A chocolate wall on which guests painted their names elicited oohs and ahs, as did lavish cheese, charcuterie and confection displays, a Thai station manned by culinary-arts students, and an ice “screen” on which images were projected. Steamed dumplings, sushi rolled on the spot and freshly made mojitos wowed guests, too. But, generating the most excitement the evening of February 14 in The Dining Room at Kendall College was the announcement that Chef Christopher Koetke, dean of The School of Culinary Arts, had received the inaugural Award for Excellence in Culinary Education from the Foodservice Educators Network International (FENI).
The award, presented amid approximately 200 guests, most of them foodservice educators from across the nation visiting Chicago for FENI’s 12th-annual Summit, recognizes Koetke’s accomplishments and leadership in the foodservice-educator community, as well as his impact on the field of culinary education.
“As an educator, Chef Koetke’s influence extends beyond the classroom to serve the foodservice industry as a whole,” said Daniel von Rabenau, executive director of FENI and publisher of Chef and Chef Educator Today magazines. “In addition to his unparalleled commitment to helping other educators reach their fullest potential, Chef Koetke is an inspiration to students, and has demonstrated true leadership in positioning Kendall College as one of the premier culinary-arts programs in the nation.”
Koetke has taught at The School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College since January 1998. He was named associate dean of the Culinary School in 2002 and dean in 2005. He hosts the Midwest Emmy-nominated cooking show, “Let’s Dish,” on the LivewellHD television network in the United States, and is co-author of The Culinary Professional (Goodheart-Willcox Publishers, 2010), a comprehensive introductory high-school culinary-arts textbook. Last year, he was named Cooking Teacher of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).