Chicago is, among other things, a city of beginnings. The car radio and the television remote control both were born there, the Atomic Age started at the University of Chicago, and the famous U.S. Route 66 begins in front of the city's storied Art Institute. The Windy City's history of starting great things, coupled with its world-class depth and variety of culinary experiences, makes culinary schools in Chicago seem like an exciting place to break into the professional world of food.
Of all the things Chicago is known for, the Chicago hot dog may loom largest. It's a fat Vienna sausage on a poppy seed bun, topped with mustard and glowing green relish, buried under chopped onions, tomato slices, spicy sport peppers and a dill pickle spear (with celery salt as a matter of taste) -- and it's better experienced than described. Some folks say the best in town is at Gene & Jude's on River Road, but the Vienna Beef factory itself does have a public cafeteria.
Chicago is also famous for its deep-dish pizza -- a pile of sauce and pizza ingredients that is unfair to call "toppings," surrounded and supported by a thinner crust than seems sensible. This is a pizza that's served with a fork. Pizzeria Uno touts its version as the first deep-dish Chicago pizza, and the family-owned Lou Malnati pizzerias are a local mainstay.
Of course, Chicago isn't all extraordinary and creative ballpark food. The fine-dining scene is one of the best in the world, with a large number of legendary restaurants that includes Grant Achatz's Alinea, one of just ten three-star Michelin restaurants in the country, as well as area chefs consistently being named as semifinalists, finalists and winners of the James Beard Awards.
Also, as some food writers have put it, ethnic food in Chicago is just called "food." The diversity of the city's cultural influence is matched only by other alpha-class world cities such as London, Paris and New York. Chicagoland residents can find upscale, midscale and downscale fare from all the world's cuisines on just about any night of the week.
One of the most exciting things about studying food in the Windy City is the sheer number of professional influences that serve as the extracurricular environment for students at culinary schools in Chicago. There are enough top-tier restaurants in the area that at least a few lucky graduates are sure to find their way onto the line in a kitchen where dreams are made (and served).
Another boon for students of Chicago culinary schools are the numerous under-the-radar establishments, such as Skylark on Halsted Street, where fresh and local vegetables go into the salads, vegetables are fresh and local, and housemade applesauce is served with the pierogi. It is at such places where future chefs can get industry experience before, while or after they learn the finer points from their academy education.
Chicago provides a vast landscape of opportunity for aspiring chefs, restaurateurs and other graduates of culinary colleges. In Chicago, home of the world's first skyscraper and the two tallest buildings in North America, the sky really is the limit.
"Awards Season/James Beard Finalists Announced," Eater Chicago, 2013, http://chicago.eater.com/tags/awards-season
"5 Best Hot Dogs: I'm Right (And You're Wrong)," CBS Chicago, October 18, 2011, http://chicago.cbslocal.com/top-lists/5-best-hot-dogs-im-right-and-youre-wrong/
"Chicago's Food History," The (Toledo) Blade, Kathie Smith, May 1, 2007, http://www.toledoblade.com/Food/2007/05/01/Chicago-s-food-history.html
"Chicago History," City of Chicago, 2013, http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/about/history.html
"North America's tallest buildings -- Top 20," Emporis, 2012, http://www.emporis.com/statistics/tallest-buildings-northamerica
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