For Cliff Kelley, the longtime radio personality on WVON-AM, a grilled Cobb salad was proof to him that Washburne Culinary Institute students are going to be just fine when they graduate.
"I have been here before and try to come as much as I can, because it's important to support students," Kelley said as he ate at the institute’s Sikia restaurant in Englewood during a community preview Friday.
"The food was simply marvelous and the service was on point. I think these kids are going to make great strides once they graduate."
About 30 people attended Community Day at the restaurant, at 740 W. 63rd St., where patrons were served a meal that normally sells for $7. Once the restaurant opens on Wednesday, lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays. The restaurant closes when Kennedy-King College is on winter and summer break.
Washburne is part of Kennedy-King, and gives students like 30-year-old Portage Park resident Larry Etcitty real-world experience by having them run Sikia.
"I have always wanted to be a cook ever since I was a little boy. Instead of watching cartoons I would watch cooking shows on Channel 11," recalled the father of two daughters. "My grandparents were good cooks. That's how I got interested in cooking. After I graduate [in May] I want to get some experience as an executive chef and then open my own restaurant."