While many college environments may have more of a focus on classrooms where reading and writing are more commonplace than, say, fire, The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago is not most classrooms. A premiere learning institute dedicated both to the culinary arts as well as the hospitality industry in general, the school offers its students Associate of Applied Science degrees in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts and Patisserie and Baking, as well as numerous certificate programs. Students interested in hospitality management can also earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Founded in 1983, the school is associated with Le Cordon Bleu and was established by an acclaimed and successful cook whose curriculum heavily relies on encouraging the exploration and implementation of traditional European methods in both cooking and baking. A private school affiliated with numerous cooking and hospitality-related associations, students frequently head out into the world of cooking and baking immediately after completing their coursework, if not before. Students often find employment not just at the finest restaurants and bakeries in Chicago, but in all of the United States.
The affiliation with Le Cordon Bleu has assisted The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago in gaining a significant level of prestige. In place of traditional academics, courses are tailored to a hands-on learning experience that prepares students for what their real-world environments will be like, whether in restaurant kitchens, hotel lobbies, or prestigious bakeries.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Most of the courses of study at The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago would qualify as unique programs in that, unlike other traditional collegiate settings, courses of study work a little bit differently here. The school’s hospitality and restaurant management program provides a mixture of classes in practical management and the special needs of running a restaurant, including courses in hospitality business law, wine studies, food and beverage management, and other business oriented classes.
An even more hands-on program, the Patisserie and Baking Program draws on classic baking and pastry techniques and offers students hands-on classes where they learn from master chefs how to bake a variety of different dessert items and breads. Special classes on classic European pastries, creating only chocolate, and artisan bread production emphasize the necessity to develop proficiency in baking. Classes are frequently intensive and comprehensive, with students working in the school’s restaurant, apprenticing around Chicago, and even applying for career-launching jobs the minute that school is complete.
A less specialized program focuses on all sorts of cuisines worldwide is the Culinary Arts Program, where instead of a regular classroom, students spend most of their time in the kitchen or the school’s state-of-the-art kitchen labs. Whether it’s classical cooking methods, special technological advances, or food science, many skills are learned and perfected through hours of diligent coursework. Whether it’s conquering the latest chic ethnic cuisine or making a perfect homemade pasta, students learn valuable skills that put them in demand in kitchens around the country.
As a small and highly specialized school, The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago requires a little bit more in the way of admissions than simply filling out an application. Students are expected to complete a personal interview, too, which allows the admissions department to better understand where the student’s interests lie and which course of study would be the most effective.
International students must provide proof of their proficiency in English, through any number of English proficiency assessment tests, such as the TOEFL. All applying students must also provide their high school transcript, high school diploma or G.E.D., and a completed application. Interviews are scheduled after the written application is received.
Financial aid is available to most students who choose to attend The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, either through the form of school-sponsored scholarships or need-based financial aid. A number of special scholarship competitions are also open to students who need some assistance with paying for school.
Among the scholarship competitions are the Future Chef of America Competition, the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Market Basket, and the Le Cordon Bleu Pastry Market Basket. The Future Chef of America Competition provides over $250,000 in scholarship money for students. High school seniors submit essays on why they want to be the next future chef of America, with the top ten finalists competing in a cook-off where they use the assigned ingredients. First place is $10,000 towards school. Second place is $5,000 and third place is $2,500.
The Culinary Market Basket and Pastry Market Basket competitions are very similar, with first place in those scholarship contests netting students $2,500, second place worth $2,000, and third place $1,500. From all of the essays describing why the applicants want to be a chef, ten finalists then compete in a cook-off.
For more traditional forms of financial aid, students can schedule meetings with the Financial Aid office for any additional help, including help with FAFSA applications.
Student Financial Aid Details
Students at The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago come from a number of different backgrounds and age groups. In addition to a large number of students straight out of high school, there are also a number of people who are going back to school to perfect their skills in different areas.
A number of clubs and organizations exist on campus for students to get further involved in their education. Some of the most popular are the Cellar Club, the Bread Guild, L’Atelier du Patissier, and CHIC Bleusletter, the school’s newspaper.
Student Enrollment Demographics