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 production…until 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 contact Stephanie Fraiman at

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

Chocolate 101: Introduction to Chocolate

  • TBD
  • $195 • 1 sessionLevel 2

Let James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Michael Laiskonis give you a complete, one-of-a-kind introduction and overview of the bean-to-bar chocolate-making process. In this lecture and demonstration class, he will start with a discussion of chocolate production, broadly covering agricultural aspects, post-harvest treatment, and a preview of the processing steps covered during the session. Students will observe each stage of production, from roasting of the cocoa beans, winnowing, and grinding the winnowed nibs into chocolate liquor, to refining, sifting and final production of finished 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, plus an assortment of exclusive bars available only at ICE.

Chocolate classes in NYC

Chocolate 102: Fundamental Techniques

  • May 4, 2020 6-10 p.m.
  • Jan. 10, 6-10 p.m.
  • 1 session • Level 3 • $195

Chocolate forms the backbone of many of our most beloved desserts and confections, yet the complex techniques required for success often elude most home cooks. Building upon our introductory bean-to-bar class, students will further utilize our exclusive housemade chocolate in finished preparations with a range of origins and flavor profiles. In this demonstration and hands-on class, students will be learn basic tempering, molding and decoration techniques, as well as finished confections and desserts that best showcase craft chocolate’s alluring properties. Recipes covered in class will include single-origin bonbons, chocolate caramels, spiced hot chocolate and chocolate crémeux.

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

Chocolate 201: Craft of Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Making

  • TBD
  • 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-kind batch from start to finish. Additional discussion will include tempering, molding and further applications of the finished chocolate.

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

Chocolate 301: Master Class in Techniques of Chocolate

  • April 6-9, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • 4 sessions • Level 4 • $1,195

This intensive four-day study offers hands-on experience as we explore, in depth, the numerous variables involved in each step of the chocolate-making process. In this workshop, open to pastry and culinary professionals, ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis will guide students through the underlying art and science of chocolate. Attendees will roast, winnow, grind, formulate, and refine multiple batches of artisan-quality couverture. Special attention will be given to the science of tempering and molding finished bars. This class builds upon our popular two-day workshop — to see topics covered, click Register below.