Kendall College has helped to put Chicago on the culinary map. Hosting last Saturday’s “National Young Chefs Contest” sponsored by the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs was part of that endeavor.
The prize for hosting this event in the short-term was $25,000 awarded to the Kendall College Charitable Trust, which in turn will give these funds to qualifying students who demonstrate professional commitment, high academic standards and financial need. All culinary puns intended, these monies go to “la crème de la crème”.
The longer-term award is putting Chicago and its many restaurants and other charms on display to the visiting international clientele both attending the competition and those keeping track of it worldwide.
Literally, this event took over the Kendall College kitchens, the teaching halls of the culinary school within its halls. All the more impressive was that the school’s honor ceremonies were held the very same day. Some of the leading kitchen staff began their day in the wee hours assembling the mystery basket of ingredients that the competitors had to use to assemble their submissions. These were locally sourced ingredients--- ramps, rhubarb, beets, duck, lake trout, and Vermont maple syrup.
The school and its college do put an emphasis on local ingredients and in fact grow many right outside the schools’ doors in a student-kept garden. This is part of the school’s recognition as an example of Sustainability by the Green Council.
Joe Monastero, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Kendall College --and yes, related to the famous Chicago restaurant of the same last name,--puts the competition and all that Kendall does to help the city in perspective.
Monastero says, “In some rankings Chicago is now #9 in terms of tourism. If we go up even one level to #8 it means an increase in the hospitality trade on the order of 25,000 new full-time jobs. Someone has to train these new workers and Kendall is providing the leadership to get the job done.”
In addition Kendall has programs for certification in early childhood education, business administration, and other aspects of the hospitality management beyond culinary arts. There are over 1500 students in it’s the North Branch Street headquarters it has had since its move from Evanston in 2005. In addition to the 22 full-time culinary faculty and large numbers of adjunct faculty in the culinary school, there are a total of 250 full-time faculty and staff at Kendall.
Monastero continues, “You can think of this competition as a culinary Olympics. This is a high-profile and prestigious event for Kendall to help host….I love working here because “out of the mouths of babes”, meaning the students, I have rediscovered the passion and enthusiasm for culinary and hospitality excellence that means so much. This is an exciting place to teach and an exciting place to learn.”
There are many ways that one can both sample Kendall students’ creations at their on-site restaurant or find out more on education programs offered both for degree and non-degreed programs. Visit their website at www.kendall.edu.
Photos: Peter Kachergis