Redler Institute of Culinary Arts Preps for the Next Phase | Butler Community College

Redler Institute of Culinary Arts Preps for the Next Phase

Chefs Luis and Alicia Peña at the August 2022 Redler Institute of Culinary Arts ribbon cutting.
Chefs Luis and Alicia Peña were present for the Redler Institute of Culinary Arts ribbon cutting in August of 2022. (Photo Credit: Rodney Dimick)
Published: Monday, February 26th, 2024

Culinary couple depart institute to seek new culinary endeavors.

Butler Community College’s culinary arts school, located in Andover, is preparing for changes coming with the 2024-2025 academic year.  

The Redler Institute of Culinary Arts has been largely in the care of Chefs Luis and Alicia Peña. Recently, the culinary couple announced they will depart the institute beginning with the 2024 academic year to pursue other culinary interests. Both chefs will remain active with the Redler Institute throughout the spring and summer semesters.  

“Chef has been an important part in launching the Redler Institute since the doors opened in August 2022. There is such enthusiasm surrounding the program, and we have students trained to be outstanding chefs and industry leaders.” said Dr. Kim Krull, Butler president. “We’re all so proud of the program growth and support even beyond where we thought we’d be at this point.” 

The Peñas played critical roles in the implementation and elevation of the college’s culinary curriculum and with building the vision for the new facility in Andover.  

"It has been an amazing experience to be part of the relaunch of the Culinary Arts program, launching a new Pastry Arts degree, and the construction of the new culinary facility. Alicia and I are extremely thankful for the amazing culinary and hospitality faculty we had the honor to work with and everyone involved in making this program a success," said Chef Luis Peña. 

Dr. Peter Linden, Butler’s Dean of Career and Technical Education, joined Butler in January and oversees Butler’s Culinary and Hospitality programs. With Krull recently announcing her retirement, Dr. Linden’s arrival to Butler is fortunate timing. He is accustomed to overseeing Culinary and Hospitality Management operations and has taught Food & Beverage Cost Control, Hospitality Industry Accounting and Commercial Food Safety & Sanitation classes. In addition, as part of a learning lab experience for students, he launched Inspiration Café at Chicago State University. At Joliet Junior College, he reviewed final plans for relocating the Culinary Arts Program into the newly constructed $58 million LEED certified City Center Campus.  

“Moving Forward, Butler Community College will build upon the strong foundation created by Chef Luis as we continue to best serve our students and our community,” Linden said. 

The institute is named after Scott and Betsy Redler. Scott Redler, a 45-year veteran of the culinary industry, is co-founder and former COO of the fast-casual restaurant franchise, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers.  He is also the immediate past chair of the National Restaurant Association and continues to serve on the board of directors for Freddy’s.  

"Chef Luis and Chef Alicia have done such a wonderful job of working with students and the community as we launched our culinary institute. Betsy and I are so grateful for their direct attention to each students’ success and for teaching culinary techniques with the highest regard to detail,” said Scott Redler.  

“For us, it is all about the students. We want to see them launch their own businesses or thrive in the industry by performing their passion for outstanding cuisine. The Peñas helped set the bar for our institute. We close this chapter with gratitude and look forward to the next level of opportunity for our Redler Institute students.” 

Butler Community College has a long history of delivering culinary and hospitality education. Learning options include a one-year certificate, two-year degree, a Pastry Arts pathway, and Sous Chef and Culinarian certifications from the American Culinary Federation (ACF). The ACF certifications are possible through a partnership with Johnson County Community College. A track also exists for current high school students through the college’s Early College Academy. 

The Redler Institute houses two complete kitchens (one for culinary and one for pastry); flexible classroom, learning and event spaces; a patio and vegetable garden; and an indoor station for growing micro-greens. Students are exposed to farm-to-fork techniques, food truck operations and entrepreneurial skills. 

A national search is underway for Chef Luis’ replacement.