Dana Benigno graduated from the Southern Illinois University in 1988 with a B.S. in Journalism and marketing. In her mid twenties, she moved to Chicago and discovered a passion for all things related to food, wine and culture. In 1998, she decided to pursue formal culinary training and graduated in 1999 from The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, a Le Cordon Bleu affiliate and launched her own culinary website Chicagocooks.com in 2000 and was a popular cooking instructor at Sur La Table. Her work teaching home cooking enthusiasts lead to recipe development, recipe testing for cookbooks and food writing.
Dana is involved with many local culinary organizations and has served on the board of Slow Food Chicago, Les Dames de’ Escoffier and is currently the Marketing Co-Chair of Chicago’s Green City Market, a local sustainable farmers market. While working with these organizations Dana planned and produced fundraising events, created marketing strategy and business plans, assisted in developing a children’s gardening cooking curriculum, as well as website facilitation and development.
In addition to chicagocooks.com, Dana is also a co-owner of Sweet Girl Desserts, a line of fair trade, organic dessert mixes available nationally at Crate and Barrel and local gourmet food stores in Chicago. Dana also writes the "Cooking Fresh Column" for Edible Chicago Magazine.