Kendall College named Oak Parker Christopher Koetke dean of its School of Culinary Arts in December. The school recently moved to its new location on the Riverworks Campus in downtown Chicago. Koetke began at the School of Culinary Arts seven years ago, and has served as its associate dean since 2002. A noted ice carver, sommelier and consultant, Koetke makes frequent guest appearances on TV and radio food shows. Before joining the Kendall faculty, he served as executive chef for Chicago's Les Nomades, founded www.ChefTalk.com, and served as a contributing editor to Chef, Fancy Food, Culinary Educator Today and Local Palate publications. Koetke holds a bachelor's degree in French literature from Valparaiso University in Indiana and a Certificat de la Langue Francaise from the Sorbonne in Paris.
David R. Witte, a senior at Concordia University in River Forest, began an internship last month at the White House in Washington, D.C. A political science and secondary education history major who worked in the Students for Bush campaign, Witte was one of 100 interns selected from a pool of thousands. He'll work in the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence, where his chief responsibility will be to reply to mail from citizens.
Sandra J. Gbur, executive director of West Suburban Special Recreation Association (WSSRA) and a member of the Oak Park-River Forest Rotary Club, was awarded the Founder's Award from the National Lekotek Association last month. She was selected because of her leadership efforts to restore state funding to 19 Lekotek centers in Illinois last spring. Lekotek is a play intervention program used by WSSRA, and includes a 2,000 item toy lending library and monthly family play session.
Master artist Victor Pichardo of Oak Park has been awarded a grant from the Illinois Arts Council to teach Mexican folk rhythms in music and dance to apprentice Lorena Iniguez of Chicago. The grant is part of the council's Ethnic and Folk Arts Master/Apprentice Program, which recognizes the need for structured opportunities to pass on traditional arts through a teaching/learning relationship. Master artists receive a $2,000 honorarium, and apprentices receive $1,000. Awards are based on the recommendations of cultural specialists.
A musical Force
Ben Force, a freshman at Lawrence University, was chosen for the National Band Association-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Honor Band. Featuring 80 of the top student musicians from colleges and universities throughout Wisconsin, the honor band performed at a public concert on Jan. 29 at the Mead Hotel in Wisconsin Rapids. A 2004 graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School, Ben plays clarinet in Lawrence's symphonic band. His parents are Oak Parkers Jeanne Douglas and Ernest Force.