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Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs

ICE lineup of Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs - 2012-2013 guestsMeet The Culinary Entrepreneurs is an exclusive lecture series featuring some of America's top food business experts. The sessions—held throughout the year at ICE—introduce students and the public to the world’s leading restaurateurs, specialty food retailers, caterers and other culinary business proprietors who have established highly regarded national and international brands. The ongoing series was designed to complement ICE’s Culinary Management diploma program, which trains students with career goals of owning or operating a restaurant or other food business.

An ICE management instructor moderates each of the 90-minute discussions, which focus on the wisdom and candid experiences of the culinary entrepreneur. Whether you’re a student or already active in the food industry, this is your chance to get in-person advice from some of the industry’s most influential leaders. No matter your career goals, these experts’ wealth of knowledge is sure to leave you better equipped to manage or launch your own culinary ventures.

In its seventh year running, the Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs lecture series features high profile speakers from the restaurant, catering, specialty food, beverage and retail world. This is an opportunity to hear how some of nation’s leading culinary entrepreneurs grew their fledging companies into highly successful businesses.

These lectures are free for current ICE students, $15 for alumni and $40 for general public. 

Past Guest Speakers:


Karl Franz Williams

Mixologist and Partner of Solomon & Kuff’s Rum Hall, 67 Orange Street and The Anchor Spa
Monday, October 23, 10:30am-12:00pm

Karl is the master mixologist and partner behind Solomon & Kuff’s Rum Hall – a 5000 square foot pan-Caribbean restaurant, rum bar and lounge located in West Harlem. A Yale graduate, Karl’s experience in the beverage industry includes 10 years in the marketing, brand management, operations, and innovation departments of Procter & Gamble and Pepsi Cola North America. While working at Pepsi in Innovation and searching for inspiration for new beverage concepts, Karl started working with top mixologists in NYC. Karl left Pepsi in early 2008 and opened 67 Orange Street, in December of 2008 to critical acclaim, receiving strong reviews from NY Magazine, the Post, and the NY Times. In fall 2016, Karl re-opened the iconic Anchor Bar in New Haven with cocktails inspired by port cities around the world. Just following his talk, Karl will perform a mixology demonstration and tasting.

Marissa F. Ain

Founder + CEO, Plate + Decanter
Monday, November 6, 2017, 10:30am-12:00pm

For over 13 years, Marissa has planned and managed some of the nation's most exclusive private and public events. From The James Beard Foundation Awards to NYC Wine & Food Festival to countless corporate, social and non-profit events, Marissa’s experience includes collaborating closely with the food and wine industry's top talent. As a result, her company Plate + Decanter, an event management firm that specialized in culinary and wine events, was selected to produce the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival for four years. Marissa’s current passion is promoting NY Wines through the NY Drinks NY program. Marissa is a graduate of Yale University with a B.A. in the History of Art and holds an Advanced Level Certificate from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET).


Chris Andersen

President: Mangalitsa by Mosefund (Branchville, NJ)
Thursday, February 23, 1:00-2:30pm

The New York Times called him one of the five most creative investment bankers on Wall Street. As a financier for over thirty years, he’s been involved in deals totaling over $100 billion in value. Recently, however, Chris Anderson has applied his characteristic zeal to a new type of venture: pig farming. He raises a truly unique called the Mangalitsa, described the “kobe beef of pork.” This is also the name of his company, which sells a range of high-quality Mangalitsa products, from delicious salumi and cured meats to collar steak and tenderloin. Chris’s restaurant customers include The French Laundry, Aquavit, Eleven Madison Park and Roberta’s. 

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Alexander Smalls

Executive Chef and Restaurateur: The Cecil, Minton's (New York, NY)
Wednesday, March 22, 1-230pm

Harlem is one of New York’s most dynamic and culturally rich neighborhoods. In recent years, Harlem has become a platform for trends in food, dining, music and entertainment. Award-winning opera singer-turn-restaurateur Alexander Smalls is considered to be a major catalyst for this recent renaissance.

After much success in the world of music and opera (winning both Tony and Grammy Awards for his role as Jake in “Porgy and Bess,”) Alexander Smalls followed his passion for food and opened Café Beulah in the Flatiron District in 1994. Taking inspiration from his childhood in South Carolina, Smalls focused on “low-country” southern cooking. Although Café Beulah closed in 1997, Smalls realized he was onto something with these simple, southern dishes. In 2013 he took his love for soul food uptown to Harlem and opened The Cecil, where his chefs serve “southern revival” and “Afro-Asian” cuisine. In the same year, Smalls renovated and revived one of the most legendary and historical jazz clubs, Minton’s Playhouse. The new Minton’s is a formal supper club featuring live music and a sophisticated prix fixe menu.

Alexander Smalls’ influence has stretched beyond the borders of Harlem; Zagat named him as one of the “19 NYC Restaurant Power Players You Need to Know” in 2014. The Cecil was named Esquire’s “Best New Restaurant in America” in 2014.

Smalls is author of Grace the Table, his acclaimed memoir and cookbook. He is also an integral part of non-profit organizations such as Harlem Jazz Enterprises and Careers through Culinary Arts Programs (CCAP.)

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Marc Murphy

Celebrity Chef, Author & Restaurateur: Benchmarc Restaurants (Landmarc & Ditch Plains) and Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy
Thursday, March 23, 6:00-7:30pm

The son of a diplomat, ICE alumni Marc Murphy spent his childhood in cosmopolitan cities around the globe — and learning to love the unique cuisines of each. As a young chef, he cooked in France, Italy and New York City, refining his skills under the tutelage of great chefs such as Alain Ducasse, Terrance Brennan, Sylvain Portay and David Pasternak. His first restaurant, Landmarc, which he opened in Tribeca in February 2004, was met with high critical praise. In 2006, he opened Ditch Plains, followed by a second Landmarc location in the Time Warner Center which is celebrating 10 years this April. Fans of Food Network’s highest rated hits Chopped and Chopped Junior will no doubt recognize Marc, who’s a permanent judge on both foodie-favorite programs. Marc is also the author of Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking his debut cookbook which was released April 2015 and continues to be a top seller.

