Kayla Howey


Large photo of CIA alumni, Kayla Howey, ACAP culinary arts

“The CIA has the best education and curriculum. That’s why I chose the school. And in the end, I felt I made the right decision.”

Major: Culinary Arts (ACAP) 
Job Title: Creator and Author of the blog The Original Dish; Corporate Chef and Food and Hospitality Director, Chicago Franchise Systems
Location: Chicago, IL

Kayla Howey is the corporate chef and food and hospitality director of Chicago Franchise Systems and the creator of The Original Dish blog. “The Original Dish is an unconventional route that I got into because I fell in love with food photography. It’s a creative outlet, visually expressing what I love about food,” says Kayla. “My goal is to create a brand so I can publish a cookbook, start a product line, and host dinner parties or events. There are endless opportunities in this ever-growing and changing industry.” Her beautiful images are on display @theoriginaldish on Instagram.

Kayla attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in science and hospitality management with a concentration in food science and nutrition. “I wanted to attend the CIA at the Hyde Park campus right after high school,” says Kayla, “but my parents really wanted me to get an undergraduate degree. After graduation, I looked closely at the Accelerated Culinary Arts Certificate Program (ACAP) at the CIA’s Greystone campus and was able to fulfill my life-long dream of going to culinary school.”

Headshot photo of Kayla Howey, CIA culinary arts alumni“What initially attracted me to the program was the eight-month time frame. I was able to get all the classes I needed without repeating courses from college,” she says. “And the location was a real draw.” Kayla was active on campus and worked events at school and with local caterers. “Every job was eye opening and instructional, and I got to meet a lot of people. It was easy to learn because you had access to professionals at the school. The fundamentals were a good starting point. You learned the classics and the basic French techniques. It was this strong base of knowledge that encouraged and motivated me to continue learning. The CIA has the best education and curriculum. That’s why I chose the school. And in the end, I felt I made the right decision.”

Kayla worked at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant and at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro before returning home to Chicago to launch her blog. Kayla’s family has been involved in the foodservice industry for more than thirty years—including owning the iconic Al’s #1 Italian Beef chain of restaurants. Kayla’s father Dave is the owner and franchisor of the Nancy’s Pizza chain, which has expanded to 30 units in North Carolina, Georgia, and Illinois. Kayla was instrumental in the transformation of Nancy’s Pizza from a mainly a carry-out to a full-service restaurant with rebranding and a new menu and in the development of their new concept called Doughocracy Pizza and Brews in Geneva, IL.