PCc Cooks instructors

Our seasoned instructors and chefs have been chosen to be a part of PCC Cooks because of their culinary expertise and sincere enthusiasm and talent for teaching. Along with great cooking ideas, our instructors will share helpful nutrition advice and give you beyond-the-basics ways to incorporate your classroom experiences into your everyday cooking.

Do you teach? Visit our FAQ page for information on joining the Cooks team. 

Iole Aguero credits her love affair with fine Italian cooking to the teachings of her mother in her homeland of southern Italy. After many years of refining her cooking techniques in the United States and on numerous return trips to Italy, Iole teaches her sensational Italian recipes here and in her travels. Iole has taught with PCC Cooks for over 20 years, and her recipes hold a special place of honor in the kitchens and recipe archives of returning students. 

Iole's upcoming classes

Kausar Ahmed 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.

Kausar's upcoming classes

Paola Albanesi 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.

Paola's upcoming classes

Birgitte Antonsen, N.T.P., cultivated her love of great food and food preparation as a youngster in her native Denmark.  Her primary focus is to restore health to the gut as the gateway to wellness and balance, accomplished with cultured and fermented superfoods. She teaches preparation methods of these foods in small group settings, and currently maintains an office in Edmonds. Learn more about Birgitte at NaturesWayFood.com.

Birgitte's upcoming classes

Michelle Babb is an adjunct professor at Bastyr University and has her own nutrition practices in West Seattle and Wallingford. She specializes in therapeutic, family-focused nutrition and loves getting the whole family involved in planning, creating and sharing healthy meals. Michelle teaches her patients and students the power of intuitive eating and shares her food philosophy and insights on eatplaybe.com.

Michelle's upcoming classes

Lee Baker’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.

Lee's upcoming classes

Samantha joined the PCC Cooks team of instructors after several years in the non-profit world. She brings experience in nutrition education and youth development, as well as a Master’s degree in Public Health. She is a Pacific Northwest native and enjoys the outdoors with her husband and son. When she’s not teaching, she spends time cooking and baking, going for long walks and reading. One of her favorite recipes to cook for her family is chicken enchiladas. 

Samantha's upcoming classes

Abby Canfield earned a degree in restaurant and resort management from Colorado State University. She traveled to Switzerland with other students to attend a hospitality program, and was awarded a scholarship to travel to Italy to learn about the food, wine, history and culture of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. After college, she attended the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners and received a certificate for the master program, and worked at Ristorante Magorabin in Turin. Abby returned to Seattle where she has been working at several restaurants.

Abby's upcoming classes

Sarah Cassidy, 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.

Sarah's upcoming classes

Christina Chung was born and raised in Hong Kong, where she learned to cook from her grandparents. She studied Japanese cooking in Tokyo, and French cooking at Le Cordon Bleu, Japan. She also took courses at the Culinary Institute of America and taught Chinese cooking classes. Having lived and traveled abroad for many years, she has been inspired by many different cuisines.

Christina's upcoming classes

Chef MJ Conboy 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. 

MJ's upcoming classes

Lisa Crawford has loved the kitchen for as long as she can remember. While she has experience teaching regular school subjects to K-6th 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's upcoming classes

Kory is a registered dietitian who is passionate about whole foods nutrition and mind-body health. Her philosophy focuses on using whole foods as medicine to help clients make changes over time to increase their vitality. Kory has her own nutrition practice, Wholeheart Nutrition, in Ballard and works as a Clinical Nutrition Supervisor at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health.

Kory's upcoming classes

Lizzie Diehl is a nutritionist and educator who encourages her students to approach food with joy and curiosity. Her goals in the kitchen are to delight and nourish. (To this end, she’s likely to wield some caramelized cabbage or flan). Her goals in the classroom are to help young cooks discover foods’ connections to nature and the wider world, and also to help families establish their own food traditions. 

Lizzie's upcoming classes

Michael’s approach emphasizes local, sustainably grown products prepared and presented in the best way possible. With over 30 years’ experience in the culinary world, he is a classically trained chef who enjoys sharing knowledge and conversation with others. Michael has extensive experience in the restaurant industry, having worked at many renowned restaurants in California, Idaho and Washington, including a nine-year stint as owner of his own acclaimed fine dining restaurant in the Sun Valley area. In addition to teaching, Michael provides catering services through his company Meals Per Diem. 

