ICI Team

Following the tradition of European advanced culinary training, all of your instructors are chefs active in the field. Chefs at the Institute are not only chosen for their awards but for their present status as Italy's & Europe's most innovative masters.

John Nocita

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ICI President, Master Chef, Sommelier, Gelatician, Casaro, Maestro Olearo

John founded the Italian Culinary Institute to constantly update cooking techniques and menu development for restaurateurs, chefs and patisserie in the world’s increasingly competitive environment. Courses concentrate on techniques that are continually being developed by the team through its participation in international culinary competitions. John leads ICI’s faculty of more than ten of Europe’s most renowned culinary masters and MOFs presenting programs in three locations in Italy in unique real life learning environments.

John is among Europe’s leading consultants for designing menu concepts, the ongoing evolution in dining trends and the recipe development necessary for both. He is an award winning chef, a member of the exclusive Maestri Oleari and a sommelier. John’s style of cuisine is based on traditional regional Italian cooking which is then value added for commercialization on the international fine dining scene. His profound understanding of raw materials, flavor assembly and subsequent plate construction continues to earn him a position as trainer for master chefs in Italy and the world.

As a chef, John’s fortes include the preparation of dishes reflecting all regions of Italy particularly Mediterranean style cuisine. His style is distinctly ‘cucina espressa’ (express cooking) giving every plate an expression of the freshest products available from land and sea.

His memberships include the Italian Culinary Federationn and Italian Master Chefs Society. His many awards include Outstanding Contributions to Promote Fine Dining from the Distinguished Restaurants of North America whom Wine Spectator describes as “the authority on fine dining”. John has received the CondeNast Traveler Haute Cooking Award and much more.

John is an international culinary judge and is on the board of several culinary associations and public and private universities. Through his company ICI he publishes gastronomic texts and contributes columns to trade magazines and newspapers internationally. John was featured in Forbes Magazine twice in 2016 and 2017 for innovations in consulting. He holds an M.A. in Economics and an EdD in gastronomic science.

Juan Penzini

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ICI Director, Chef, Salumiere, Master Baker

Juan Penzini is a chef from Venezuela. Over ten years ago he started his career specializing in artisan bread baking, then moved on to a full culinary program focusing in managerial skills.

Being chef of various restaurants and then managing partner of his own restaurants in Caracas, three of them located in the Caracas Country Club, the most important private club in the country, gave chef Juan essential experience in managing staff, creating economically viable menus in the worst inflationary economy in the world, bar management and catering for large events. During his last years in Venezuela he also trained aspiring chefs in basic culinary skills and food costing at Instituto Culinario de Caracas.

A graduate of ICI’s Master of Italian Cuisine program himself, chef Juan now focuses on Italian regional culinary culture, with special emphasis in artisan baking and charcuterie, both of which he has become an expert.

Luigi 'Gigi' Ferraro

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Master Chef

His recipe is simple: In Italy he combined work experiences in Tuscany, Lazio (Rome), Basilicata, Campania (Naples and the Amalfi Coast), Sardinia, Lombardia, Calabria and more… Then he added Sharm el Sheik, Stockholm, Bangkok, London, New York and Moscow… This is the recipe of knowledge and practical expertise…the recipe of success. This is chef Luigi Ferraro.

For the past twenty years, chef Luigi, has worked at over twenty restaurants around the globe. His roots are unmistakably Italian. But through the years he has learned that his style of Italian regional cuisine would undergo a constant revision, an evolution and, in some cases, a revolution!

As most of us already believe, chef Luigi agrees that it was ‘Nonna’ who continually prepared the best of Italy. The demands of international high end dining made it necessary for chef Luigi to integrate the simplicity of Nonna’s cooking with the highest quality of Haute dining. As a result, chef Luigi has pushed authentic Italian regional flavors to the limits with plate presentations that have never been seen and, most importantly, tasted before…

“Everyone of our senses should be touched in every plate we enjoy”, says the chef, “our limits are as endless as our imagination”. His humble words leave out the fact that each dish chef Gigi prepares encompasses an array of techniques that require strict attention to detail and execution. This, naturally, is the reason why chef Luigi will be instructing advanced programs exclusively for ICI beginning with 2021’s session of Master of Italian Cuisine!!!

Nicola Stratoti

Nicola

Master Baker, Maestro Scultore, Executive Chef

Pane Artistico, or Artistic Baking, is the newest form of decorative food styling on the international culinary scene and is already a main competition attraction at the world’s top events including Bocuse d’Or, SIAB, Rimini and the IKA International Culinary Olympics. To date, Chef Nicola has won a gold medal in all nine events that he’s competed!

