A Loaf Worth Loving

When you're a culinary instructor at a school like Le Cordon Bleu, you spend a lot of time talking to your students about the fine dining restaurants at which you think they should try to work in order to gain some valuable kitchen experience. Here, in Chicago, we have an amazing array of high-end dining options for our culinary school graduates to choose from, and I try to help them understand how lucky they are to be looking for work in a city as densely packed with great restaurants as ours is.

While it's certainly true that fine dining and meticulously prepared food is an important part of the equation, it's also very true that seriously food-minded people like myself enjoy taking an occasional break from such high minded edible works of art, to focus instead on simple, comforting, and sometimes greasy goodness.

A good case in point is the massive, fryer basket-shaped loaf of onion "rings" my family and I feasted on last night at a Chicagoland institution of a restaurant called Hackney's. Simple? Yes. Comforting? Definitely. Greasy? Deliciously so. In addition to being infamous for their onion rings, Hackney's is also well known for their "Hackneyburger", best eaten on dark rye bread with plenty of ketchup. My parents took my sister and I there throughout our childhood to dine and socialize with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and now my wife and I plan on continuing the tradition with our own kids.

While the Hackney's onion rings may be as simple as food gets, they are also extraordinary in their unique construction. As far as I know, there aren't any other restaurants preparing onions in this particular way. After being thinly sliced, sweet yellow onions get a good dredging in seasoned flower, and are then forcefully crammed into a fryer basket before being submerged in hot oil until golden brown and crispy. When they arrive at the table, it is in the form of a tall, rectangular loaf, majestically riding high on a white porcelain platter, needing a fork and knife to liberate portions onto each diner's plate. Crispy and brown on the outside, soft, sweet, and meltingly tender within, they are an occasional greasy treat that is good enough to be worth incorporating into the realm of family tradition.

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            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
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            Baker College - Ground , Clinton Township

            Baker College is the largest independent college in Michigan with the most focused approach to education and training available. Our mission is to prepare you for meaningful employment.

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            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
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            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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            • Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
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            • Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
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            L'Ecole Culinaire , Saint Louis
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            Salter College , West Boylston
            • Offers training programs in preparation for professional careers in business, health care, and computers.
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            • 2 campuses in Chicopee and West Boylston, Massachusetts.
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