Alumni Association

Amanda Williams-Pyle

After 19 years in the restaurant industry, I have finally decided to indulge my passion for cooking by starting my own personal chef service. My love for food became clear to me with my first job at age 16 at McDonald’s in Bartonville, Illinois.

It was early on that I found that I had rhythm in restaurants and especially in the kitchen, always finding some reason to put myself in the back of the house section to create and invent something unique for the rest of the staff using only typical well-known menu items. I worked my way through the ranks at McDonald’s and was a store manager by the age of 18. Knowing that my career could never begin and end at McDonald’s, I enrolled and began to study basic core classes at Illinois Central College in East Peoria. ICC was a great introduction to college and helped me to get a feel for what to expect from a university school. Since the Culinary Arts department did not yet exist at ICC at that time, I took an interest in other topics and left Peoria to study English and Spanish at Southern Illinois University. While at SIU, I never left the restaurant industry and further developed my well-rounded experience by bartending and waiting tables to pay my way through school. Though I worked the front of the house during most of my college career, I always kept cooking as a hobby and began catering small events for friends and family and truly developed my love for food. I moved to Florida from Carbondale and then to Chicago, bouncing around the restaurant industry and gaining exposure, experience and knowledge of all parts of the business. After trying my hand at teaching in Peoria, I decided that my true passion resided with food, which led to the decision to return to school and attend Illinois Central College, but this time I enrolled in classes at the Culinary Institute. Once again, ICC offered classes that perfectly fit my needs.

I graduated from the ICC culinary program with honors and an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science. ICC had a wonderful culinary program that offered a well-rounded curriculum of classes that taught not only basic cookery, but also management, marketing, food safety, beverage, nutrition, and cost control classes amongst others. It is so important to be well-rounded in this industry and the ICC Culinary Program really helped to further develop my talents and to indulge my passions.

After an intense internship at the Pere Marquette, I was instantly rewarded with an executive chef position at Lindsay’s on Liberty. After Lindsay’s, I worked my way over to the Illinois Valley Yacht and Canoe Club (Ivy Club). It was here that I was truly able to develop my craft and express myself. I trained myself to cook different cuisine from all over the globe to keep the members satisfied and interested. After three years as executive chef and front house manager at the Ivy Club, I helped to open and manage other restaurants in the area and finally decided to accept a position at ICC as an adjunct instructor in the same culinary program that I had previously graduated from only years before.

For the last three years, I have been instructing not only student-based culinary classes, but also adult community workshops involving specialty topics such as regional cuisine and dietary concern classes for ICC and loving it. The thought of owning my own restaurant or business had been developing over the preceding 19 years as I matured through the industry and got a feel for every aspect of the business. As I began to investigate the realities of owning a restaurant of my own, I stumbled onto the Culinary Business Academy – a culinary program that has been operating for over 20 years to train personal chefs who cook meals for people in their homes. I took the program and graduated in 2012 with the title of Certified Personal Chef. And so, Tastes of Home Personal Chef Service was born.

Tastes of Home Personal Chef Service started as an idea in early 2012 and was officially licensed and operating by August of that same year. Tastes of Home is a personal chef service that caters to each customer’s needs. I am currently the owner of the first personal chef service operating in the Peoria and surrounding areas. Tastes of Home PCS comes to the client’s home, conducts an interview to gauge the likes and dislikes of the consumer, and then returns 1 or 2 days per month, depending on the needs of the customer, and prepares and packages meals for a 2 – 4 week period right in the customer’s very own home. The food is healthy, gourmet, sized well, fresh, and free of all preservatives, which makes Tastes of Home PCS the perfect alternative to eating out or store-bought boxed freezer meals. I see this service as a need for many homes, rather than a luxury, and for this reason, I offer my service to busy families and professionals as well as elderly clients and those with special dietary concerns at a truly affordable cost.

After almost 20 years of working in the restaurant industry, I have decided to share my talents and knowledge of food on a more personal level. I have a sense of pride and understanding of what family and good food means. I want to indulge you with the same comfort and passion that I learned early on about food.