- Taste of Kendall
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Christopher Koetke is vice president of the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in Chicago, and vice president of Baltimore-based Laureate International Universities Center of Excellence in Culinary Arts. Since 2011, he has led the strategic direction of Laureate’s culinary-arts programs worldwide while maintaining a strong presence at Kendall College.
In addition to hosting the Midwest Emmy-nominated cooking show, “Let’s Dish,” on the Live Well HD network, Koetke is a regular editorial contributor to Flavor & The Menu magazine and the Chicago Tribune. He is also co-author of the award-winning The Culinary Professional (Goodheart-Willcox, 2010), a comprehensive and widely used introductory culinary-arts textbook for high-school students.
Prior to joining the Kendall College faculty in 1998, Koetke, who has cooked professionally since 1982 in some of the finest kitchens and pastry shops in France, Switzerland and the United States, was executive chef of Chicago’s critically acclaimed Les Nomades. In 1990, he was selected to compete and placed third overall in the U.S. finals of the biennial Bocuse d’Or, known globally as the Concours Mondial de la Cuisine, or World Cooking Contest.
Once at Kendall College, Koetke served for several years as a culinary instructor and later as associate dean of the School of Culinary Arts, until he was named dean of the school in 2005. In his first year as dean, Koetke developed and launched the school’s ecological-sustainability initiative, resulting in a program that today is woven throughout the curricula of Kendall College’s four schools and operational practices campus-wide. For his accomplishments, Kendall earned the Green Award from Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI)—the first ever presented to a culinary-training program. In 2008, under Koetke’s leadership, Kendall College expanded its sustainability initiative to provide education on this critical issue to the greater U.S. hospitality industry. The nonprofit Chefs Collaborative honored Koetke’s achievements with its inaugural Pathfinder Award in 2010 for his work in mainstreaming sustainability awareness and action in the U.S. hospitality and higher-education industries.
Under Koetke’s leadership, Kendall’s School of Culinary Arts was named Cooking School of the Year in 2008 by the Academy of the Culinary Arts Cordon d’ Or – Gold Ribbon. Also that year, the school’s culinary-arts program was named an “exemplary culinary program” by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
Koetke was named Cooking Teacher of the Year in 2009 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). In 2010, he received the inaugural Award for Excellence in Culinary Education from the Foodservice Educators Network International (FENI), and in 2013, the Illinois Association of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) bestowed upon Koetke its Distinguished Service Award. The following year, he received the national nonprofit’s FCCLA Distinguished Service Award.
Currently serving as a Conseillèr Culinaire Provincial for the Midwest region in La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs—the world’s oldest international gastronomic society—Koetke also is the recent past chair and continues to serve on the American Culinary Federation Foundation (ACFF) Accrediting Commission. Additionally, he is an active member of the Conserve Action Council of the National Restaurant Association (NRA), ACF, Research Chefs Association, International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC) and Les Disciples d’Escoffier.
Koetke has served as a board member of IFEC, the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and Dairy Board Innovation Center. Globally, he holds honorary memberships in the Indian Federation of Culinary Associations and Chef Association of Kyrgyzstan, and serves on the education committee of the World Association of Chefs Societies (WorldChefs).
Certified as an executive chef (CEC) and culinary educator (CCE) by the ACF—the largest organization of professional culinarians in the United States—Koetke has been an honorary member (HAAC) of the ACF’s honor society, the American Academy of Chefs, since 2011. He is a known and respected expert on all matters culinary and a sought-after speaker at foodservice, food-manufacturing and hospitality conferences around the world. Additionally, he regularly consults for a wide range of foodservice entities throughout the United States and abroad.
Koetke earned his MBA from Dominican University in River Forest, Ill., a bachelor’s degree in French literature from Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind., and a Certificat de la Langue Française from the Sorbonne in Paris, France. In 2011, he was honored as an outstanding alumnus from the Brennan School of Business at Dominican University, and two years later received an alumni achievement award from Valparaiso University.