Whether you are a local or from another state (or even another country), it’s not hard to imagine enjoying a thriving career as a chef in Illinois. Many aspiring professional cooks think of Chicago as the primary place to obtain culinary education, but there are in fact plenty of culinary schools in Illinois that could give the Windy City the run for its money.
Regardless of the kind of qualification you need – bachelor degree, associate degree or certificate – there are many universities, culinary institutes, community colleges, technical training institutes and other training organisations that are willing to accommodate students in their high quality programs.
Some of the best Illinois culinary schools to apply to are:
Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago
It offers the critically acclaimed Le Cordon Bleu program. This is a cooking curriculum formulated in France and is one of the few qualifications that could take you from being a culinary student to a chef in high demand. You can enrol and hopefully admitted to study for associate degrees in culinary and pastry and baking.
French Pastry School
French Pastry School is an institution that focuses in training pastry chefs and teaches you how to master creating world-class desserts.
The Art Institutes – Culinary Arts
An organization with a great job placement record is the International Culinary schools that are branches of the The Art Institutes. They offer bachelor and associate degrees in the culinary arts, culinary management, pastry and baking, and hospitality.
Other top Culinary Schools in Illinois include:
- Southwestern Illinois College – The Culinary Arts and Food Management program of SWIC makes students ready for entry posts in the foodservice industry. This program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation, Inc.
- College of Lake County – CLC offers Hospitality and Culinary Management Program. The program is aimed to provide skills in food operation and food production. It offers associate degrees and certificate options that can land you jobs as chefs, bakers, cooks, restaurant supervisor and/or manager.
- City Colleges of Chicago – Kennedy King – This institution offer asscociate degrees and certificate options in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, and Baking and Pastry Arts.
- Kendall College – This top rated institution offers B.A. Culinary Arts, A.A.S. Culinary Arts, and A.A.S. Accelerated. This college aims to prepare students in a successful role in the foodservice industry, which includes top level roles, eventually.
- Robert Morris University – The Institute of Culinary Arts prepares the student to be ready and experience real-life scenarios in the culinary and foodservice industry.
- College of Du Page – COD offers the following programs: Baking and Pastry Arts, Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management Operations, Hospitality Sales and Marketing, Restaurant Management
- Danville Area Community College – This institution offers Culinary Arts Certificate programs that are focused on food safety and sanitation, food production, nutrition, and food preparation.
When you have as many choices as you do in Illinois, it becomes more important to narrow them down according to different factors. Ask yourself the following questions before filling out an application form. The answers determine the kind of future you might have after you graduate.
- Is the college you want to apply to recognised by the American Culinary Federation Accrediting Commission?
- What kind of facilities such as restaurants and kitchens are made available to students to hone their craft?
- What is the standard rate of job placement in that institution?
- Do curriculums balanced theory with practice? When can you work after your studies have ended?
Another question on your mind should be whether or not there are associations locally that you can become a member of and receive help in advancing your career. Fortunately, there are already associations like the Chicago Chefs of Cuisine, Illinois Restaurant Association and the Heart of Illinois Hospitality Association to give your career much-needed direction. It also would hurt if you took part in the Windy City festival, Chicago Gourmet and other annually held festivals, conferences and seminars to meet successful chefs, mingle with other students, gather tips for industry success, sample the state’s most loved dishes and volunteer to submit your own.