I am a graduate of the LCB program at CHIC.
I wouldn't say attending CHIC was a mistake, I do regret not researching my other options before deciding to go to CHIC.
In the chicagoland... to my knowledge... the top 5 culinary institutions in the chicagoland area (in no specific order) are:
CHIC - Offers the LCB name, with a hefty price to go with it (Around $45,000). Facility is fairly dated when compared to other schools, but the instructors are definitely credible. In my opinion, the LCB name does not make much of a difference. The LCB has actually become a warning sign for some employers NOT TO hire applicants based on bad experiences they had with previous LCB students, but I guess the same could be said of any other college.www.chic.edu
Washburne Culinary Institute - Well established culinary school (Used to be #1 in the country some time ago if I recall correctly). My friend is attending school there, I have never actually seen the campus, but their website indicates that alot of renovations have been made to the kitchens, and they are to my knowledge the most affordable AAS program with tuition coming in at just over $13,000 when compared to the $40,000-$50,000 pricetag of CHIC.http://kennedyking.ccc.edu/washburne/index.html
Robert Morris College - Boasts an affordable program. I have 0 information whatsoever on this college as every attempt I have made to ask for information has gone unresponded.http://www.robertmorris.edu/culinary/
Illinois Institute of Art - I was invited for 2 free classes at this school, the kitchens seemed just as dated as CHIC and were definitely cramped. It is really interesting that the Culinary Director of IIA is the former Exec. Chef of CHIC, and alot of faculty/staff from the IIA come from CHIC and vice Versa. I recall their pricing to be somewhere in the range of CHIC, but don't take this claim for 100% truth.http://www.artinstitutes.edu/chicago...?pid=4&dtid=10
Kendall College - The big guns are saved for last. Kendall boasts a massively huge campus when compared to CHIC, the kitchens are extremely modern and up to date based on the school's partnerships with Sub-Zero, Wolf Stovetops, and other major manufacturers. Features a dedicated chocolate & sugars kitchen that is 100% marble slabbed; and a Kraft Experimental kitchen where students get to experiment with Kraft products and possibly come up with a new product for Kraft to sell. I am currently working on a BA in hospitality management from kendall, and I really really feel at home here. I believe pricing is 6,500/semester for culinary.http://www.kendall.edu/Academics/Cul...0/Default.aspx
I would be happy to answer any other questions you might have, as I am also an aspiring Chef in the Chicagoland area, and I always enjoy helping a fellow Chef-To-Be.