Chef Nicola creates fragile masterpieces for spectacular plate presentations and continues to earn praise both from culinary judges and from his vast clientele. These showpieces are not only a showstopper among the professional competition circuit but are a success among chefs and caterers who are able to use large pieces for months effectively replacing fruit and vegetable art which last only days.Nicola instructs advanced courses at ICI as well as several other culinary academies in Italy and Europe. Emphasizing that he is a chef not a sculptor or even a baker, Nicola not only transmits this intricate technique to other professionals but shows how it is done in a conventional kitchen.

Paolo Caridi

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Master Baker, Chef Pâtissier, Gelatician

Maestro Caridi is a pastry chef based in Reggio Calabria, Calabria. Along his trajectory as a pastry chef he has mastered to perfection a large array of traditional Italian recipes and formulas. He keeps an always-active agenda of demonstrations and lessons all over Italy and abroad, where he shows students his Italian culinary roots with brilliant expertise.

His work on sweet rich naturally levitated dough is legendary, making his Panettone a work of art. The vast knowledge he holds on the best seasonal Italian products make his confections unique, he is a strong advocate of local, naturally produced, Italian “materia prima”, on which he has been building his career from the beginning.

Maestro Caridi also holds some Guiness World Records, like “Largest torrone in the world” and “Largest Cassata in the world”; awards from his many successful participations on national competitions; and the recognition from several professional Italian pastry associations.

Marco Pinna

Marco-Pinna

Master Pâtissier, Master Baker, Gelatician

Diplomato con ottimi voti al corso di pasticceria professionale dell’Alma di Colorno, ha iniziato subito la sua ascesa nel mondo dell’alta pasticceria, spaziando dal mondo dei laboratori a quello della grande hotellerie negli alberghi di lusso e alla ristorazione stellata.

Ha iniziato il suo percorso professionale nei laboratori di pasticceria di Ernst Knam, dove ha appreso le tecniche di lavorazione del cioccolato e la gestione di un laboratorio di pasticceria dai grandi numeri.

Un’esperienza con Antonino Cannavacciuolo, nel suo Villa Crespi, e poi torna a Milano per l’apertura dell’hotel 5 stelle lusso Palazzo Parigi, lavorando sotto la guida di Carlo Cracco prima e Niko Romito poi.

Successivamente si sposta a Verona da Giancarlo Perbellini, prima per occuparsi della pasticceria del ristorante, poi per guidare l’apertura della pasticceria veronese dello stesso chef.

Dopo una breve collaborazione a Roma nelle cucine di Oliver Glowig all’Hotel Aldrovandi, torna a Milano per un grande progetto, l’apertura dell’hotel Mandarin Oriental, dove tuttora lavora, catena alberghiera tra le più importanti e lussuose al mondo, guidata dallo chef Antonio Guida.

Nello stesso tempo si occupa di docenza e di consulenza per ristoranti e laboratori. Ama la pasticceria d’hotel, perché la reputa un trait d’union tra laboratorio e ristorante.

Nei suoi dessert unisce tecniche moderne e sapori tradizionali, perché sostiene che la tradizione vada rivisitata ma non tradita.

Mark McDonald

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Executive Chef, Sommelier

Mark McDonald is an internationally recognized chef, restaurant owner, and restaurant consultant. Chef Mark’s passion for introducing unique foods and wines to customers and clients is built on collaborations with winemakers, sommeliers, and culinary professionals from around the world. In recent years he has taught master courses and given presentations at gastronomy events and festivals throughout Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Scandinavia and North America.

In 2007 Chef Mark is co-owner of an award-winning restaurant, Old Vine Kitchen and Bar, in Costa Mesa, CA, USA. His menu offerings reflect a commitment to regionalism and the use of local seasonal ingredients, a hallmark of Chef Mark’s culinary training under Master Chef John Nocita at the Italian Culinary Institute.

Chef Mark now partners with the Italian Culinary Institute to lead the annual Splendors of Italy tours, culinary-driven trips through Calabria and Sicily that treats travelers to hands-on cooking lessons from master chefs, winery and agriturismo visits, and multi-course meals of regional cuisine. Chef Mark also instructs advanced sommelier and cuisine courses at ICI.

Chef Mark also supports his local culinary community. He can be found teaching cooking classes to both young “aspiring chefs” at local elementary schools, and adult students pursing professional culinary education.

Salvatore Postella

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Maestro Casaro

For the past fifty years Salvatore Postella has been making cheese. Born in Calabria, Italy, he moved to Tuscany at a young age to master the art. He then traveled throughout Italy and Europe bringing his expertise to dozens of existing operations as well as assisting in scores of startups. 

Salvatore possesses a rare cheese ‘culture’. Combining technology and chemistry he is able to create textures unique in the area of ‘mozzarella and all its secondary products. This has earned him a in demand position as a consultant in the Italian artisan cheese industry as he is able to create precisely what his clientele prefers.

