Meet The Chef
From a young age, Todd Engel demonstrated an unusually strong interest in food. In preschool, he learned the magic of making butter by shaking cream in a jar until the curds separated from the whey; when he was older, he wrote breakfast menus for his parents and placed them by their bedroom door; and before he became a teenager, he asked for presents of cooking pots, pans and knives instead of Super Nintendo games.
When Todd was 12, he got a job washing dishes for a well-known Chicago catering business, and over the next several years learned to make all kinds of food from scratch, including pastries and cakes.
When I asked Todd if there was someone in his family who inspired his interest in cooking, he said his father played a big role. Todd's dad was a law student, and he wound up doing the cooking because Todd's mom worked full time. The food wasn't fancy, but it was good and basic and it satisfied.
At Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Todd was thrilled to discover the curriculum offered three different cooking classes; two on the basics and nutrition, and a third on international cuisine. Todd enrolled in all three and brought his own knives to class.
After graduation, Todd attended Praire State College in Chicago Heights for two years and pursued a liberal arts education. Kendall College followed, and Todd enrolled in their esteemed culinary program. He was in his element there, and received thorough training in all aspects of cooking, including classic French cuisine.