Penboscot Bay Press Compass Logo

Penobscot Bay Press
Community Information Services

News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 24, 2014
Island Culinary and Ecological Center names executive director, plans fundraising dinner

A new director for ICEC

Wes Norton was named the executive director of the Island Culinary and Ecological Center in Deer Isle, Maine in July 2014.

Photo courtesy of ICEC

The Island Culinary and Ecological Center has announced the appointment of Wes Norton as the organization’s new executive director. He has been active with ICEC projects for almost three years, as a board member, volunteer, events planner, and member of the coordinating committee for “Good Food at DISES,” ICEC’s pilot school lunch project at Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School.

In the past year, the project, under the leadership of ICEC Education Director Max Mattes, school principal Mike Benjamin and the school’s new head cook, Liz Barbato, has transformed the school lunch program from a heat-to-serve system to a lunch program in which healthy and flavorful dishes are almost all cooked from scratch, according to a news release from ICEC. Mattes, appointed by DISES as interim head cook in the fall of 2013, implemented widespread, successful changes in the school lunch program, which were continued and expanded upon by Barbato, formerly of the Brooklin Inn and a 2003 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She has also recently joined the ICEC Board.

Norton has been involved with the Good Food project since its inception. In his new position, he will be working to strengthen and enrich the project, broadening its connection to the wider community and developing new educational culinary programs.

Asked to comment on his new role at ICEC, Norton had this to say:

“The island and surrounding region has a tremendous abundance of exceptional food, from seafood harvested in Penobscot Bay, to vegetables and fruit grown on our farms. I am very excited to have the opportunity to continue our work to ensure the entire Deer Isle community has access to this bounty and can realize the joys that come out of cooking and eating together. I look forward to working with the organization and our partners to offer unique culinary experiences and educational opportunities for local residents, students, and food service professionals.”

Ingrid Bengis-Palei, ICEC’s founder, added that she is delighted to have Norton joining ICEC as executive director, and is looking forward to working with him. She said, “ICEC’s long-term goal is to have a culinary training institute on the island. That depends on developing a shared appreciation and enthusiasm for the enhanced use of the island’s resources right here at home. Wes is just the right person to help ICEC move on to the next phase of its development.”

A foraging expedition and fundraising dinner to support the expansion of ICEC’s Good Food initiatives will take place on Sunday, August 10, in Stonington. Chef Ross Florance from Per Se restaurant in New York and Devin Finigan, chef owner of Aragosta and ICEC board member, will prepare the dinner, highlighting locally fished, farmed and foraged products.

For more information on the dinner, email Visit ICEC’s Events Facebook page or website at to find out more about what ICEC has been doing. The deadline for dinner reservations is Friday, August 1.