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Chicago students, James Beard-recognized chefs whip up delicious dishes

Chicago students take tips from seasoned James Beard-recognized chefs
Chicago students take tips from seasoned James Beard-recognized chefs 03:37

CHICAGO (CBS) — On Monday night, the prestigious James Beard Awards will recognize the best in the restaurant industry at Chicago's Lyric Opera, and four Chicago chefs will be up for awards.

They include the chefs of Indienne and Esme for Best Chef: Great Lakes. CPS students spent time in the kitchen with superstar chefs and learned the ropes.

Imagine being in practice for your club basketball team, and Angel Reese comes by to show you a few things. That's kind of what this setup is like for the culinary students selected to cook alongside these James Beard-recognized chefs.

Especially for one of the most anticipated weekends in the world of food.

All day, the kitchens at Taste 222 have been bustling with prep for this weekend's brunch, but unlike most kitchens, the culinary students outnumber the seasoned professionals.

"This is a huge opportunity for us. You never have something like this coming up on the table."

Josue Cervantes is one of over a dozen students selected to work alongside a handful of James Beard-recognized chefs from across the city.

The Foundation for Culinary Arts ushers Chicago Public Schools students into culinary careers annually and teams up with the James Beard Foundation to give young people exposure, resources, and experience.

"There's always opportunities here within the foundation," Cervantes said. 

With chefs creating at some of the highest levels.

"I feel like young people are there truly are the future, you know, and they don't get enough in school. So we all have to do our best to help them give them a hand," said Valeria Velazquez, owner of Loba Pastry and Coffee.

The students were divided into small teams, and each chef spent two days with their small groups, prepping and creating individual dishes for a six-course brunch.  

"I want to bring in a little bit more of the realistic view of what it's like to be in the kitchen, you know? So, yes, I'm here to help you be a little bit of a mentor and teacher, but I'm gonna be stern," said Rodolfo Cuadros, owner of Amaru, Blom Plant-Based Kitchen.

Diving right in, the teams successfully cooked, baked, and plated enough food to feed ninety of their friends, family, and members of the James Beard Foundation and the Foundation for Culinary Arts.

"It's always just being able to get in there and getting the opportunity to experience what I like, what I don't like, what I want to do (and) what I don't want to do," Cervantes said.

The James Beard Restaurant Awards will kick off Monday evening at the beautiful Lyric Opera House. CBS's Michele Miller, host of "The Dish," will host the event live on

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