Sure, Abe Lincoln grew up here and for the city’s 120,000 residents, it may seem like not much has changed, but in Springfield you will find over 200 restaurants. In fact, Springfield has the highest restaurant growth index in the state of Illinois, even above Chicago. It ranks number 15 in the nation, according to Nielsen. It also has the highest restaurant sales per capita, beating out even Chicago. Often referred to as the unofficial diner capital of Illinois, Springfield showcases some of the best comfort food in the state, including places that line historic Route 66.
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Three million people call Chicago home and they are fiercely proud of their Forbes Four and Five star rated and Michelin starred restaurants. And the numbers don’t lie - $16 billion in restaurant sales, from over 21,000 restaurants, 24 of which have Michelin star ratings. You can’t discuss Chicago without mentioning Alinea - Executive Chef Grant Achatz’s restaurant that redefined the dining experience through an 18-22 course meal based on a seasonally driven menu.
Little waterfront Peoria, with just 120,000 souls, is not a typical foodie destination, but this timeless river city is teeming with a wide range of trendy restaurants, and a riverfront farmer’s market that features Illinois-grown foods only. Approximately three hours southwest of Chicago it is the oldest European settlement in the state. Today an emerging arts, entertainment and dining district lines Peoria’s waterfront along the Illinois River.
Restaurants, chefs, and restaurateurs across Illinois continue to garner acclaim from publications like Michelin Guide, Forbes, and Wine and Spectator. This state of more than 13 million people take their food seriously. Dominated by the Chicago metro region, Illinois' culinary arts industry is a $22.4 billion per year industry, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA). This presents a huge opportunity for prospective students who are thinking about a culinary career.