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.
DO YOU TEACH?
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.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Winnie inherited her love of food and cooking from her father, a food adventurer. Her passion for sharing culinary knowledge led her to earn an Education and Home Economics degree and become a secondary school teacher.
After moving to the U.S., she continued teaching at culinary schools, specializing in Asian cuisine and pastry arts. A lifelong learner, she has completed several baking and cake decoration programs and has international instructor qualifications for cake decoration and handcrafts in the U.S., Canada, and Hong Kong.
Winnie loves challenging herself and has participated in international cake competitions, winning “Best in Show” awards. The best part of participating in these events was meeting talented peers, developing friendships, and having the opportunity to share culinary and artistic passions. As an instructor, Winnie loves to share this knowledge and stories with all of her students.
Shawna is a former cook and baker, turned homeschool mom. After graduating culinary school, Shawna worked in several of Seattle's most acclaimed restaurants where she honed her culinary skills and developed a passion for Northern Italian cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisine, baking and pastry. These days, Shawna utilizes those professional skills in her home kitchen where she makes everything from butter to fermented foods, to multi-layer cakes and elaborate dinners. In the classroom Shawna looks forward to sharing her experience and knowledge to inspire the next generation of young chefs and bakers!
Laurence grew up in Chantilly close to Paris with a family of food lovers. As a child, she spent time discovering the flavors of the local farmers markets where her parents were merchants. After more than 20 years in the telco business, she changed career paths to become a pastry chef. As a student at the Ateliers des Sens in Paris, she has been coached by world class teachers from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts in Paris. Laurence graduated with a French Pastry Chef professional certificate and shares her passion by teaching classes to students of all ages. Laurence loves revisiting traditional French pastries by updating them with spices and fresh herbs.
Lisa has loved the kitchen for as long as she can remember. While she has experience teaching school subjects to elementary students, as well as cooking and baking professionally, Lisa finds real delight helping people of all ages connect to food, empowering them to transform great ingredients into deliciousness for the whole family. When she’s not teaching, Lisa is busy bringing sourdough bread and other pastries, all made from locally-grown, locally-milled flours, to area Farmer’s Markets. Lisa is a member of the Bread Bakers Guild of America.
Christa Demment González has taught and cooked in different roles around California, Maine, South Carolina and the Caribbean. With a Master’s degree in Nutrition from Bastyr San Diego and over 15 years of experience cooking in unique and challenging environments, she finds new ways to translate nutrition science into simple, mouth-watering recipes. She shares her nutrition knowledge through culinary medicine courses for healthcare professionals. Her enthusiasm encourages warm kitchen conversation and empowers participants to build their culinary confidence and recipe toolkit while exploring flavors and foods from around the world.
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.
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 began teaching culinary classes in 2017 and has found teaching to be one of the most gratifying experiences of his life. In 2022 Tiago spent a year teaching culinary and baking for Seattle Public Schools. Tiago is also a wine enthusiast and certified sommelier. Tiago likes to teach classes that focus on his Brazilian, Portuguese and New York roots, along with his education in French cuisine.
Darin Gagner began his culinary adventure more than two decades ago as a way to get out of a small town in Eastern Washington and into the city. Seeking out as many experiences as possible and moving from coast to coast, he worked at lobster shacks, pizza joints, fine dining restaurants, and landmark hotels. Not a born teacher or cook, he
was lucky enough to work with outstanding chefs that helped him become both.
Darin is a full-time chef and owner of Valley Sharp Knife Sharpening. He lives in Cle Elum with his wife and sons. When he is not in the kitchen or his shop (which is rare) he’s in the woods or by a lake enjoying fresh air and craft beer.
Zola was born and raised in Seattle by a family that loves to cook, and though she has worked professionally as a pastry chef and baker, her real passion is her role as a home cook. Zola’s cooking classes emphasize getting comfortable in the kitchen through technique, a little bit of food science, and, most importantly, a sense of humor. In addition to her cooking classes, Zola contributes recipes and writing to Food52 and writes a monthly recipe column for the online publication, TASTE.
