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Institute of Culinary Education

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June 28, 2010

Culinary School Instructor Molds The Next Generation of Chefs
By Darren Atkins

Photo by Adam Rosenberg

From an early age Chef Erica Wides had an obsession with food; she would painstakingly craft and sculpt miniature fake representations of food, housing them alone in her doll house. Now an instructor at The Institute of Culinary Education (, Wides is now sculpting the next generation of chefs and teaching them how to carve their own niche in food.

Wides took a while, as most people do, to find her own niche. As a young woman she attended the School of Visual Arts ( to study art and photography. In her final years of college, her artwork and photography started to incorporated food; Wides created still lives out of food with a political/feminist theme and then photographed them. She remarks, “I guess I was working a few things out through my work.”

Her explorations in college led her to pursue her career dreams of being a photographer in New York, but she quickly realized it was an expensive and difficult way to make a living here and so she took stock of the situation and realized that she didn’t have anything else, but her love for food. So, she did what every other struggling artist does in New York, at some time or another- she waited tables. While doing that, Wides realized she was much more interested in what was going on behind the scenes. But then, something happened that would force her to make a change. Wides explains, “I was waiting tables and thinking about food a lot, and then all of my photography equipment got stolen. I saw it as a sign Continue Reading…



May 28, 2010

Hospitality training program turns the streets into a jumping off point for a real career
By Darren Atkins All photos courtesy of Streets International

Recently some of New York’s most celebrated chefs came together at The Astor Center to support Streets International (, a non-for-profit organization that provides opportunities for Vietnam’s street kids to escape from poverty and destitution, and transition to a life of hope and promising hospitality industry careers.

The third annual Streets event was a lively and delicious evening that brought some joy to the reality that there was a need for such an event. Vietnam, bordered by China to the north and Laos to the northwest, boasts a population of over 86 million people and is the 13th most populous country in the world. Gaining their independence from the Chinese in AD 938, and much later the French, Vietnam has had their fair share of hardships after suffering from prolonged military engagement. However, while the country managed to regain strength and its economic growth there are still casualties of this war torn country; many of them are children and young adults. An estimated 19,000 young people live on the streets of Hanoi alone, many of them suffering from health problems and the ravages of drug abuse and crime.

After witnessing so many young adults struggling with drug dependent and crime infested lives lived out on the streets of Vietnam, the charity’s founder, Neal Bermas PhD, was compelled to do something to effect positive change in their existence. Bermas explains, “This is an 18 month program; it’s quite ambitious. We house, feed and provide medical care for these young adults who come from the streets, orphanages and detention centers. During the course of the 18 months they start out mostly in classroom, with curriculums either in culinary or service Continue Reading…