Kendall College Spurs Illinois High-School Students to Victory at National Cookoff

CHICAGO – Three Illinois high-school students—coached by Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts—earned the distinction of top culinary team in America at the recent national Culinary Arts STAR (Students Taking Action with Recognition) competition during the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America’s (FCCLA) 2009 National Leadership Conference in Nashville. 

The national Culinary Arts STAR event recognizes students enrolled in high-school occupational culinary-arts/foodservice-training programs for their ability to work as members of a team to produce a quality meal using techniques and equipment typical of foodservice. Forty-one teams, consisting of finalists in statewide cookoffs, represented their respective states at this year’s competition. 

“Having worked with FCCLA at the national and state levels for the last decade, I’m thrilled that we were able to help the Illinois team achieve first place this year,” says Christopher Koetke, CEC, CCE, dean of the School of Culinary Arts and since 2005 an honorary member of the Illinois Association of FCCLA. “Kendall College has always supported the vision of high-school students to become successful culinarians in our vibrant industry, and that’s why we commit the time and resources to give students from Illinois the best possible training for the annual STAR competition each year.” 

Team Illinois consisted of a culinary-arts student each from Wilco Area Career Center in Romeoville, Maine West Township High School in Des Plaines and Lockport Township High School.  The three students were culled from six who scored highest among more than 50 students in the statewide competition held at Kendall College in April. 

“I’m so proud of our students!” says Marta Lockwood, executive director of the Illinois Association of FCCLA. “They did a tremendous job of representing themselves, their schools, Kendall College and Illinois FCCLA. You can tell that each of the team members has a true passion for cooking. Illinois FCCLA is very fortunate and proud to be a partner with Kendall College, and we look forward to bringing many more first-place awards home.” 

Students making up the winning Illinois team were trained by Michel Coatrieux, adjunct coordinator and chef-instructor at Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts, which serves as an official partner with FCCLA at state and national levels.  

“The training that students received from Chef Coatrieux was amazing!” Lockwood says. “They definitely are on a path to success.” 

“They were an exceptional team,” Coatrieux says. “Not only have the students from Illinois been training in culinary arts at their respective high schools for several years, but they are already working in foodservice jobs. They have a very strong passion for the industry, and each of the students is driven by the dream of going on to cooking school and becoming a professional chef. We’re very proud of these young people, and support them fully in achieving their career goals.” 

In addition to their gold medals as a result of their win in Nashville, Kendall College offered the three first-place Illinois students up to $42,000 each in scholarships for the entire, four-year Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts degree program (or, up to $3,500 per quarter). All other students who participated in the FCCLA competition at the national level were offered up to $9,000 each for the same program (or, up to $750 per quarter). 

About Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)

FCCLA is a dynamic national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work and societal issues through family-and-consumer-sciences education. Based in Reston, Va., FCCLA has nearly 220,000 members in more than 6,500 chapters from 50 state associations and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is the only career and technical in-school student organization with the family as its central focus. The organization has involved more than 10 million youth since its founding in 1945. 

About Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts

Founded in 1985, the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College is among the premier culinary-training programs in the United States, offering associate and bachelor’s degrees and certificates in culinary arts as well as associate degrees and certificates in baking and pastry. The school occupies a stunning “Riverworks” campus near downtown Chicago. The American Culinary Federation has accredited the Culinary Arts Associate and Baking & Pastry Associate programs since 1988. Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2009, Kendall College also operates Schools of Hospitality Management, Business and Education. Since 1962, it has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (, 800.621.7440). Kendall College is a member of the Laureate International Universities network. For more information, visit