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 grew up in a small farming community in southern, Il with a population of 5,000 in the heart of the corn belt. Raised on garden produce for most of her life, moving to Chicago lead her to the farmers markets in search of a fresh tomato off the vine. In 2000, she was introduced Green City Market where founder Abby Mandel promised produce fresh from local farms and she found her fresh tomato at last! After serving for 10 years on the Green City Market board, she accepted the Executive Director's position in 2010.
Dana has involved with many local culinary organizations and has served on the founding board of Slow Food Chicago, Chef Advisory Board of Common threads and the board of Les Dames de’ Escoffier.
In addition to chicagocooks.com, Dana also writes the "Cooking Fresh Column" for Edible Chicago Magazine.