A message from the president of Chicago’s Kendall College.
From Indian cuisine on Devon Avenue to Italian food on Taylor Street, Chicago’s restaurants are just as diverse as the city itself.
The city’s culinary industry now stands at 7,300 restaurants, a number that continues to grow. Not only is the industry responsible for great food, it is also an economic engine that employs tens of thousands of creative and hardworking people. I’m thrilled that Chicago took center stage for the James Beard Awards to celebrate and recognize the outstanding achievements of the men, women, and restaurants responsible for the dramatic growth of our industry.
While we recognized the James Beard Award winners for their mastery in the kitchen, their ability to turn their craft into successfully managed brands and businesses is just as remarkable. We see the success stories every time we turn on the TV, when celebrity chefs make their recipes look effortless. What we don’t always see are the long hours off camera, and the work ethic and hard-won wisdom each chef relies on to manage his or her restaurant(s) and other business ventures.
One of our Kendall College graduates, James Beard Award winner Adam Siegel, corporate chef and managing partner at Bartolotta Restaurants in Milwaukee, often shares with young chefs he mentors that it is just as important to be able to build and manage a balance sheet as it is to build an award-winning dish. If not for the former, the “shelf life” of the business might expire well before its time.
For students considering culinary careers, the best institution of higher education is one that understands the significant role business skills play in paving the way for successful careers and also provides the opportunity for its students to learn, practice, and perfect these skills. This is absolutely fundamental to our approach to culinary education at Kendall College, where we arm students for success with not only culinary training, but with business skills like accounting, marketing, personnel management, and entrepreneurship.
By doing so, the talented young adults on which our nation’s culinary future depends will be better prepared to turn their passions into profitable and sustainable businesses.