Michael Laiskonis, the recently departed pastry chef at Le Bernardin, seems to be taking the notion of retirement pretty lightly. He’s already back in the saddle with a new gig as a creative director at the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE).
How did the partnership arise? “I’ve known Michael, and admired his work, intelligence, and reputation for a number of years. So when he approached us, and expressed interest to be affiliated with a culinary school, my attitude was to explore the option and make it happen,” explains ICE president Rick Smilow. “It was clear from the start of discussions that Michael could directly and indirectly help ICE teach and inspire the great chefs of the future.”
Essentially, Laiskonis’s role will involve joining the educational leadership team to direct new projects in curriculum development and research, teach classes, mentor ICE students and faculty, and serve as an industry ambassador for ICE. It’s a role similar to the one ex-Le Cirque pastry chef Jacques Torres took up at rival school the French Culinary Institute after he left the professional kitchen. Laiskonis, for his part, however, will focus efforts on culinary research and development and exploring new techniques in the kitchen. Going back to school never seemed so fun.