Pilot Light Job Description

Role: Culinary Director

About Pilot Light

Pilot Light is a Chicago-based nonprofit founded in 2010 by Chefs Paul Kahan, Matthias, Merges, Jason Hammel and Ryan Poli that is dedicated to teaching children how to make healthier choices for themselves, their families and their communities by connecting the lessons they learn in their classrooms to the foods they eat on their lunch trays. To accomplish this mission, Pilot Light partners chefs and teachers in its Institute for Food Education to make learning about food in schools a priority for children through food-based classroom curriculum in everyday subjects like math and science, or lunchroom takeovers, where chefs design and serve a fresh, locally-sourced lunch paired with healthy classroom lessons. These experiences feed young minds by igniting children’s curiosity for the food on their plates and demonstrating its connection to every aspect of what they do and learn.


The Culinary Director is a new, full-time position offered by Pilot Light.  The Director will collaborate with Pilot Light Staff to develop the role of the Chef in Pilot Light’s school and community-based programming, organizing existing chef volunteers and recruiting new chef volunteers to meet programmatic needs. The Culinary Director will also be charged with food preparation to support our Institute, classroom, and community-based educational activities, as well as supporting fundraising events as needed. The successful candidate will have experience in the culinary arts, events, and strategic planning, and operations. This individual will also have an interest in working with communities to support student learning and growth.
This position requires a high level of flexibility, attention to detail, strategic and creative thinking, and a high level of exemplary organizational and communication skills. Candidates must also have a strong desire to work in an environment that require he/she participate in an array of projects and tasks. The Director will report to Pilot Light’s Executive Director and work closely with Pilot Light’s Board of Directors, staff, and partners.

The Culinary Director will:

  • Partner with chefs, Pilot Light’s staff and Board members to develop the role of the chef in Pilot Light’s school and community programming.
  • Partner with Pilot Light’s marketing and programming teams to develop a strategy for chef recruitment and engagement, prioritizing communities served by Pilot Light programming.
  • Create an intake and placement system for volunteer chefs.
  • Develop a donation allocation system for Pilot Light programming.
  • Manage the volunteer chef experience and ensure consistent communication regarding Pilot Light activities and engagement opportunities.
  • Develop training programs for volunteer chefs, as needed.
  • Support Pilot Light teachers by pairing them with chefs who can support lesson implementation and classroom-based demonstrations.
  • Coordinate Pilot Light school and community events and food advocacy activities.
  • Deliver Pilot Light classroom lessons, as needed.
  • Support curriculum and recipe development for teachers, students, and families in the Pilot Light program.
  • Partner with programming staff to develop and implement internal systems and procedures to ensure effectiveness, consistency, and quality of lesson delivery and programming.
  • Coordinate and support deliverables regarding chef activities to corporate sponsors and funding agencies.
  • Support the coordination of Pilot Light fundraising events and auction items.
  • Prepare food for Pilot Light fundraising events and Institute sessions, as needed.
  • Counsel the Pilot Light Board and Executive Director regarding additional programming needs and make strategy recommendations, as needed, to support growth and expansion of the program.


  • 5+ years experience in the culinary arts
    • Possession of knife skills and basic culinary technique
  • Demonstrated culinary background and knowledge
  • Passion for Pilot Light’s mission
  • Flexible to work night or weekend hours if necessary
  • Dynamic presenter and capable of engaging large groups of people
  • Strong leadership, problem-solving, project management and time management skills
  • Excellent interpersonal and networking skills with proven ability to develop and maintain effective relationships
  • Ability to work independently and with a team; ability to foster teamwork and a collaborative environment
  • Ability to articulate ideas in a group setting
  • Self-starter with strong work ethic and track record of success
  • Able to travel locally, as necessary
  • Demonstrated project management abilities
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Experience coordinating events
  • High level of organization and attention to detail
  • Experience with volunteer management, education, or working in schools and communities is preferred.
  • Fluency with Microsoft Office Suite and Google tools
  • Experience with Salesforce, Mailchimp, and graphic design is a plus.
  • Must be able to lift 25-50 lbs.

Location:  The Director will report to our office in Chicago.

Position Type: Full-time. Pay competitive and commensurate with experience.   

Start Date: Position currently available.

How to apply:

Interested applicants should email a cover letter and resume to info@pilotlightchefs.org and include the position title in the subject line.


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