The real strength of the Culinary Institute of St. Louis' culinary arts program is the combination of industry-driven curriculum, and our passionate, industry-proven chef instructors.

All of our chef instructors in the kitchen have earned either their designations from the American Culinary Federation as Certified Executive Chefs or their culinary education certification. This requires an extensive cooking practical which takes many hours of recipe development and practice. In addition, candidates also pass a written exam which also requires hours of study and refresher courses. We are very proud to acknowledge our culinary team of chef instructors and their accomplishments.

Chris Desens, CEC, CCA, AAC graduated from St. Louis Community College at Forest Park with an associate degree in hospitality management and later received his Bachelor of Arts degree (Summa Cum Laude) from Lindenwood University.  Chef Desens worked his way up the ranks in the kitchen and has honed his craft at many establishments including: Pfister Hotel, Country Club at the Legends, Cardwell’s and Racquet Club Ladue before joining the Hickey College team in his lifelong pursuit of culinary education. Chef Desens was a member of AAC Regional Culinary Team USA, which received a gold medal in the IKA Olympiade Der Koche Culinary Olympics in 2008.  He is a long time member of the American Culinary Federation, American Academy of Chefs, ACF Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis and is a Certified Executive Chef, certified culinary administrator, and certified culinary judge. 

Joe Hovland, CEC, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island with Associate of Science degrees in both Culinary and Pastry Arts.  Chef Hovland is a native St. Louisan whose career has included a balance of various positions including corporate and independent restaurants and corporate culinary trainer.  Chef Hovland is a fifteen year veteran of Cardwell’s Restaurants.  He is a member of the ACF Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis and earned his Certified Executive Chef designation.

Christine Allhoff, CEC, graduated from Fontbonne College with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations degree, concentrations in Communication & Performance.  Chef Allhoff later graduated as Valedictorian from The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY.  Her road to culinary education has included such opportunities as: Chef Tournant-Blue Ginger, Wellesley, MA; Sous Chef-Niche Restaurant, St. Louis, MO and Chef-Big Sky Café, Webster Groves, MO.  Chef Allhoff has received numerous awards of excellence from CIA, New York including those in wines & spirits and management.  In addition, she holds a Certificate in Elementary Italian and Excellence in Italian Cookery from European School in Lucca, Italy. Chef Allhoff is a member of the ACF Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis and recently achieved her Certified Executive Chef status.

Justin Keimon, CEC, is a graduate of Kendall College Culinary School.  Chef Keimon is a Certified Executive Chef by the American Culinary Federation of which he has been a member for many years.  He has participated in many culinary competitions and awarded numerous medals for his efforts.  His culinary career has included various positions at locations such as: Washington University D.U.C, Franco Restaurant, Granache, R. L. Steamers, Bellerive Country Club, Racquet Club St. Louis, University Club and Ritz Carlton.  Chef Keimon is the coach of our student culinary team, which was recently awarded a bronze medal and first place in the annual PFG Middendorf Culinary Challenge.

Heidi Haller, CEC, holds an A.O.S Degree from Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY as well as Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with Specialization in Advertising from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois.  Chef Haller has amassed over twenty years of culinary experience including Kaspar’s Restaurant in Seattle, Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco, several local catering companies, Cardwell’s at the Plaza, and Crown Plaza Majestic Hotel.  Chef Haller was Commis Tournant at Alte Poste in Klosters, Switzerland.  She has owned and operated Designing Chefs Catering and My Chef Heidi catering.  Chef Haller is a member of the ACF Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis and earned her Certified Executive Chef designation.

Amy Feese-Tyrrell graduated with distinction from Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise-Ferrandi in Paris, France.  In addition, she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art, specializing in Arts Management from Drury University in Springfield, MO.  Chef Feese-Tyrrell also attended New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont.  She worked in a 2-Michelin star restaurant, La Chevre d’Or in Eze Village, France before returning to the United States and became co-owner/operator of Bistro 6301 in Shreveport, LA. Her restaurant received numerous accolades including AAA 4-diamonds (2009, 2010), Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2006-2010 and SB Magazine “Best New Restaurant” in 2006.  Chef Feese-Tyrrell is a member of the ACF Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis and earned her designation of Certified Culinary Educator.

John V. Kennealy, CEC, began his culinary career in the American Culinary Federation Apprenticeship Program, and continued his education in the Professional Culinary Development Program at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY. He has been a chef at various clubs, hotels and restaurants, and a co-owner of a restaurant that was named best new restaurant in St. Louis. He is a 30 year member of the American Culinary Federation, is a Certified Executive Chef, and has made three appearances at the James Beard House in New York with the St. Louis Friends of James Beard. He has participated in many charitable events throughout his career that include the March of Dimes, Share our Strength, Operation Food Bank, as well as many others. Over the course of his career he has competed in many culinary competitions winning several medals.