Barbara Rolek

Chef, Food Writer, Critic, and Educator


Washburne Culinary Institute, Chicago


  • More than 15 years as an executive chef and pastry chef
  • Culinary instructor for pre-professional and professional cooks
  • Award-winning food writer and restaurant critic for the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Times of Northwest Indiana, and other publications
  • Judged the 2012 American Pie Council Crisco National Championships in Orlando, Florida


For the past 25 years, Barbara Rolek has been a food editor, food writer, and restaurant critic for daily newspapers and magazines including the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times. Barbara worked as an executive chef and pastry chef for more than 15 years at fine-dining establishments and as the commissary of a grocery store chain where she instituted the home-meal replacement program.

In addition to her writing, Barbara shares her love of cooking with students at The Cooking Academy of Chicago, Ivy Tech State College, and mentoring the Careers through Culinary Arts Program at Corliss High School in Chicago. Her teaching philosophy is to demystify culinary concepts with streamlined techniques and a user-friendly approach to cooking.


Barbara is a graduate of Chicago's Washburne Culinary Institute, one of the oldest cooking schools in the nation, where she won a scholarship from the Anheuser-Busch company and distinguished herself with outstanding performance as a student.

Awards and Publications

  • Tell Me How Long You Want to Live and I'll Tell You What to Eat to Get There (Authorhouse, 2002).
  • Barbara gives food commentary on the Chicago dining scene at Chicago Ethnic Restaurants Examiner
  • She is the winner of a 2007 Hoosier State Press Association Award for a story on the ketogenic diet in the treatment of childhood epilepsy

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