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Inside Kendall

Where are they now? Former Kendall College Culinary student now host of "Check, Please!"

Catherine DeOrio was working as a litigation attorney when she decided to change careers and follow her passion for the culinary arts.  After an intensive search by the show’s producers, she was named the new host of popular restaurant review series Check, Please!

Like many people who took a risk and changed careers, Catherine says “On the micro level my road hasn’t always made sense but on the macro level it all fits together.

“I always loved cooking and entertaining. While I was still working as a lawyer, someone turned in a photo of one of my parties to Oprah and I got a bit of attention. I looked in to working as an event planner but couldn’t find a job,” shares Catherine.  “I realized they weren’t going to invest in me unless I invested in myself.”

An intensive series of classes for the food enthusiast, the Kendall College Culinary Certificate experience puts you in our world-class training kitchens to make you feel just like a culinary arts student.

“Kendall’s program offered flexibility so I could still work and be in school. At Kendall I learned about so many other aspects of culinary. I met so many people that helped me.”

When asked about her advice for anyone starting a culinary program at Kendall College, Catherine was quick to say, “Relish the small victories. Little victories let you know you’re doing the right thing. The things that stand out are the small things. I remember the last week of my knife skills class my chef instructor said ‘Someone has been practicing!’ and I thought ‘Yay!’ with a big smile on my face. Knife skills were invaluable to learn. Anyone looking to start cooking … I always say “learn knife skills” even if you don’t go any further, you still will have made your life so much better.”

“You have to be willing to do anything. Take every opportunity. It’s been an incredible experience. I’m not trying to be cheesy, I think the biggest takeaway is that if you’re willing to put the time in and you keep your commitment up and work hard, you can achieve what you want.”

What made you choose Kendall College?

“The food world is small – not just in Chicago but in the world. You end up in such a good network. I came from a professional background and understood networking. I had already made mistakes in my early 20s. When I got to Kendall, I was really serious. I knew this was what I wanted to do. When you’re a career changer you really seize the opportunity.

Kendall has such a great reputation. You just get a basic, straightforward credibility factor. Culinary school isn’t just going to a quick class and drink wine. You learn discipline; you show up on time, you take pride in your station and in your uniform. That’s an important skill that is very transferable even if you don’t become a chef.

I just felt like there were instructors who were … engaged. I got good, real-world experience. Overall it was a great experience.”

Tell us about Check, Please!

“I wanted this job for so long. I’ve watched Check, Please forever! I’d always say “I want that job!” I really had no idea about the process but I wanted to pursue it. When I found out the show was looking for a new host, I turned my application in like everyone else. Making the video was fun, but the live interview was the most comfortable. Reading off Teleprompters are a bit more difficult but I’m excited to learn that skill.

Kendall was the start of it all. I don’t know where I’d be otherwise.”

Kendall College wishes Catherine the best of luck with Check, Please! and all future endeavors.

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