On May 29, the Illinois Senate passed the “Sip and Spit” bill, which will allow hospitality and culinary students over the age of 18 to legally taste alcoholic beverages in the classroom, as long as they spit the drink out after tasting.

Kendall College President Emily Williams Knight has been heavily involved in the legislation process, testifying before the House and Senate committee on the benefits of the proposed bill. With the passage of this bill, Illinois hospitality and culinary students will now have the advantage of being better prepared for a variety of food and beverage careers.

“This Academic Sip and Spit legislation—which I expect the governor to sign into law this summer—will create many jobs in the culinary and hospitality industry across the state,” says Senator Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, the chief sponsor. “The new law will make Kendall College and other Illinois schools with culinary and hospitality programs more competitive with other states.”

Under the bill, Illinois hospitality and culinary students will be allowed to examine the color, clarity, aroma, and taste of alcoholic beverages under the supervision of an instructor. As the No. 1 ranked program in Chicago for preparing students for culinary and hospitality-management careers by Chicago’s leading hotels and Michelin Guide Restaurants, Knight has been a strong proponent for the bill.

Adding tasting training will improve the learning experience and give students a better understanding of how to cook with wine and spirits and best pair foods and beverages.

“At Kendall College, we strive to have our students be leaders within the professional career path they pursue,” Knight says. “The only way we can provide them with a comprehensive educational experience is through proper training, including alcoholic-beverage training within our culinary and hospitality courses.

“With the mayor aiming to drastically increase Chicago tourism within the next few years, it is essential that Illinois’ graduates are informed and qualified with skills to make them competitive once they enter the workforce.”

The House sponsor, Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, says students wanting to be sommeliers were leaving Illinois before this law passed.

“At a time when our economy is starving for jobs, I applaud Kendall College for trying to make our state more competitive,” Lang says. “Kendall's excellent culinary program is the top in Chicago and proposals like this legislation are innovative and can help our students and the beverage industry.”

This bill will be applicable to courses in Kendall’s Schools of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management.

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