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Culinary Students Run the Show at Parrot Cage Restaurant

By Wendell Hutson | June 13, 2013 7:44am | Updated on June 13, 2013 2:02pm
 The Parrot Cage in South Shore and is operated by the Washburne Culinary Institute.
Parrot Cage open for the summer
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SOUTH SHORE — While other college students are on summer break, it's business as usual for Washburne Culinary Institute students working at the Parrot Cage restaurant.

The Parrot Cage, in the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive, offers lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, dinner from 5-9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Prices range from $12-$18 for dinner and $6-$9 for lunch and brunch. Credit cards are accepted.

The eatery is the perfect place to eat on Sunday for Father's Day, said Ald. Willie Cochran (20th).

"I had salmon for lunch, and it was delicious. The service is good, and so are the menu choices," Cochran said. "Even though [Parrot Cage] is not part of my ward, I will be back."

A special brunch menu for Father's Day will include spareribs, fried catfish, turkey sausage and jerk chicken. Regular menu items include chicken, grilled skirt steak, crabcakes, burgers, fried fish tacos and pork chops. Nonalcoholic beverages are sold for $2.50.

The cultural center has a parking lot for restaurant customers, but patrons will need to feed the meters to park there.

One Washburne student, 24-year-old Bianca Viamontes, who travels daily from Albany Park to Englewood to attend classes at Washburne, credits her training at the trade school for helping her land a job recently as a chef in a casino.

"I will be graduating at the end of the summer, but I know if it were not for my training at Washburne I would not have gotten this job," Viamontes said. "When I went for my interview, the first thing they asked for was a demonstration of my cooking skills, and boy did I show them. A week later I got the job, and I love it."

Helping students start their careers is what Kennedy-King College is all about, said Joyce Ester, the school's president.

"If you look around this area, there aren't many sit-down restaurants available. The Parrot Cage is a place people can come to eat some good, healthy food in a relaxing atmosphere," Ester said.

Customers leaving the restaurant Wednesday had nothing but kind things to say about the food and service.

Charlotte Rutledge lives in Austin on the Far West Side but drove to South Shore to dine.

"Oh my God, I can't wait to tell my co-workers about this place. Everything was so good. The students were very attentive and respectful to me," said Rutledge, coordinator for education at St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham.

Wednesday was the first time Shantellas Veal, who lives in Woodlawn, stepped inside the cultural center.

"I have driven past this place a lot but never came inside to see what it looks like. It's a beautiful building with a great view of the lake," said Veal, an administrator at Heart2Heart Social Enterprise Inc., a social service organization in Woodlawn. "My boss was supposed to come to the opening, but could not make it, so I came in her place, and I am glad I did. Lunch was fabulous."

For the Rev. Mark Smith, minister of stewardship at Trinity United Church of Christ, eating at the Parrot Cage was a "blessing."

"Some people have reservations about eating food prepared by students in training, but not me," Smith said. "If God blessed them with the talent to cook and trust them, then surely I can, too."