The Mind of a Chef and the Secret of “Lettuce”

Presented by Justin Diglia, Executive Chef
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, Chicago

It’s probably safe to say that all of us who attend the Culinary Historians of Chicago programs are ardent foodies. We enjoy discussing food and how it connects us to culture and to life itself. And we enjoy the magic that Chicago’s chefs put on our plates. Yet how many of us really know what motivates a person to go into a field where the work is grueling, the hours are daunting, and the pay can be puny?

Come join us as one of Lettuce Entertain You’s star chefs, Justin Diglia, bares his culinary soul and exposes the passion that propels people like him to toss themselves into the bubbling stew of a chef’s life. Chef Diglia will also highlight the history and success of “Lettuce,” one of the nation’s most respected and innovative restaurant groups founded by iconic restaurateur Richard Melman.

Here are a few “appeteasers” from Chef Justin’s talk:
 “Chefs work 50-60 hours a week, holidays, and eekends, and the pay sometimes isn’t that great. You never get in this industry for the income. You get in this industry for the love of food.”
 “The dining experience isn’t about the chef’s ego. It is about the guests enjoying themselves.”
 “Chefs in the 70’s/80 got away with screaming and throwing stuff and just being disrespectful to their staff. But chefs today are expected to be more professional and more educated. I always recommend if someone wants to go to culinary school that’s fine, but they should continue their education in business and get a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.”
 “Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) changed forever the way Chicago dines. With more than 100 locations, mostly in Chicago, LEYE is known for its great food and systems. At Joe’s, we host several consultants a year who come in and see how we operate.”

Biography: Growing up in a small Ohio town, Justin Diglia’s interest in hospitality didn’t stem from dining in splashy restaurants or eating the food of award-winning chefs. Rather, it was the time he spent in the kitchens of his Italian family that initially inspired his culinary ambitions. Justin attended Sullivan University In Louisville, Ky, where he graduated with a double major in Culinary Arts and Business Administration. Following graduation, he took a position as executive sous chef at Vincenzo’s, an old world Italian restaurant in Louisville. Justin moved to Chicago in 2011 where he joined Joe’s as a sous chef, rising to executive chef in 2016. Today, Justin oversees the daily operations of one the nation’s busiest steakhouse kitchens.

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Saturday, December 2, 2017
10 a.m. to noon

At Kendall College School of Culinary Arts
900 N. North Branch Street, Chicago
(Located just north of W. Chicago Ave. at N. Halsted St.)

Cost of the lecture program is $5, $3 for students and no charge for CHC members and Kendall students and faculty.

To reserve, please e-mail your