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Chef Rick Bayless Starts Culinary Training Program In East Garfield Park

By Anthony Todd in Food on Oct 24, 2017 6:22PM

Chef Rick Bayless in the kitchen at Cruz Blanca

Rick Bayless, possibly Chicago's most prominent chef (and also in the running for Chicago's most philanthropically-minded chef) is heading to Garfield Park. As part of the opening of The Hatchery, a new food business incubator, Bayless will be running a culinary training program for high school and college-age students who want to work in kitchens.

Ask restauranteurs right now what their biggest problem is, and they will all say in unison: lack of labor. Bayless hopes to take this need and turn it into an opportunity.

“I believe this program can help surmount two big challenges in the city — lack of cooks to fill our restaurants’ kitchens and a lack of both solid preparation and career opportunities for the youth of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods,” Bayless said in a release issued this morning. "There’s a reason I think this program can make a difference: I can say that some of the most valuable people in our kitchens are ones that we’ve brought up from the most entry-level jobs, taught basic skills and self-respect, and seen flourish."

Students in the program will learn all the things that culinary students learn, plus they'll have some of Bayless's friends and colleagues (think chefs like Grant Achatz, Stephanie Izard, Paul Fehribach, Chris Pandel, Josh Kulp and Christine Cikowksi and Bill Kim) to guest-teach. Plus, thanks to some of those Bayless connections, they'll get assistance finding internships and eventual jobs after graduation.

The program won't launch until the Hatchery is up and running (scheduled for fall of 2018), but it sounds like it will be an incredible opportunity for students interested in cooking.