Michael's upcoming classes

Katie Dire is an elementary school teacher and mother of three daughters. She is passionate about including children in the cooking process as soon as they can hold a spoon. She believes that teaching kids about the food they are eating and how it is made will lead to good eating habits now and in the future.  Katie loves inspiring families to experiment and try new things in the kitchen. She bakes in her spare time, making up her own cookie recipes and encouraging her daughters to do the same.

Katie's upcoming classes

Marie Donadio has been sharing her love of cooking with adults and kids at PCC since 1997. She believes that soup and other one-pot wonders can be the soothing antidote to our busy lives, and holds that eating food prepared at home with our own hands is one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves. She enjoys helping students make cooking a little simpler, to help keep it real and happening frequently.

Marie's upcoming classes

Rachel Duboff 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 Seattle Art Institute, 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.

Rachel's upcoming classes

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.

Maribeth's upcoming classes

Seppo Farrey is a culinary instructor, personal chef and author with more than 30 years’ experience in the culinary field, and a background in exercise physiology and nutrition science. His first cookbook, “3 Bowls: Vegetarian Recipes from an American Zen Buddhist Monastery”, was a James Beard Award Finalist. He has a passion for creating and modifying recipes to accommodate food allergies, athletic training diets and other special diets.

Seppo's upcoming classes

Jackie Freeman has been cooking professionally in catering companies, private kitchens and restaurants for more than 15 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.

Jackie's upcoming classes

Devra Gartenstein is the founder of Patty Pan Cooperative, Seattle’s oldest farmers market concession. She is the author of two cookbooks, “The Accidental Vegan” and “Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes,” as well as a food history chronicle titled “Cavemen, Monks and Slow Food: A History of Eating Well.” You can find her musings online at QuirkyGourmet.com.

Devra's upcoming classes

James currently works for Lisa Dupar Catering in Redmond. He is a recent graduate of Bastyr University, receiving a Bachelor’s in the Science of Nutrition and Culinary Arts. In addition to the classroom, his cooking experience also includes private dinners, retirement homes, restaurants and large catering events. James lives by the mantra that all food can be delicious and enjoyable if prepared correctly.

James' upcoming classes

Tamara Guyton has been cooking with kids of all ages for many years in schools, housing projects and at home. She especially enjoys cooking with teenagers, who bring an enthusiasm, group spirit and honesty to the kitchen. Believing that cooking is a fun and practical way to empower kids, she teaches at after-school programs through Seattle Parks & Recreation at her neighborhood schools in the Rainier Valley. A member/owner of Patty Pan Grill Cooperative, she and other co-op members work at keeping it fresh, local and simple at farmers markets, community dinners and catering events. 

Tamara's upcoming classes

Pranee Halvorsen 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, 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.”

Pranee's upcoming classes

Courtney C. Johnson, Ph.D., ACS CCP, considers cheese a lifestyle. Online she is The PhCheese, writing a blog (www.ThePhCheese.com) about all things cheese – but especially the science, cultures, and histories that formed them. Courtney earned her doctorate in German at UC Berkeley, apprenticed as a cheesemonger, and decided to dedicate her life to cheese. She is an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional.

Courtney's upcoming classes

Ami Karnosh is a nutritionist, founder of the Yummy Mummy Cookies company and author/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. You can find her at YummyMummy Cookies.com.

Ami's upcoming classes

Kanako Koizumi 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. 

Kanako's upcoming classes

Cynthia Lair is the author of two cookbooks, “Feeding the Whole Family,” and “Feeding the Young Athlete,” and improvisational comedian. She has been on faculty at Bastyr University since 1994, and believes that education is the most effective when accompanied with humor. She puts this philosophy into practice with her online cooking show, Cookus Interruptus. 

Cynthia's upcoming classes

Brittany-born Emma Le Dû 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.

Emma's upcoming classes

Nancy Leson is an award-winning food writer and radio personality who learned much of what she know 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-affiliate KNKX, you’ll find her prowling the aisles of PCC gathering inspiration for dinner. See what Nancy is up to at NancyLeson.com.