Jane Hall is passionate about the home economy of cooking and baking, sustainable practices in the kitchen, health, wellness and delicious things for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She began working in the food industry at age 13 in a bakery and never looked back. After many years in bakeries and cafes, both front and back of house, she worked as a chef for a small software company. Having successfully raised her child on kale and goat cheese she is full of the desire to help others be creative in the kitchen while being mindful of the budget. In addition to teaching, Jane spends part of her time working at FareStart.
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.”
Jorden is a French-trained chef, passionate about bringing people together around really good food. Inspired by his family’s Creole roots, his great-grandma’s legacy as a restaurant owner, and the life experiences he’s gained from traveling, Chef Jorden specializes in making fine dining approachable and accessible. His methodology in the kitchen centers on the freshness of his ingredients, relying on his ability to bring out the bold flavors of seasonal produce, herbs and meats and high quality kitchen staples. Chef Jorden started his career cooking in various top restaurants throughout Seattle, and is now bringing his unique culinary voice to even more people through his catering company.
Michelle is a culinary enthusiast proudly rooted in her hometown of Seattle. Inspired by the vibrant community and diverse ingredients of the city, Michelle embarked on a culinary journey that began in restaurants and evolved into freelance recipe development and culinary production. She collaborates with restaurants and companies, weaving cohesive and vibrant menus, as well as crafting engaging food content for social media. Most recently, Michelle has been creating instructional recipe videos online. She is now thrilled to share her expertise and passion in-person.
In her leisure time, Michelle channels her culinary creativity into crafting canned goods, making chocolates, catering small events and hosting her friends for dinner. Join Michelle in her classes where she turns everyday ingredients into delightful, memorable meals.
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.
Joanna Lepore Dwyer is a chocolate maker, pastry chef, and artist. She is passionate about creating culinary experiences to encourage connections between individuals and where their food comes from! She holds a certificate in sensory science from The Institute of Food Technologists, a BFA in Sculpture, and 20+ years’ experience in fine pastry, chocolate making, and culinary training in NYC and Seattle including a 10-year stint at Theo Chocolate as head of Product Development.
When she is not helping national chocolate brands develop new products and training QC teams in sensory science, she works with a colleague under the moniker A Matter of Taste to incorporate culinary experiences into Corporate and Non-Profit professional development agendas.
Nancy Leson thinks cooking is fun and easy, and she’s here to prove it to you. The Seattle-based food writer and radio personality has been cooking since she was a kid and learned much of what she knows about food during her first career, waiting tables at some of the country’s finest restaurants. Nancy is a longtime Seattle food writer and radio personality. These days, when she’s not busy in her favorite room in the house, her kitchen, you’ll find her teaching cooking classes, hosting food tours, and Goodwill-hunting for cookbooks and kitchenware. She is also helping to end hunger, one loaf at a time, as a neighborhood-coordinator for the non-profit baking brigade Community Loaves (ask her about it!). Find Nancy at www.nancyleson.com.
Pastry chef Nico Caballero has cooked and baked his way through 5 states and 4 countries, include staging at a bakery in France. He graduated with a BA in Music Composition from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, and while he still loves to make music, food is a deep passion for him. He believes a large part of cooking is sharing the cultural experience of food with those around you, and making it an interactive experience is the best way to learn and have fun!
Vindi received her certificate III from the William Angliss Institute of Melbourne. Since then, she has worked as a baker and pastry chef in several bakeries both in Melbourne and Seattle. Vindi believes learning never stops and that everyone has room to grow. This is why she likes to share her knowledge and skills with others. Also, food always tastes better when shared! Vindi is also active online, sharing her bakes on her blog, providing detailed instructions to help others achieve tasty results. Learn more about Vindi on Instagram at @vindiskitchen.
Brandon Rouge is a local Seattle-born chef who is passionate about cooking healthy and delicious plant-based foods. Having struggled with his own personal health issues and dietary restrictions over the past two decades, Chef Rouge seeks to help people heal themselves while enjoying good food. He specializes in making allergen-friendly plant based versions of traditional comfort foods using whole food ingredients. In addition to cooking, Rouge is an avid Qi Gong Enthusiast, Meditation Practitioner, and Puppy Whisperer.
