We are exceedingly proud of the quality of instructors who call Kendall College home. They come to us with backgrounds at restaurants, foodservice corporations, hotels and other educational institutions, however they all share a love of food and teaching.
Our award-winning faculty come from five countries, instilling a global perspective into the kitchen. All chef instructors have strong managerial experience and at least 10 years of hands on experience in the field.
Included in the culinary arts faculty are two Certified Master Bakers, one registered dietitian, authors, certified executive chefs and pastry chefs. They represent all facets of the foodservice industry.
Program Director, School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management
Program Director, School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management
Leigh Uhlir, Program Director, School of Culinary Arts and School of Hospitality Management, is an alumna of Kendall College, where she earned an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Leigh has served as a core contributing and full-time faculty member at Kendall, where she developed courses and training programs based on her professional experience at some of the nation’s leading hospitality companies and restaurants. During her career, Leigh has led server training at a five-star restaurant and a café and cigar bar at the Four Seasons in Chicago; a divisional trainer for five Las Vegas restaurants for Lettuce Entertain You; implementation specialist for MICROS hospitality point-of-sale systems; and manager and chef for a variety of restaurants in Chicago and Austin, Texas. She began her academic career in 2008 at Le Cordon Bleu College and obtained a Master in Education from American Intercontinental University with a focus in higher education and online learning. Leigh.Uhlir@kendall.edu
Chef Pierre Checchi has been in the culinary field for over 29 years. Born and raised in France, he has studied and trained under the rigorous and classic French tradition of apprenticeship. Pierre graduated from Ecole St Anne in St Nazaire France, and quickly worked in a two star Michelin restaurant, Relais- Chateau, under renowned Chef Michel Gaudin. After his military service as a mess chef in the Air Force, Pierre embarked for the United States as a young Chef and worked in Boston under Bob Brody.
After a brief return to France to work in various Brasseries specializing in French Bistro cooking, Pierre was asked to come back and work at the Four Season Hotel, Ritz Carlton in Chicago as a chef saucier. Pierre was then hired by Aramark Food Service Corporation where he filled many position as chef for their varied dining business accounts. In one of those account was the famous 95th restaurant on top of the John Hancock building in Chicago where Pierre worked as a Chef Garde- Manger then sous chef. In 1993 Checchi accepted a teaching position at the famous New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont. At Kendall, Chef Pierre teaches a variety of courses including Advanced Garnishing Techniques, Sausage Making, etc. Pierre.Checchi@kendall.edu
James P. DeWan is a chef, culinary instructor and award winning food writer, but his path to the culinary world was nothing if not circuitous. After completing a Master of Divinity degree at Chicago Theological Seminary, he spent the better part of two decades playing music, as an accompanist to some of the world’s greatest Irish traditional musicians on recordings and stages across the U.S. and Europe, as a staff songwriter for the Acuff-Rose Publishing Company of Nashville (home to Hank Williams, the Everly Brothers and Kenny Chesney), and as an instructor on the faculty of the Old Town School of Folk Music.
Always a passionate and self-taught home cook, he turned a one-off invitation to contribute to the Chicago Tribune into a regular presence in that paper’s Good Eating section as well as numerous other local and national publications, including Plate Magazine, North Shore Magazine and Restaurants and Institutions. As his presence on the culinary scene grew, he earned a degree in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (CHIC). Before long, he put his twenty years teaching experience to use, returning to CHIC, first as a writing instructor, and later on the culinary faculty. Since 2008 he’s served on the faculty of Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts, rated one of the top 10 culinary programs in the country. He was the recipient of that school’s 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award, beating out 34 colleagues from across
Kendall’s academic programs. His Chicago Tribune column, Prep School, now in its eleventh year, offers in-depth and lighthearted instruction in French culinary method and technique. A collection of his columns, Prep School: How to Improve Your Kitchen Skills and Cooking Techniques, was published in ebook form in the fall of 2012, and reached the #1 position on Amazon’s Top 100 Professional Cooking chart. It was published in hardcover the following year and is now in its second printing. He is also the author, with Jeffrey Elliot, of The Zwilling J. A. Henckels Complete Book of Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to Use, Techniques and Care (Robert Rose Publishing, 2010). James.Dewan@kendall.edu
Chef Walter Freund is a culinary faculty member. He has worked throughout Europe and in Bermuda. Freund also has an extensive background working in hotels, including serving as Executive Chef at the O'Hare Hilton, Sheraton International and Clarion International. Walter.Freund@kendall.edu
