Institute for Culinary Education or Natural Gourmet Institute

I am heavily considering culinary school to solidify my intentions of making food (in some way) my career. I am having a hard time choosing between these two school, both of which have amazing reputations. I aspire to (not in any given order) help others learn to cook, write a book, professionally test/develop recipes, contribute to food journalism, possibly sell delicious but wholesome and healthful food/sweets in some kind of a market and/or small freestanding store. Part of me says to go to ICE because of the more classical and mainstream chef and professional training involved while the other part of me says to go to the more healthful and nutritionally supportive school. I have taken classes at both schools. Any thoughts regarding this would be most appreciative!



urbancooknyc August 18, 2014
Testkitchenette, I am in a similar situation to yours as far as making food my career, something I've been thinking for a long time. The Natural Gourmet Institute is my choice as I am definitely interested in healthy food, but I am debating between their new Nutrition Certificate Program, which is 3 months, or going for the full chef training. They are different, and I am waiting to talk to them about it, but I would love to hear about your experience with the chef training, if you don't mind sharing, since my motivation sounds very similar to yours. Thanks.
Bertha August 20, 2014
Hi! I completed the full time Chef's Training Program at NGI- CTP 230. It was a great experience and I learned a lot. I think it's important to learn the cooking techniques, knife skills, and the CTP covers a lot, while still being shorter than other culinary schools. Feel free to message me if you have other questions. Good luck with your decision!
testkitchenette September 7, 2011
Thank you, drbabs, ChefJune, and boulangere! I have taken a few classes at The Natural Gourmet ( a vegan baking one with Fran Costigan which I enjoyed very much). I plan to focus on mainly baking and desserts but don't want to rule anything out right now! I can't wait for it to start in November!
Cristina August 21, 2012
Hi testkitchenette! I'm thinking of enrolling in the part-time program at the Natural Gourmet. I have taken a public class there but I'd love your feedback on the Chefs Training program.
boulangere September 2, 2011
ChefJune September 2, 2011
Great choice! It's a lovely place to learn, and they have great instructors. Are you focusing on baking, or anything else specific?

Fran Costigan makes the most amazing vegan pastries.
drbabs September 2, 2011
@testkitchenette--Congratulations! I tried sending you a direct message last weekend--did you do OK with the hurricane? Are you still on Fire Island?
testkitchenette September 2, 2011
Final choice, The Natural Gourmet in the part time program so I can work at the same time.
ChefJune August 12, 2011
Good choice, TK! and Good Luck. Career changing is like all life changes because it subjects us to the unknown. But I've found all my career changes to be good ones, in the end.
testkitchenette August 12, 2011
I am leaning further towards the Natural Gourmet Institute but their offices are closed until August 15!
CalcuttaChow August 9, 2011
TestKitchenette, what did you decide? It's something I've thought about for a while as well.
boulangere August 7, 2011
I'm on about my 4th career as well, and it may be all the more satisfying for the fact that it simmered on the farthest burner for the longest time. Congratulations to you.
testkitchenette August 7, 2011
Again, thank you boulangere, for your thoughtful feedback! I think I am getting closer to a decision. It is a daunting decision as it is literally the fourth career education program that I will be enrolling in. I can see how the other three have lead me here though.
boulangere August 6, 2011
No, I went to the California Culinary Academy. The SFBI was just getting going with Didier Rosada around the time I graduated. You're clearly weighing your options wisely; that you will be taking a break from income-producing work is clearly a factor. Bear in mind that what you will do after you finish whichever program you choose will depend more upon you than upon your diploma.
testkitchenette August 6, 2011
Thank you, Boulangere for your thoughtful words. Did you go to the famed San Fran Baking Institute? My choice relies on proximity also. NYC is just a train ride away from Long Island so it is only fitting that the two schools I am going to choose between are a few blocks away from each other. Both schools have awe inspiring staff and graduates. One school can be done in a much shorter period of time (the one I feel drawn to more) which is positive since I will be taking a hiatus from actual work to complete the program.
boulangere August 6, 2011
The decision to pursue a culinary education is a very personal one. That said, I chose the one I did because of (a) its relative proximity, (b) Peter Reinhart was at the time the Breads instructor and I wound up being in his last class before he went to Johnson & Wales, and my desire to make great bread was what got me out of bed in the morning, (c)it was in San Francisco, a city near and dear to my heart, and (d) I'm a California gal. You've chosen two wonderful ones, and the final choice will depend on which philosophy has the greatest pull for you. I applaud your motivation. I think it's difficult to enter any culinary school (or any post-high school school, for that matter) with a definite, carved in stone idea of what one wants to do. Any education opens doors that one didn't necessarily know were there in the first place. I have no idea if any of this helps you, but kudos for starting out with your eyes wide open. Whichever you choose, I wish you a widely fulfilling experience.
Recommended by Food52