The James Beard Awards are the Oscars of the food industry:


But it’s more than that. It’s also where the best and brightest of the food industry go to shine. Where food trends of the past are put to bed or brought back to life. Do you know where the old punch bowl is? Because as you will hear in this interview, punch is making its comeback on the food scene. You read that right. Punch is bringing sexy back!

This year, Kendall College in Chicago is hosting the James Beard Awards:


I interviewed Chris Koetke, Vice President, of Kendall College and a guy whose resume is longer than my driveway:


Along with being a truly nice guy and absolutely fun to talk to, Chris has all this going for him:

Christopher Koetke was named vice president of the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in 2012. He joined the School of Culinary Arts in 1998, serving first as a culinary instructor and later as associate dean, dean and executive director. Under his leadership, the School of Culinary Arts was awarded the Academy of the Culinary Arts Cordon d’ Or – Gold Ribbon Cooking School of the Year Culinary Academy Award for 2008. Also that year, the culinary arts program was named “exemplary culinary program” by the American Culinary Federation. In 2009, the school was named the official educational partner of the National Restaurant Association Conserve Environmental Initiative. Kendall was the first culinary school in the U.S. to receive Certified Green Restaurant status from the Green Restaurant Association for both the Dining Room and Cafeteria.

Koetke began cooking professionally in 1982, and has worked in some of the world’s finest kitchens, including French restaurants Pavilion Elysees, Pierre Gagnaire, Taillevent, and Pierre Orsi. He is a certified executive chef and certified culinary educator by the American Culinary Federation. In 2009, he was named the Cooking Teacher of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He was the host of the Emmy-nominated cooking show “Let’s Dish” on the Live Well HD network and co-author of the award-winning The Culinary Professional (Goodheart-Willcox Publishers, 2010), a comprehensive introductory high-school culinary arts textbook. In 2010, the Foodservice Educators Network International (FENI) honored him with its inaugural Award for Excellence in Culinary Education and he received the Pathfinder Award from Chefs Collaborative for his work in sustainability.

Koetke earned a B.A. from Valparaiso University and an M.B.A. from Dominican University. He is a member of the board of the American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission, the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the International Food Editorial Council, and the National Restaurant Association. He is also a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, National Restaurant Association, International Food Editorial Council, and Chaine des Rotisseurs.

Is there a better guy to talk to about food trends as well as get some grilling tips from? Of course, I veered Chris into the direction of grilling and BBQ and he offered up some tips that some may disagree with. Take a listen and tell me if you agree or not with his tips.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below or hit me with an email.


Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
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