Chef Kat got her start in her parents' Mediterranean restaurant while in high school. Kat then attended California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, followed by a 3-month internship in Dublin, Ireland. From there her 20+ year career spans fine dining, large scale catering events, and being a private chef. When the youngest of her children developed serious food allergies her culinary focus shifted and she’s now a master at adapting recipes to exclude common allergens. When she's not cooking, you can find her in her garden, baking or at a local yoga class.
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.
Chocolatier and Pastry Chef Amanda Snouffer has more than 20 years of experience in chocolate, baking and pastry. She has worked and taught with some of the world's most talented and respected chefs, as well as managing large artisan chocolate production in San Francisco and Seattle. She loves teaching and sharing her passions with others. She also teaches ceramics and enjoys combining the fine arts with culinary arts.
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.
Deborah Tuggle didn't plan to open a bakery. As a single mother, she desired to get an education that would allow her a job with the security she craved to take care of her young son, so she enrolled in college. To help her make ends meet, she started selling cookies to her classmates. The cookies were so popular that she started selling them every Friday. After college, Deb tried the corporate world and decided it was not for her. She had an entrepreneurial spirit and knew how successful her cookies were at school, so she decided to go all in on start her own business. Without looking back, she opened her first bakery in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood on MLK Jr. Way, and aptly named it “Friday’s Cookies”.
Deb soon sought a mentor in the cookie business and became quick friends with the owners of Bite Me Cookies. She later purchased the company and merged her two brands under one cookie roof, Bite Me, Inc. Today, Bite Me is a wholesale bakery, producing cookies under the Bite Me, Friday’s, and Bite Free brands. Bite Me products can be found in high-end grocery stores as well as coffee shops, gift companies and other retailers. Bite Me also produces private label cookies and is a third-party manufacturer for many bakery items sold throughout the country.
As a board member for Culinary Arts at Clover Park Technical College and WorkForce Central, Deb stays actively involved in the local community to help support the next generation and help ensure economic vitality across the region. Deb believes in empowering women and immigrants through job creation and skill development, this is what drives her to make cookies that make jobs that change lives.
Professional Chef with excellent communication skills and over 30 years of experience in creative gourmet food preparation - with emphasis on health and sustainability that bring together global flavors and modern food trends.
Chef Carol received a BS at the University of Illinois in Hotel Restaurant Management, an Associates in Culinary Arts at the Culinary Institute of America-NY, and a Masters in Hospitality and Tourism Management at Roosevelt University.
After working for various restaurant groups in Chicago, she went on to teach Culinary Arts at the Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago for 12 years as an Associate Professor. Carol and her partner moved to Seattle in 2016 to run a program teaching engineers to cook for a tech company.
Carol enjoys the outdoors and when the weather permits, you'll find her on the hiking trails and camping whenever possible. She is always thinking about what her next meal is and loves to cook for family and friends.
Eleni was born and raised in Ethiopia. After moving to the United states in 2001, she worked in accounting for a few years. After her first son was born Eleni found herself at home with a lot of time to recreate the kind of dishes she enjoyed growing up in Ethiopia. This time cooking inspired her to begin sharing those dishes with others, and she established her Ethiopian food business, Eleni’s Kitchen. Eleni’s kitchen has been catering traditional Ethiopian food in Portland, OR for the last eight years. Eleni also teaches Ethiopian cooking classes at Portland Community College.
After cooking in Michelin Star restaurants and high volume catering events, I made a "temporary" switch to teaching cooking classes. However, the satisfaction and unique experience I received from teaching convinced me that this was my new culinary path. I am a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu, where I mainly focused on French and Western technique, but I have deep roots in Middle-Eastern cuisine and an enthusiastic, developed passion for Japanese cuisine. In my travels I seek out to learn something new, and for me, the more specific and obscure, the better. My interests and abilities continue to range out further, as long as I can do it, I will teach it.