Our seasoned instructors and chefs are chosen to be part of our program because of their culinary expertise, sincere enthusiasm and talent for teaching. Along with great cooking ideas, our instructors share helpful nutrition advice and give you beyond-the-basic ways to incorporate your classroom experiences into your everyday cooking.
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We’re always accepting applications for cooking instructors excited to share their skills and experience.
Kausar is a chef, food stylist and cooking instructor with over 20 years of experience in South Asian culinary arts. She was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan where her mother taught her how to cook. She is the author of “The Karachi Kitchen”, a cookbook featuring classic and contemporary South Asian recipes from her childhood and motherhood. Kausar is best known for her work through Kitchen Craft, an organization she founded in 2009 that offers free nutrition and cooking workshops to women and youth in high-risk communities around Karachi, with the goal of promoting healthy eating and hygiene habits amongst impoverished families. The internationally-acclaimed entrepreneur has served as a chef, food stylist, cooking show producer and host, and culinary instructor in Pakistan and the United States.
Paola grew up in Milan in a family devoted to making good food — her parents owned a gelato store for 20 years. She spent most of her life in the kitchen cooking with mama and nonna first, and later with her children. When she moved to Seattle, she started matching local ingredients with regional Italian cooking. She travels to Italy every year and visits restaurants and trattorias looking for inspiration.
Birgitte cultivated her love of great food and food preparation as a youngster in her native Denmark. As a functional nutritional therapy practitioner, her primary focus is to restore health to the gut as the gateway to wellness and balance, accomplished with cultured and fermented superfoods. She currently offers private or group nutritional consultation, private chef services and food delivery of primarily plant-based meals.
Michelle is a registered dietitian and graduate of Bastyr University. She has her own nutrition practice in West Seattle and is the author of several cookbooks, including "Mastering Mindful Eating" released in winter of 2020. She specializes in anti-inflammatory eating, digestive wellness and sustainable weight management through mindful eating. Michelle helps people change their relationships with food and reclaim the joy of eating. She shares her food philosophy and insights on eatplaybe.com.
Lee’s passion for cooking began at an early age while helping her grandmother prepare the delicious homemade meals for their family-owned Okemo Lantern Lodge. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and has been working professionally for 20 years as a pastry chef and caterer. Most recently, she has been inspiring young chefs as a high school culinary instructor.
Matt left his school psychologist career to follow his lifelong dream of cooking professionally. A graduate of Seattle Culinary Academy, Matt worked in the kitchens of Kaspar’s, Taste and Poppy before striking out on his own with his company Sweet Bumpas. Matt’s creations have been featured in The Stranger, Seattle Met Magazine, Seattle Magazine, Seattle Weekly and the Seattle Times. In 2019, Matt shuttered his Georgetown-based ice cream business and moved back East to be closer to his family. These days, Matt is delighting dessert lovers in Durham NC with his one-of-a kind layer cakes.
Frankie grew up in San Francisco, delightfully uncovering all of the cultural cuisine the city had to offer. As a child, she and her mother created a shelter meal program, and by thirteen she had assumed her first chef role, leading a team in preparing meals for upwards of 300 homeless men and families per weekend. Professionally, she has worked with chefs including Eric Banh (Monsoon), Tom Douglas (Tom Douglas Restaurants), Zoi Antonistas (Best New Chef, Food & Wine Magazine 2015). She was the former chef de cuisine of Pair and Frank's Oyster House & Champagne Parlor in Seattle. In June 2016, she was shortlisted for Seattle Metropolitan Magazine's Next Hottest Chefs. After a two-year stint in Vancouver, B.C. where she worked on menu consulting and restaurant renovation, Frankie is back in Seattle working as a private chef as well as producing a monthly live painting competition called Seattle Art Battle.
Sarah has been in the restaurant industry for 10 years and also has experience as a personal chef, teaching cooking classes for kids and working in local farmers markets. Before becoming a mother (which she loves!) she spent time traveling through South America, Central America and Mexico where she worked in several different restaurant kitchens, including Pujol in Mexico City, including staging at Pujol in Mexico City. With a bachelor's degree of Science in Nutrition and Culinary Arts from Bastyr University and also experience with her Mexican heritage, Sarah has a love and foundation for whole foods cooking using local and seasonal ingredients while sticking to traditional methods and techniques.
