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Inside Kendall

The James Beard Foundation Awards: Chicago as Center Stage

Chicago is the 2015 James Beard Award Winner

The James Beard Awards are rapidly approaching, and with them, all the excitement that comes with what has been dubbed the “Oscars of the food world.” For a food-crazed city like Chicago, the opportunity to host the awards and the famous guests the event draws is a dream come true—and the awards will return for the next two years! Take a look at our infographic to learn more about Chicago’s path to the James Beard Awards.


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At Kendall, we know first-hand what these kinds of prestigious events bring to our city and how they can benefit our students. “The James Beard Awards help our students dream of what they might do someday,” says Chef Chris Koetke, vice president of the school of Culinary Arts. “The awards are all about pointing to the future and about supporting education. And that’s what we do.”

Kendall alumni and Chicago are well represented throughout the history of the James Beard Awards, with 92 Chicago-area award semifinalists and nominees since 2011. Kendall alumni are major players in the national food scene. Names like Mindy Segal, Beverly Kim, and Ryan McCaskey will surely be floating around at this year’s proceedings, and all launched their culinary careers in Kendall’s kitchens.

So what can we expect to see at this year’s awards? Watch Chef Koetke’s overview, highlighting this year’s trends. These include the dominance of new faces in the awards’ Rising Star category; the continued surge of ramen; the new and exciting use of classics in the beverage category; and a turn for side dishes to be the stars.

“We are preparing our students for the culinary world as it will be in five years,” says Chef Koetke. So it is no surprise that Kendall faculty have such a clear picture of the emerging trends that are surprising even James Beard Awards regulars.

Kendall students will be paying close attention to the awards, learning from the many familiar faces that will descend on Chicago for the festivities. They are cultivating their own dreams of standing on the James Beard Awards stage and being recognized for outstanding accomplishments in their own kitchens.

Chef Koetke knows that his students have the right to dream big. “I walk down our hallways looking at our students’ faces, wondering who will be next, who I will see in a few years on that stage.”

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