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Dustin Wilson

Co-Founder: Verve Wine (New York, NY)
Thursday, April 6, 10:30am-12:00pm

When Dustin and his co-founder Derrick Mize founded Verve Wine, they didn’t set out to offer just another wine shop — their aim was to create an entirely new way to discover, buy and drink wine that their customers love. As self-proclaimed “wine geeks,” their experience with the grape specially qualifies them to create a curated selection of wines from around the globe. For his part, Dustin Wilson is a Master Sommelier, with a resume that includes time in the wine cellars of top restaurants across the United States — Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder; The Little Nell in Aspen; and RN74 in San Francisco; and perhaps most notably, Wine Director of the acclaimed Eleven Madison Park. His expertise landed him a cameo in the critically acclaimed wine documentary, SOMM, and he was later featured in the film’s sequel, SOMM: Into the Bottle. 

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Jimmy Bradley

Chef/Owner: The Red Cat (New York, NY)
Monday, May 8, 10:30am-12:00pm

As chef-owner of The Red Cat, Jimmy Bradley presides over a West Chelsea dining landmark that was a neighborhood pioneer a decade before the Highline came onto the scene. Jim has helped contemporary diners rediscover the intrinsic value of classic Mediterranean cuisine, reinterpreted for a modern American clientele. Author of a cookbook by the same name, The Red Cat Cookbook, Jim and his recipes are regularly featured in The New York Times, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Esquire and other major food publications, as well as on local and national television programs including Today Show, Top Chef Masters and Martha Stewart.

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Daniel Rose

Executive Chef: Le Coucou (New York, NY)
Wednesday, May 10, 1:00-2:30pm

Acclaimed chef Daniel Rose has been at the forefront of the Paris and international dining scene since opening his first 16-seat SPRING Restaurant location in 2006. He cooked for some of the world’s most esteemed Michelin three-star restaurants and chefs before a life-changing year as head chef at a restaurant in Panajachel, Guatemala. In September of 2015, Rose opened La Bourse et La Vie, a traditional bistro du quartier. In 2016, Rose received extensive critical praise for the openings of both his first stateside restaurant, Le Coucou, and his third restaurant in Paris, Chez La Vieille.

Paul Giannone

Chef/Owner: Paulie Gee’s (Brooklyn, Columbus, Baltimore, Chicago, Miami)
Thursday, June 8, 1:00-2:30pm

Paul Giannone, the Brooklyn-native behind Paulie Gee’s, is an inspiring career changer in the greatest sense. Fed up with his IT job, the talented home cook and pizza enthusiast decided at age 56 to follow his passion for the pie and enter the food industry. In 2010, Paul opened the first Paulie Gee’s in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn. With quality ingredients and delicious combinations, Paul’s pizzeria garnered rave reviews from the start. Today Paulie Gee’s has five locations and a cult-like following in each.

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Geoff Bartakovics

Co-founder/CEO: Tasting Table
Thursday, July, 20, 10:30-12:00pm

Geoff Bartakovics is the co-founder and CEO of Tasting Table (, the premier gourmet digital publication. He launched the brand in 2008 to engage the growing national audience of food and drink obsessives. Today, Tasting Table reaches millions of foodies daily. Previously, Geoff was a Business Manager at UBS Investment Bank. He currently advises a number of other start-ups, including Trigger Media, Inside Hook, PureWow, Virtru and Gathered Table. He studied English literature at the University of Chicago, and studied comparative literature and philosophy at the University of Hamburg as a Fulbright Scholar. Geoff is an obsessive dinner party entertainer and a serious home cook.

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Lior Lev Sercarz

Owner: La Boite (New York, NY)
Thursday, August 24, 10:30am-12pm

Lior Lev Sercarz is the chef, spice blender and owner of La Boîte, a biscuits and spice shop in New York City. Lior and La Boîte have been featured in major food and lifestyle publications, including The New York Times, Vogue, In Style Magazine, Every Day with Rachel Ray, Food & Wine Magazine and the SAVEUR 100. Lior jumpstarted his culinary education as a student at Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France. During that time, he did an externship with chef Olivier Roellinger in Cancale, France. In 2002, armed with his spice expertise, Lior relocated to New York, where he worked as sous chef and catering chef at Daniel. In 2006, he opened La Boîte, followed by La Boîte Biscuits & Spices in 2011. In 2012, Lior produced a cookbook entitled The Art of Blending, and in 2016 he published he second book, The Spice Companion.

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Sylvia Weinstock

Founder, Sylvia Weinstock Cakes
Thursday, September 14, 10:30am-12:00pm

Sylvia is founder of Sylvia Weinstock Cakes, which makes gorgeous, sometimes fantastical, always delicious cakes for a range of clients. Her individual clients include Martha Stewart and Robert DeNiro, and her corporate clients include Town and Country Magazine and The Ritz Carlton Hotel. The secret to Sylvia's success is simple: there are no shortcuts. Sylvia married in 1949, at which time she began learning domestic skills while working as a Long Island elementary school teacher. During weekend ski trips upstate, Sylvia became an apprentice to a local pastry chef, honing her craft. Soon enough, she was a proficient chef and baker.

This lecture is free for current ICE students, $15 for alumni and $40 for general public. 

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