THE CHOPPING BLOCK – CHEF PROFILES

Shelley Young

Shelley Young

Growing up in a small Iowa town may not be the setting that conjures up images of gastronomy, but the influence of an Iowa upbringing has helped shape Shelley's cooking and teaching style.

Shelley spent her youth surrounded by the vivid colors and flavors of the freshest fruits, vegetables, poultry and fish. Memories of summers spent putting up beans, corn, & tomatoes, afternoons pitting sour cherries for pie or hunting wild morel mushrooms with giant hefty garbage bags, and catching fresh catfish on a weekend camping trip created Shelley's appreciation for fresh, unfussy, flavorful food.

Shelley's straightforward style is illustrated by her heartfelt belief that cooking is easy, and anybody can do it. All anybody needs is a few tricks and tips, a handful of well tested recipes, and some time saving cooking tools, all of which Shelley offers at the Chopping Block with sincerity and humility.

Shelley holds a degree in the Culinary Arts from Des Moines Area Community College, and has taken many cooking classes from international experts, including Spice Inc. and Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans, and an intensive program in authentic Mexican cuisine at The Red Cabbage Cafe in Puerto Vallarta.

In San Diego, Shelley was the chef from 1987-1994 at Charlie's Grill, a TS Enterprises establishment known for preparing the freshest seafood and local produce. After moving to Chicago in 1994, she became chef at the now defunct Cafe du Midi, a groovy Bucktown Bistro with a Mediterranean twist. She spent some great years (1995-1998) as private chef for a fantastic local couple, and then created the Chopping Block, which opened its doors in April of 1997.

Shelley's unique concept of a recreational cooking school, gourmet kitchen store and private event business has provided Chicago with one of the busiest recreational cooking schools in the country. Each month The Chopping Block offers an average of 300 cooking classes and private events and keeps an expanding active student data base currently at 63,000. Shelley has built a brand that is locally and nationally recognized through her effective Public Relations and Marketing campaigns, providing literally thousands of interviews, feature articles and accolades.

  • Educator of the Year, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, 2013
  • Top 50 Retailers, Gourmet Retailer 2011
  • Best Retailer of the Year, River North Business Association 2011
  • Best Cooking School, Time Out Chicago 2010
  • Nominated Cooking School Teacher of the Year, IACP 2008
  • Gourmet Retailer Leadership Award, Gourmet Retailer 2006
  • Good Eating Award, Chicago Tribune 2006
  • International Entrepreneur of the Year, International Association of Culinary Professionals 2005
  • Lincoln Square New Business of the Year, Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce, 2004
  • Top 20 under 40, Gourmet Retailer 2004
  • Small Business of the Year, Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce 2003

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