Sarah, or “Farmer Sarah,” has been farming and food gardening for over 20 years. She was Garden Coordinator for Seattle Tilth’s Wallingford, Bradner and Issaquah demonstration gardens, and taught both adults and children about food growing, seeds, soil, worms and other natural magic. In 1999, she and her husband Luke Woodward were the founding farmers of Oxbow Farm, where they farmed and taught until 2015. Now you’ll find Sarah at The Grange, her farm-to-table restaurant in Duvall, or farming at Hearth Farm in Carnation.
Chef MJ has a passion for creating fun and nutritious cooking experiences that give students the skills and confidence to easily incorporate more plant-based meals and desserts into their lives. She believes there is power in the kitchen and hopes to inspire people to cook with plants, grains, beans, fruits, fermented foods and sea veggies. Her clients include those with health challenges, athletes, yogis and families wanting to prepare more nutrient-rich foods for themselves and those they love. MJ teaches public and private classes in the Seattle area and has presented plant-based food sessions at Bastyr University and Swedish Cancer Institute. She is a graduate of the Kushi Institute in Massachusetts, as well as Cornell University’s Plant-Based Nutrition Program.
Lisa has loved the kitchen for as long as she can remember. While she has experience teaching regular school subjects to kindergartners through sixth graders, as well as cooking and baking professionally, Lisa finds real delight helping people of all ages connect to food. Through her business, The Tiny Kitchen, Lisa works to empower cooks young and old to use great ingredients and transform those ingredients into meals for the whole family. Lisa is a member of the Bread Bakers Guild of America.
Rachel is the owner of Thyme to Nourish, a personal chef and food education service focused on whole foods and healthy eating. Trained at the Culinary Arts Program at The Art Institute of Seattle, Rachel spent her early years with a mom who loved to experiment with food. She also immersed herself in Southeast Asian and Indian cuisines while living in Malaysia. Today, Rachel focuses on providing good food to good people and can be found at Thyme2nourish.com.
Maribeth is a functional nutritionist, lifestyle medicine consultant, recipe developer and writer. A passionate “food as medicine” advocate, she loves researching, cooking and photographing whole foods, especially turmeric! Maribeth is a graduate of Bastyr University and the Natural Gourmet Institute for Heath and Culinary Arts. She is a faculty member at Bastyr University and is the founder of Whole Foods Explorer, an online resource for whole foods living.
Jackie Freeman has been cooking professionally in catering companies, private kitchens and restaurants for more than 20 years. She transitioned from the kitchen to the country, where she raised livestock and vegetables, and made artisan cheese on farms in Washington State. Jackie now combines her culinary and farming skills working as a recipe developer, food stylist and cooking instructor. Her first book, Easy Beans: Simple, Satisfying Recipes That Are Good For You, Your Wallet, And The Planet, will be available November 3, 2020.
Tiago graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2014. After graduation, he honed his skills as a lead sauté cook for a fine dining establishment. He has been teaching cooking classes for the last three years, and has found teaching to be one of the most gratifying experiences of his life. Tiago is also a wine enthusiast and certified sommelier.
Pranee learned to cook from her mother and grandmother in Phuket, Thailand. When she came to Seattle, she brought her mortar and pestle and began cooking for friends. She is now a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the owner of I Love Thai Cooking, where she teaches, and shares recipes and cooking wisdom. She goes to Thailand yearly to collect and preserve authentic recipes and is working on a cookbook. Pranee says, “You don’t need to visit Thailand to learn Thai cooking.”
Chef Jalissa takes pride in preparing delicious comfort food using flavors from around the world. A graduate of Johnson and Whales University, School of Culinary Arts, and Florence University of Arts, Italy, Jalissa’s southern dishes reflect her family’s favorite recipes inspired by the African Diaspora. She creates products for fellow foodies who live for delicious food and love unique culinary experiences through her company, Chef Jalissa Culinary Co. Jalissa is a private chef, caterer and instructor and is part of the Food Innovation Network's Spice Bridge Incubator Program.
