The Illinois Central College Culinary Arts Institute received re-accreditation from the prestigious American Culinary Federation Education Foundation’s Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC) for its Associate in Applied Science Degree in Culinary Arts Management program. Remarkably, the ICC program is one of only two Illinois culinary schools with the rare Exemplary status and the only one outside of Chicago.
“We are incredibly proud of the Culinary Arts Institute at ICC. This accreditation lends additional credence to our already stellar program and ensures we continue meeting high standards and levels of quality in culinary education,” said ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey.
To receive the ACFEF Exemplary distinction, the ICC program was confirmed to be in full compliance with ACFEF standards on two consecutive team reports. An onsite visiting team determined through a checklist and comparison of the program to the nationally recognized ACFEF Standards that the program had substantially met all eight Standards areas: Eligibility, Program Mission and Goals, Organization and Administration, Faculty and Staff, Curriculum, Facilities, Student Services and Assessment. The ICC Culinary Arts Management program will hold the Exemplary status for seven years.
The acclaimed program provides students the opportunity to learn in a state-of-the-art environment designed to replicate a professional kitchen. Students gain experience and exposure through catering events, fundraisers and other extracurricular activities, and they benefit greatly from ICC’s high placement rate with local and national businesses.
When the college was forced to transition to online learning in mid-March due to COVID-19, the Culinary Arts Institute demonstrated adaptation and innovation to keep students learning and engaged. Faculty created “food kit packages” containing ingredients and recipes needed to prepare dishes. These “take-home kits” allowed students to continue critical hands-on instruction from the safety of their home while faculty taught classes virtually.
This fall, ICC culinary classes will be presented in a hybrid format, including both online lectures and face-to-face, on-campus instruction. The on-campus instruction allows students to return to the state-of-the-art kitchen facility for necessary hands-on learning. Social distancing, specific entry and exit points, and personal protective equipment for students and faculty will be implemented. Culinary courses where hands-on learning is not required, such as Sanitation and Product Identification or Beverage Management, will remain online only.
Looking ahead, ICC is already considering the trickle-down effects the pandemic may have on culinary curriculum. Chef Charles Robertson, ICC professor and program chair, said, “There are many factors in flux in preparing students to enter an altered food industry. Issues like staffing, what menus will look like, and how businesses will balance delivery versus dine in are unclear yet. We will see what industry needs are during the pandemic recovery period and adjust the curriculum accordingly. I am confident our program will continue its exceptional status and adapt to the industry’s new reality.”
“These unprecedented times have had a large impact on our industry. Fortunately, the culinary scene has always been, and will remain, flexible and resilient,” said Chef Robertson. “The demand for restaurants has existed for hundreds of years. While COVID-19 has been a big challenge to chefs and restaurateurs, I know the resiliency of the leaders in the food industry will prevail.” The Culinary Arts Institute is located in Dogwood Hall on the Peoria Campus. For more information regarding the ICC Culinary Arts programs, visit icc.edu/culinaryarts.
Virtual interviews with Chef Charles Robertson are available and encouraged.