs who aren’t chocolate makers how quantitative aspects of the process — roasting time and temperature, milling particle size, etc. — can affect the end flavor, and to explore the best applications of every type of chocolate.”

– Michael Laiskonis
ICE Creative Director

An Amazing Educational Opportunity

Cacao beans are split open to see the inside

Access to the Finest Chocolate Technology

ICE’s partners in this groundbreaking venture are Cacao Cucina. Cacao Cucina is the only American company that specializes in the production of small-batch, artisanal chocolate equipment. Born of engineer John Vessa and candy consultant Kim Vessa’s more than 70 years of combined confectionery experience, today, Cacao Cucina outfits the research and development labs for leading candy and flavor companies. 

Assorted chocolate bon bons and confections made by ICE Pastry Arts students

A Unique Experience for ICE Career Students

For culinary students — who rarely experience the production of the base ingredients they use on a daily basis — access to bean-to-bar equipment is a window into a whole new world of professional opportunities. Moreover, the immediate access to this small batch research and development facility offers students a first-hand education in the importance of ingredient sourcing, refining and selection. Alongside ICE’s hydroponic garden and Culinary Technology Lab, the introduction of the Chocolate Lab at ICE marks the evolution of new, artisanal curriculum offerings that align with the leading trends in today’s culinary industry.

Single-origin Chocolate bon bons made by Michael Laiskonis at the Institute of Culinary Education

A Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Experience

  • Wednesday, August 4, 6-10 p.m.
  • 1 session • Level 2 • $195

Let James Beard Award-winning Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis give you a complete, one-of-a-kind introduction and overview to the bean-to-bar chocolate-making process in our fully equipped Chocolate Lab. In this lecture/demonstration class, he will start with a discussion of the cacao bean – its origin and treatment from farm to factory. Students will observe each stage of production, from roasting of the cacao beans, winnowing, and grinding the winnowed nibs into chocolate liquor, to refining, sifting and final production of finished molded chocolate bars. Chef Laiskonis will close with a short, guided tasting of several chocolates of varying origin and formulation. Students will leave the class with samples of the chocolate produced in the lab, including exclusive bars available only at ICE.

Chocolate classes in NYC

Beyond Bean-to-Bar: Fundamental Chocolate Techniques

  • Thursday, September 9, 6-10 p.m.
  • 1 session • Level 2 • $195

Chocolate forms the backbone of many of our most beloved desserts and confections, yet the complex techniques required for success often elude many cooks. Building upon an introductory bean-to-bar experience, students will further utilize our exclusive house-made chocolate in finished preparations with a range of origins and flavor profiles. In this demonstration and hands-on class, students will learn the fundamentals of chocolate product identification, basic tempering, molding, decoration techniques, and finished confections and desserts that best showcase chocolate’s alluring properties. Recipes covered in class will include single-origin bonbons, chocolate caramels, chocolate crémeux and chocolate ice cream. Students will leave the class with samples of the items produced and exclusive bars available only at ICE.

Michael Laiskonis scoops chocolate cacao beans into a machine for winnowing in the bean-to-bar chocolate making process

A Bean-to Bar Chocolate Intensive

  • Saturday-Sunday, October 9-10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • 2 sessions • Level 3 • $595

Explore ICE's bean-to-bar Chocolate Lab in this two-day chocolate experience. In this workshop, open to pastry and culinary professionals, ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis will be offering an exclusive hands-on look at the bean-to-bar chocolate-making process. Attendees will roast, winnow, grind, formulate and refine artisan-quality couverture, creating a one-of-a-kind batch from start to finish. Additional discussion will include tempering, molding and further applications of the finished chocolate. You will cover:

  • An introduction to the world of craft chocolate.
  • Cleaning and sorting of cocoa beans.
  • Roasting, winnowing and grinding.
  • Refining process for single-origin dark chocolate.
  • Tempering and molding of the finished chocolate.
  • One batch of dark chocolate will be made.

Students will leave the class with samples of the chocolate produced.

Chocolate being filtered in the bean-to-bar chocolate lab at ICE

A Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Immersion

  • Monday-Thursday, November 1-4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • 4 sessions • Level 4 • $1,195

This intensive four-day immersive study offers hands-on experience as we explore, in depth, the numerous variables involved in each step of the chocolate-making process from raw cacao to finished product. In this workshop, open to pastry and culinary professionals, ICE Chef Michael Laiskonis will guide students through the underlying art and science of chocolate manufacturing. Students will roast, winnow, grind, formulate and refine multiple batches of artisan-quality couverture. Special attention will be given to the use of the Chocolate Lab’s machinery to perfect flavor and texture. This hands-on course will cover:

  • A historical overview of chocolate consumption and manufacturing
  • Post-harvest treatment of cacao beans at origin
  • Cleaning, sorting and analysis of cocoa beans
  • Roasting, winnowing and grinding cacao beans
  • Refining processes for dark, milk and specialty chocolates
  • Multiple tempering processes and molding techniques
  • Comparative identification and sensory analysis of chocolate products

Multiple batches of artisan chocolates will be produced over the four-day session, and students will leave the class with samples of the chocolates produced.