Shama joined PCC after a 14-year tech career at Microsoft and a brief but wildly successful stint as food truck entrepreneur. Her truck, Roll OK Please, delighted locals with fresh paneer and kathi rolls and even received national recognition from Anthony Bourdain. Now she shares her passion for food and knowledge of regional Indian cuisine through cooking classes. Shama loves demystifying Indian culinary techniques, and showcasing the incredible diversity of dishes and flavors found in Indian cooking.
Ami is a nutritionist, founder of the Yummy Mummy Cookies company, and the author and illustrator of the children’s book, “Let’s Eat: A Book About Food.” Ami loves nourishing others through delicious meals and encouraging people to take control of their own health though food and education.
Kanako is from Akita in northern Japan. She started cooking when she was in the third grade to help her working mother. She is a personal chef, instructor and author specializing in authentic Japanese home cooking. Her passion is bringing people together and spreading joy through everyday Japanese cooking and dining. Kanako celebrates and shares the ingredients, recipes and techniques that form a cornerstone of Japanese living through classes and at KozmoKitchen.com.
Brittany-born Emma is proud of her Celtic heritage. She learned to make crêpes from her mother, who learned from hers, probably before learning to read. Half of the restaurants in Brittany are crêperies, and Emma is passionate about sharing the authenticity of Breton culture and its cuisine with others. When not cooking, Emma runs a nonprofit, TINFA.org, dedicated to empowering teachers in underserved areas of the world.
Nancy is an award-winning food writer and radio personality who learned much of what she knows about food during her first career — waiting tables. Seattle readers know her as the mouth that scored — for the better part of two decades — as restaurant critic and food columnist for the Seattle Times. When she’s not in her kitchen conjuring recipes and rejoinders shared weekly as “Food for Thought” on Seattle NPR-member station KNKX, you’ll find her prowling the aisles of PCC gathering inspiration for dinner. See what Nancy is up to at NancyLeson.com.
Pinar was born in Diyarbakir in the south eastern region of Turkey. She lived in Istanbul for 17 years before following the love of her life all the way to Seattle. As a former language teacher, she established a new teaching career in the U.S. in cooking which helped to ease her longing for her home country. She has taught Kurdish, Turkish, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking classes in and around Seattle. She has also been a chef at a Turkish restaurant and has held Turkish/Kurdish pop-ups in several restaurants. Pinar blends her Kurdish heritage with other ethnic traditions found in her Anatolian homeland. She loves to share her passion for food which originated in her mother’s kitchen and her father’s produce store.
Pastry chef Laurie encourages lively discussions with students about baking and pastry techniques, local grains and flour, and seasonal produce. She is particularly passionate about teaching not only the “how,” but the “why" of baking and pastry. Formerly the pastry chef at Salish Lodge and Spa, she also worked under Jeffrey Hamelman at the King Arthur Bakery in Vermont. Laurie graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She is the author of “Simple Fruit: Seasonal Recipes for Baking, Poaching, Sautéing, and Roasting” (2020 Sasquatch) and is the owner of Pastry Craft, a pastry instruction company.
Jennifer started her gastronomic journey attending Kendall Culinary School in Chicago in the mid 1990’s. She’s cooked professionally as a caterer, line cook and pastry apprentice, but never stopped being a “home cook.” In 2009, she created a blog as an outlet for her culinary obsessions and a place to store and share all her recipes: celerycarrotsandonions.com She hopes to inspire her students to stand lovingly over a simmering pot, wait anxiously for rising dough, marinate, brine and — most importantly — make it yourself!
Omid was born and raised in Tehran and spent his early childhood by the Caspian Sea building sandcastles, flying kites and riding his banana-seat, high-handlebar bike. He has taught cooking classes with PCC for over 15 years, cooked as a private chef and works as a psychoanalyst by day. Omid is excited to share his love of the Persian culture and traditions as he takes you on a culinary journey to experience Iran’s unique and rich cuisine through storytelling and humorous anecdotes from his childhood.
