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Chicago Tribune: Kristopher Murray Executive Director for Washburne Culinary Institute Makes Job Placement His Priority

3/16/2012 12:00 AM

Kristopher Murray is one of those rare exceptions. He arrived at Washburne from the St. Charles Country Club, where, after years as executive chef at the Chicago Yacht Club and sous chef at the Peninsula Hotel, he was the only black chef in the club's history. Several weeks ago, after getting settled at Washburne, he began calling every chef he knows in Chicago — black and white — and establishing connections, letting them know that though Washburne doesn't have a placement office, he'd be doing that too.

One of the first people he called was Doran Payne, who grew up in St. Lucia and became known in Chicago food circles as the chef of inventive Caribbean-inflected dishes at Rhapsody on Millennium Park; today, he owns Prairie Bread Kitchen in Oak Park. "I commend Kris for what he is trying to do," Payne said. "It's insane that the executive director is the guy doing the placement for his own students, though maybe that's a small price for what he's trying to change here. Maybe a chef hitting up a chef is more effective than a placement office.

"There are a lot of brilliant black cooks out there who will probably never see the light of day — which is for a lot of reasons, though I think this is partly a problem of exposure, to the right restaurants." Full article at Chicago Tribune