Established in 1937, Washburne Culinary Institute can officially be declared the oldest culinary school in the United States at seventy-five years old.  Washburne’s name originated in remembrance of an Illinois Congressman (Elihu Benjamin Washburne, 1887).  What was once an elementary school was transformed into a trade school sponsored by unions training high school age students for various vocational careers including culinary and baking.

Washburne Trade and Continuance school outgrew its original elementary school location and relocated in 1934, and again in 1958.  In 1994 Washburne re-opened under the City Colleges of Chicago system, moving once again in 1996 to the South Shore Cultural Center, where to this day classes are still being taught. But once again a larger but brand new facility was built in 2007, at Kennedy-King College campus, to handle the expanding A.A.S. Culinary and Baking certificate programs.

Washburne Culinary Institute now includes facilities at Kennedy-King College and South Shore Cultural Center, the Parrot Cage and Sikia restaurants, and the Fountain Cafe near Buckingham Fountain.