Nancy's upcoming classes

Pinar Özhal 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, and loves to share her passion for food which originated in her mother’s kitchen and her father’s produce store. 

Pinar's upcoming classes

Lisa Palmatier has been teaching for more than 20 years, and is constantly surprised by the imagination of children and their eagerness to learn new things. Cooking whole foods and living a healthy lifestyle has always been a passion she’s enjoyed sharing with others, especially as a PCC Cooks instructor. One of her favorite pastimes is experimenting with new recipes and adding her own creative touch. 

Lisa's upcoming classes

Laurie Pfalzer encourages lively discussions with students about baking and pastry technique, seasonal produce and specialty products, and is passionate about teaching not only the “how,” but the “why” of baking and pastry. Laurie was the pastry chef at Salish Lodge and Spa for three years, worked at King Arthur Flour, where she learned artisan bread making and classic pastry techniques and at various East Coast pastry kitchens. She is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and is the chef/owner of Pastry Craft, a pastry instruction company. 

Laurie's upcoming classes

Indian-born and Midwest-raised, Sandeep now calls Kirkland her home. She recently launched a catering company, Jai Foods (named after her son) to share the Indian cooking that goes on in her home and introduce Indian flavors that go way beyond Chicken Tikka Malasa. Despite her culinary training and experience working and eating at major NYC restaurants, Sandeep will opt for her Mom’s cooking any day. That’s why her recipes include signature family dishes and common comfort food with an Indian touch. Coming soon is Sandeep’s collaboration with Buttermilk Co. as a recipe curator. When she’s not in the kitchen, she’s exploring Seattle with her son, kayaking and strolling through museums.

Sandeep Rehal

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!

Jennifer's upcoming classes

Omid Roustaei is a psychotherapist in private practice, adjunct faculty at Bastyr University and a trained chef. He 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. 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.

Omid's upcoming classes

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 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.

Marianna's upcoming classes

Thanh (that’s John with a T) always loved to be in the kitchen and aspired to be a teacher since the age of 5. After earning a B.A. from UW as a Drama major, Thanh decided that his heart belonged in the culinary world. A 2009 graduate of Seattle Culinary Academy, and Star Chef Management in Hong Kong, Thanh believes that cooking should be fun and stress-free. His philosophy is you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you came from. Hence, a strong understanding of cultures and techniques associated with a recipe is the secret foundation of any great cook.

Thanh's upcoming classes

Holly draws her cooking knowledge from her studies and the places she has lived, from British Columbia, to Montréal, France, Switzerland, New York City, and now Seattle. She recently completed a Master’s degree in Agricultural Science, complementing her Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition. Her love of cider runs deep: she has been on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Cider Association for two years, and was a lead volunteer for Washington Cider Week 2018. She is also very proud of having written a series of articles featuring women leaders in the cider industry, in addition to many other published food articles. She has been writing about food, nutrition and sustainability for over 13 years.

Holly's upcoming classes

Kim Trimmer began her cooking career at age of four with her Easy Bake oven and then became a “real” cook through the Reddy Kilowatt baking school at age seven. As an elementary school counselor, yoga teacher and instructor for PCC Cooks, Kim has been fortunate to know many amazing children. She is thrilled by the opportunity to share cooking adventures with the creative and fun children of the Pacific Northwest.

Kim's upcoming classes

Marilyn Walls is a graduate of Bastyr University, where she subsequently taught for three years. She was a long-time staffer 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. 

Marilyn's upcoming classes

Cat’s experience includes 20 years of bartending and over 12 years managing bars. She has trained bartenders as well as servers on the finer art of bartending. She is a member of the United States Bartenders Guild and has obtained her Barsmarts certificate to further her education on different spirits, bar managing and classic cocktails. Cat loves to chat about spirits and teach people how to make cocktails. She hopes to bring inspiration to her students so they may feel more comfortable when approaching cocktails. You can find Cat in the beer and wine department at Issaquah PCC.

Cat's Upcoming classes

Cam Zarcone received her professional culinary training at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Cambridge, Mass. She has worked in bakeries and written about food for The Boston Globe. Her favorite kinds of science experiments are the ones you can eat, and lately, the veteran home school mom has been busy leading kids in explorations of cooking and science in classes throughout greater Seattle. 

Cam's upcoming classes