Faculty Spotlight: Chris Thielman
Program: Culinary and
Chris Thielman enjoys the energetic pace of kitchen work.
"When the dining room filled up with guests, I knew that every night would be a different series of challenges," explained Thielman, professor of Culinary and Hospitality Management at College of DuPage.
His culinary classrooms also presents a series of challenges, which he eagerly meets.
"Our industry operates on an exciting continuum, drawing on traditions of the past and constantly adding new techniques and applications to our base of knowledge," Thielman said. "There is always something new to learn."
After high school and training at the Technology Center of DuPage, Thielman attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Upon graduation, he worked in several hotels and restaurants in the Chicago area, working his way up from line cook to executive chef. One of his most interesting jobs was as a regional training chef for a large company, where he taught chefs and assistant managers the ins and outs of their recipes and kitchen management skills.
He currently holds a bachelor's degree from Northeastern Illinois University and a master's degree from Roosevelt University.
"My last post before my employment at College of DuPage was as executive chef of the seafood restaurant Annabelle's in Glenview, which achieved a 4-star rating during my tenure," he said.
Such high-level experience is something he gives back to his students on a regular basis, whether it's in the classroom or after they've graduated.
"Since we don't know where our students will land upon graduation, I try to prepare them for various work scenarios while they are here," Thielman explained. "Our industry is so vast that I feel it is my duty to give them value for their educational dollar. I try to squeeze as much information into their day as I feel is appropriate. Whether it is a small idea for a garnish or a suggestion on how to develop a full menu, I strive to develop creativity and instill a sense of commitment and responsibility.
"My greatest inspiration comes when I get an e-mail or a phone call from one of the graduates and they tell me how much their education at College of DuPage is helping them in their current position. We often discuss new ideas and sometimes I act as a sounding board for some work decision or menu-related questions. I always smile and think that this makes it all worthwhile. It gives me renewed inspiration and hope for the future of our industry."
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