Growing up in Nigeria, Lilian spent her holidays learning how to cook traditional, labor-intensive meals with her grandma. When she moved to Seattle six years ago, Lilian realized that people had no idea what Nigerian food was, so she started creating her own products to share the flavors of Nigerian cooking with more people. Naija Buka’s mission is to introduce authentic African-Nigerian cuisine to the world, with a focus on simplicity and convenience. For Lilian, Naija Buka is not just a business — it’s her way of preserving and sharing her food heritage.
Elaine was born and raised in Hong Kong, and grew up with authentic Chinese and pan-Asian food. She has lived in Canada and the US for 30 years and traveled to 50 countries. Elaine left the corporate world after 20 years to focus on her passion for home-style cooking. She is the founder of Dash of Soy, a local Seattle culinary school that focuses on sharing the love for simple, delicious and healthy home cooking inspired by her family and all her travels.
Marianna is a pastry chef and Washington native who grew up in the central part of the state. After several years in the veterinary industry, Marianna switched careers and now teaches cooking all around the Puget Sound and as far east as Snoqualmie. Marianna focuses on technique-driven classes and loves to demystify the cooking and baking process and its associated sciences.
When it comes to cooking for his family at home, Herschell Taghap loves to pull ideas from his 10+ years of cooking experience in San Francisco and Seattle. When teaching, he likes to share his knowledge in a casual conversation format where the class directs the subject matter. As a student at the California Culinary Academy, he was impressed by how his instructors broke down complex culinary ideas into easily consumable steps that could be scribbled down onto tiny notepads. As a chef and digital manager of Tom Douglas restaurants, he tried to find beauty in the intersections between food, photography and technology. Today, he shares recipes in his column #HellaRice for Seattle Met magazine and manages social media for Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, but he loves to find time to help at friends' restaurants if they're in need.
Award-winning food and travel writer Naomi uses her unrelenting enthusiasm as an eater, photographer, and writer to propel herself around the world. Her first book, The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook, came out in November 2019, and no, she is not tired of seafood yet and will never be.
Irina grew up in Moscow, Russia. As a child, she learned to cook from her mother and grandmother, helping out in the kitchen by cranking their old-fashioned cast-iron meat grinder or stuffing piroshki. In 2016, Irina left Seattle for a more rural lifestyle in North Central Washington's Methow Valley. A nonprofit worker by day at Neighborhood House, she enjoys teaching Russian cooking classes in her free time through her business, Moscow Gourmet Kitchen. Irina's cooking blends influences from traditional Russian cuisine, the simple but hearty Soviet food of her childhood, her Ashkenazi Jewish background, her family's roots in Ukraine, and her husband's Siberian heritage.
Marilyn is a graduate of Bastyr University, where she subsequently taught for three years. She was a long-time staff member at PCC, where she created healthy recipes and shared her knowledge about vitamins, supplements, herbs and essential oils. She loves to read and has written articles for local publications. Her book on Alzheimer’s disease and brain health is available at all PCC stores.
Erica is a passionate cook and educator. She received her bachelors degree in Urban Planning at the University of Washington while working at Seattle's renowned fine-dining restaurant, Canlis as a professional cook. In 2017 she went on to co-found Seattle Cucina Cooking School. The Cucina team has grown from 2 to 19, is now in 40+ Seattle area schools, and runs more classes out of their learning kitchen. Erica is thrilled to be sharing her love of cooking and eating together with Seattle kids and families. She also enjoys spending her time with her cat, singing in a few choirs and watercolor painting.
Cam never planned to leave her career as an award-winning journalist, but a life spent cooking — and teaching others the joy of it — finally proved too irresistible. Cam received her professional culinary training from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In addition to her work at PCC, she teaches several innovative multidisciplinary cooking classes at Edmonds Heights K-12, covering everything from world folklore and history to science and environmental policy. Her food writing has appeared in publications including The Boston Globe.