One of the reasons Chicago is so famous for world class cuisine is partly due to the world class culinary education chefs receive at the city’s five culinary colleges.The International Culinary School at the Illinois Institute of Art is located just steps away from famous Chicago landmarks such as the Chicago Theatre and Macy’s and as such, is the only culinary school in the heart of downtown Chicago. The school offers several culinary certificate programs, an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts and was the first to offer a Bachelor Degree in Hospitality Management in Chicago.
Students are taught regional and international cuisines and must work at least one academic quarter at the Backstage Bistro, the Institute’s onsite, student run restaurant. Located at 180 North Wabash, the Backstage Bistro has won a variety of culinary awards for excellence, was featured on Rachael Ray’s television show and book, $40 a Day and was even used for contestant auditions for another popular television show, Hell’s Kitchen.
In the shadows of where Chicago’s infamous Cabrini Green housing projects used to be stands the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago (formerly the Cooking & Hospitality Institute of Chicago). This school offers one certificate and two Associate degrees. What sets this college apart from others in Chicago is its affiliation (since June 2000) with the Le Cordon Bleu of Paris, a well known culinary training program. According to their website, under the Le Cordon Bleu program, students combine “…classical European techniques with modern American technology and training.” The college also has its own student run restaurant, Chataigne, located onsite at 301 West Chestnut.
With seven Academic Certificate, Associate and Bachelor Degree programs to choose from, the School of Culinary Art of Kendall College (located at 900 N. North Branch Street) was the nation’s first culinary school to receive Certified Green Restaurant Status for two of its restaurants, Dining Room and Cafeteria. The college boasts 16 state of the art professional kitchens at its $60 million Riverworks Campus facility just west of downtown. The School’s Dean, Christopher Koetke is the host of Live Well HD Network’s cooking show, Let’s Dish.
In the south loop, Robert Morris College’s Institute of Culinary Arts offers an Associate and a Bachelor Degree in Culinary Arts as well as a Bachelor Degree in Hospitality Management. The City Colleges of Chicago also offer Certificates and Associate Degrees in Culinary Arts at its Washburne Culinary School and its French Pastry School locations. They also have two restaurants; The Parrot Cage and Sikia located at 7059 S. South Shore Drive and 740 W. 63rd St. respectively.