Dr. Bill Schindler

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Practical Archeologist

Dr. Bill Schindler is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. As both an experimental archaeologist and primitive technologist, his research and teaching revolve around a comprehensive understanding of prehistoric technologies including lithic technologies, prehistoric ceramic technologies, projectile technologies, hunting, foraging, hide working, fiber technologies and all aspects of prehistoric food acquisition, processing, storage, and consumption. 

He believes that the better understanding of prehistoric life made possible through the archaeological record and a practical understanding of the technologies that created it can contextualize our place in the world and help provide answers to many of the issues facing us today. Bill is a strong advocate of traditional food ways and is constantly seeking new ways to incorporate lessons learned from his research into the diets of modern humans. In 2014, he was awarded the Washington College Alumni Associated Distinguished Professor of the Year Award, was nominated for the Carnegie-CASE-Phi Beta Kappa Professor of the Year Award, and in 2015 he delivered the keynote address focused on his approach to teaching at the world’s largest Experimental Archaeology Conference in Dublin, Ireland.

Yi-Chern Lee

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Cheese Technologist, Milk Specialist

Yi-Chern currently works with Fonterra, New Zealand’s largest company and world’s largest dairy exporter. Yi-Chern joined Fonterra in 2008 with ice cream manufacturer Tip Top, before becoming a cheese technologist and progressing through the technical graduate program. Yi-Chern also held a technologist role with the Growth Value Add team where he led a number of projects. These include the purchase and installation of new plants and processes. Programs focused on maximizing quality and minimizing losses, leading to the development and implementation of cost saving initiatives in excess of $20 million NZD. Presently, Yi-Chern manages the Consumer Dairy Foods and UHT portfolio across Fonterra globally. His current role helps drive sustainable growth and deliver on Fonterra’s consumer and food service strategy worth $5 billion NZD. 

Yi-Chern also provides consulting expertise to Mayfull Fine Foods Corporation based in Taiwan. He was invited to work directly with the CEO to strengthen new and existing suppliers to the business as well as providing safety knowledge through the provision of clear technical expertise and problem solving skills. Yi-Chern is a professional member of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST) and regularly presents to universities. He is passionate about food and the science behind food manufacture. Yi-Chern has won a number of awards at a regional and national level including the NZIFST Earle Travel fellowship in technology. Yi-Chern holds a Master’s of Science in Food Science from the University of Auckland and a Masters in Dairy Science and Technology from Massey University. Yi-Chern aims to help and inspire people through food, using existing technologies and exploring new ideas and concepts.

Christine Boerma

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Executive Chef

Christine started her culinary career 20 years ago, beginning as a prep cook, and working her way up to Executive Chef. She has worked in every position possible in a professional kitchen, including key roles in the operation of fine dining restaurants, resorts and farm to table concepts, including international chef exchange programs in Canada (FULLSTOP) is experience enough to have profuse knowledge from the food and beverage business (this makes little sense).

Her background includes experience in various styles and cultures, predominantly with Latin and Mediterranean roots, making her abilities flexible and expedient highlighting (remove) in creating dishes that fuse ingredients in an ideal way. She completed her training at Italian Culinary Institute’s Master of Italian Cuisine in 2018, focusing on pasta and meat inclined dishes.

Evangelos Triantafyllopoulos

Aggelos

Mixologist

Following ten years of being a roundsman in Athens’ dynamic bar scene, Agelos is the bar manager of the White Monkey Bar in Athens, Greece. In addition to his extensive work experience, his education in mixology includes a collaboration with Ian Burrell, known as the Global Rum Ambassador, the Dead Rabbit Team (voted by Village Voice as the best bar in the world) and many more.

Agelos conducts mixology seminars internationally and is known as an authority on innovative developments of unique flavor, color and texture combinations with cocktails and cordials. In his ‘spare time’ he is a drummer for a popular greek rockabilly group.

Ryan Castillo

Ryan

Sous Chef, Baker

Chef Ryan has worked in restaurants in Rome for several years and is now a permanent part of the Italian Culinary Institute team. He is as versatile as he is talented. Cuisine, pastry and baking are only some of his fortes as well as a the personality that we want to work with everyday.

Mariana Brewer

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Student Affairs, Logistics Coordinator, Mixologist

She is the last on this page but is the first face you’ll see when you step into ICI. Even before your arrival, Mariana will be with you for guidance and any assistance you require for your voyage.

Mariana is from Venezuela and has degrees in Marketing and Culinary Arts. She is currently studying for her sommelier certification with Associazione Italiana Sommelier (AIS), the Italian Association of Sommeliers. She speaks Spanish, English and Italian.

VISITING CHEFS

In addition to permanent chefs for English speaking courses, several of the world’s best chefs instruct here on a rotating basis.