Mark Stanley

Culinary Arts

Chef Instructor
The Illinois Institute of Art — Chicago

Never stop learning. Mark Stanley , Chef Instructor , The Illinois Institute of Art — Chicago

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

When I turned 30, I realized my commercial real estate career was unrewarding. A friend from New Orleans was in the midst of a culinary apprenticeship in New York City. We got together to celebrate my birthday, and talking about his experiences spurred me to sign up for a chef training program when I got back to Chicago. I’ve never looked back.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

Having worked in the hospitality industry for nearly 30 years, I’ve seen and experienced a great deal. I devote half of my lectures to relating my personal experiences—and those of my friends in the industry—and using current examples to reinforce the concepts I'm teaching.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

In Facilities Design and Management, I expand the class project to concentrate on developing a restaurant that meets the standards of the Green Restaurant Association, an area I've been focused on for most of my teaching career. Understanding the importance of incorporating sustainable practices is critical to the future of not just our industry, but the planet.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Never stop learning. Our discipline is so broad and continually evolving, if you don't stay abreast of the changing landscape, you won’t reach your full potential.