Maxwell Irwin, Lecturer in the Dining Room, started with Kendall College in September, 2017 and teaches front-of-house courses in the Kendall College Fine Dining Room. With that, Maxwell is responsible for introducing culinary students to Front of House operations and teaching them various service styles and techniques used to provide memorable guest service and experiences. Maxwell started his formal career in hospitality as a prep cook at St. Andrew’s Estates South in Boca Raton, FL, switched to the front-of-house and then spent several years working as a Culinary & Nutrition Services Manager for the same property. This paved the way for his move to formal restaurant management where he was named General Manager of 2 unique restaurants at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. He did eventually step away from operations and was named Training Manager for the all three Boca Raton Resort properties before making the move back to Food & Beverage and across the country at the Conrad Chicago in late 2016. firstname.lastname@example.org
Born in South Korea and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Chef Wook Kang had an interest in food at an early age. Having been influenced by his Korean heritage and the melting pot of cuisines in Chicago, his love of cuisine led to a career in food. He has held positions at prestigious restaurants that would inspire his creativity and the appreciation of food of all cultures. The lessons and inspirations he learned from there, provided the philosophies he has established as a professional and as a Culinary Instructor at Kendall College. Prior to joining Kendall College, Chef Kang served as the Program Chair/Director at Le Cordon Bleu. From 2012 to 2014; he was an integral part of CMC trainings across the United States, in addition to providing presentations for the American Culinary Federation and other organizations. Chef Wook Kang holds certifications through the ACF as a Certified Executive Chef (CEC), and also holds certifications as a Master Certified Food Executive (MCFE) and Certified Food and Beverage Executive (CFBE). email@example.com
Chef Thomas Meyer's twenty plus years of foodservice experience includes executive and leadership positions at Omni Orrington Hotel, Evanston; Royal Melbourne Hotel, Australia; Food consultant for The American Club, Kohler, Wisconsin; as well as for Crate and Barrel Company, Northbrook, Illinois. Recently, he was the Executive Chef of Don's Finest Foods, an Exclusive gourmet store and caterer of Lake Forest.
Chef Meyer is a graduate of Washburne Culinary School, where he placed in the top one percent of his graduating class. Chef Meyer also holds certificates from Harper College, and the Richmont Craft School of Lucerne, Switzerland. Chef Meyer has continued his personal and professional education by attending culinary schools in Chicago and Oaxaca, Mexico, which has enhanced his culinary profile.
Chef Meyer has been an instructor in both the culinary program, as well as the baking and pastry program, at Kendall College. Thomas.Meyer@kendall.edu
During his career, Christopher Quirk has been an elite chef, an entrepreneur and a culinary instructor. Besides holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Quirk also received an AOS degree from the New England Culinary Institute. After graduation, he worked as an Executive Chef at the Hôtel Sofitel in Redwood City, California. Later, he returned to Wisconsin to open a lakeside restaurant, The Antlers. Quirk's desire to teach his culinary skills to young chefs led him back to the New England Culinary Institute where he worked as a Chef Instructor. He later moved to Tortola, British Virgin Islands to develop and open a new Culinary Campus at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. In 2003, Quirk returned to the U.S. to become the Sous Chef for the Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette before joining the faculty at Kendall College. Christopher.Quirk@kendall.edu
Chef Peggy Ryan developed her love of good local foodstuffs while growing up on her family’s dairy farm in central Illinois. She has been an instructor at Kendall College in the School of Culinary Arts for 12 years, holding various positions including 11 years as the chef for the school’s Michelin recommended fine dining restaurant. Prior to her career at Kendall College, Chef Ryan spent many years cooking in Chicago and on Chicago’s North Shore. She worked for Leslee Reis at her restaurants, Leslee’s, and Café Provencal where she was the sous chef. . She then owned her own restaurant, the critically acclaimed Va Pensiero in Evanston, IL, for many years. Va Pensiero received numerous awards during her tenure, including Top Italian Restaurant, Zagat ChicagoGuide; 3 star reviews from Chicago Magazine, Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun Times; as well as Chicago Magazine Top 25 Restaurants While at Kendall, Chef Ryan was the recipient of the College’s inaugural “Excellence in Teaching” award and was also the recipient of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs National Educator of the Year award in 2009. firstname.lastname@example.org
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and a stint at The 95th atop the John Hancock Building, Kevin Schrimmer moved to France to work with and learn from some of the world's finest chefs, including Joel Robuchon in Paris. After returning to the US, Schrimmer become Chef de Cuisine at Chicago's Café Provencal. He then opened his own restaurant, Mimosa, in his hometown of Highland Park, Illinois. Schrimmer ran Mimosa until 2007 when he decided to pursue another side of his chosen profession—teaching the culinary arts. Kevin.Schrimmer@kendall.edu
Chef Sikorski took her first chef position at the Courier Café in Urbana Illinois. After holding the position of chef for two years, she went to the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park and graduated in 1984.
Returning to Chicago, Chef Sikorski worked at a five star restaurant, Le Perroquet, becoming their chef in 1985. She then spent 6 years cooking in France.
Chef Sikorski holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Dominican University, and is a certified executive chef and culinary educator. She is a member of Seafood Choice Alliance, Ocean Conservatory, and the American Culinary Federation. Elaine.Sikorski@kendall.edu