Ai Culinary Faculty featured on Rachael Ray’s Thanksgiving Show, Promote Healthy Lifestyles for Kids

By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Culinary

November 25, 2015

Culinary faculty from The Art Institute of Michigan, a branch of The Illinois Institute of Art—Chicago, joined with celebrity chef Rachael Ray to help Detroit children and teens learn to live a healthier life.  The children, enrolled at Detroit’s Downtown Boxing Gym, were also visited by professional boxers Evander Holyfield and Laila Ali.

But that just began the day of surprises. They soon discovered that Ray had worked with Lowe’s Home Improvement and LG Appliances to install a brand new kitchen and study area in the gym. ConAgra foods rounded out the show of support with a $25,000 donation to the gym and its programs.

To take full advantage of the new kitchen, The Art Institute of Michigan’s culinary faculty will return to the gym to provide four independent cooking lessons and additional sessions may be added in the future.

The opportunity to make a difference in these children’s lives—while working alongside a culinary superstar—made an impression on all involved.  “It was a great honor to meet with Rachael Ray and Khali Sweeney, owner of the Downtown Boxing Gym in Detroit.  The instructors and I are excited to be providing the children at the gym with healthy cooking and nutrition lessons,” said Elliott J. Hilton, Culinary Academic Director, MBA, CDM, CFPP, The Art Institute of Michigan.

Detroit’s Downtown Boxing Gym provides free mentoring, tutoring, and boxing instruction to approximately 75 participants ages 7 through 18.  The gym was founded in 2007 by Sweeney as a way to change the lives of the kids living in some of Detroit’s toughest neighborhoods.  While boxing is used to get the kids in the door, they must first work on homework and receive tutoring before they begin boxing. 

Today, the program has a 100% high school graduation rate. 98% of the program’s participants have gone on to college.  This is an amazing achievement—when the gym opened in 2007, the graduation rate was between 13 – 30%.

"It was extremely exciting to partner with the Rachael Ray Show, as well as the Downtown Boxing Gym in Detroit,” according to Tracey Bass, President, The Art Institute of Michigan. “Being able to contribute to our community and help our youth obtain direction for their futures is what being in this business is all about.”

Coach Khali and his gym provide transportation that allows participants to go directly from school to the gym—then home. The children also receive a healthy meal while at the gym. In talking with kids at the gym, the show’s producers learned many of the students had a desire to learn more about cooking, and even go to culinary school in the future.

Following the many surprises and demonstrations, the entire group was treated to a Thanksgiving feast of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, and mac and cheese.

The segment will run on Rachael Ray’s Thanksgiving episode, airing Wednesday, November 25, 2015. The show will air on WDIV at 2pm in the Detroit area; other showtimes can be found here:


The Art Institute of Detroit is one of The Art Institutes, a system of over 50 schools throughout North America. Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options vary by school and are subject to change. Not all online programs are available to residents of all U.S. states. Several institutions included in The Art Institutes system are campuses of South University or Argosy University. The Art Institute of Michigan, a branch of The Illinois Institute of Art—Chicago, 28125 Cabot Drive, Suite 120, Novi, MI 48377-1200. © 2015 The Art Institutes.  All rights reserved. Our email address is

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By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Culinary

November 25, 2015

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