Eli's Cheesecake World in Chicago, IL
The following is a tour from our book Watch It Made in the U.S.A.
Eli's Cheesecake World CHEESECAKE
6701 West Forest Preserve Drive, Chicago, IL 60634 (773)736-3417

Eli’s Cheesecake is no longer offering bakery tours

Eli's Cheesecake factory tour

After its public debut at the Taste of Chicago in 1980, Eli's Cheesecake has become a sweet symbol of success for the Windy City. Eli Schulman, a guy from the “West Side of Chicago,” created a special dessert for his restaurant, Eli's The Place for Steak. His son Marc continues Eli's level of dedication and commitment to making the best quality cheesecake.

Before starting your tour, notice the mural highlighting Eli's Cheesecake's history. In the back of this bright, atrium café, look through the glass window into the research and development department. This 62,000-square-foot bakery, built in 1996, uses more than 4 million pounds of cream cheese, 500,000 pounds of eggs, 250,000 pounds of butter, and 13,000 pounds of Bourbon vanilla annually.

After donning your hair net, walk through the double doors. Racks filled with all-butter cookie crusts baked twice the previous night await today's production. In the mixing area, a crane system lifts up and tilts the mixing bowl, which contains 500 pounds of batter for each batch of cheesecake. A big spatula with a black plastic paddle fills each crust. Up to 18,000 cheesecakes march along the conveyor through the 70-foot tunnel oven. Stand on the royal blue nonskid path observing rows 10 cheesecakes wide emerge.

After baking, the cheesecakes take a leisurely two-hour journey spiraling up and back down a two-story cylindrical cooling tower. This densely coiled spiral cooler slowly cools more than 2,000 cheesecakes at one time. Cheesecakes travel single-file down the conveyor belt and are depanned individually by hand.

In the blast freezer, cakes freeze solid in eight to ten hours. More than 30 trained pastry chefs and cake decorators hand-decorate some two-thirds of Eli's cheesecakes. Decorating a cheesecake involves great teamwork, taking up to three different steps. After decorating, cheesecakes are sliced, packaged, and shipped.

Eli’s Cheesecake is no longer offering bakery tours

Directions: From I-90/94 West, take Montrose St. Turn left. At light, turn left just before factory onto Forest Preserve Dr. Turn right into parking lot.
Nearby Attractions: Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange tours (see page 149 and 150); Chicago's attractions include Sears Tower, Shedd Aquarium, and Lincoln Park Zoo.

Eli's Cheesecake factory tour
All of Eli's Cheesecakes are decorated by hand by trained pastry artists.

Eli's Cheesecake factory tour
Eli's Cheesecakes are slowly baked to a golden brown in a 70-foot-long and 12-foot-wide tunnel oven.