What is a Culinista® chef?
Someone who expresses love and community by way of providing exemplary meals and service, bringing people together through food.
Our Culinista® chefs have stellar credentials. They have trained at top culinary schools and honed their skills at many esteemed restaurants and collectives. They have worked in some of the finest epicurean establishments in the world beneath some of the world's most celebrated chefs.
Our Culinista® chefs have worked and trained at:
- Babbo Ristorante and Enoteca
- Pierre Hermé
- Food Network
- Perry St
- Jean Georges
- The Tasting Room
- Frasca Food and Wine
- Eleven Madison Park
- Gramercy Tavern
- Starwood Hotels and Resorts
- Wolfgang Puck
- Murray's Cheese
- ABC's The Chew
- Pure Food & Wine
- Spice Market
- il Buco
- ABC Kitchen and Cocina
- Dickson's Farmstand Meats
- Food & Wine
- Good Housekeeping
- Cook's Illustrated Magazine
- The Culinary Institute of America
- The International Culinary Center
- New School of Cooking
- The Institute of Culinary Education
- National Gourmet Institute
- The International Culinary Schools of the Art Institutes
- Cornell University School of Hotel Administration
- Le Cordon Bleu
- Blue Hill
- Martha Stewart
Meet our Culinista® chefs...
Sarah Barberio | NYC
Sarah began cooking with her mom at a very young age, learning dishes from her Lebanese and Italian background. For 8 years, Sarah cooked under chef Andrew Carmellini at his restaurants Locanda Verde, The Dutch and Lafayette Grand Cafe and Bakery. After having her first child, Sarah decided to take a step back from the restaurant life. With a Bachelors degree in Nutrition as well as many years of experience in fine dining Vegan, Italian, American, French restaurants (and feeding a picky toddler), Sarah is well versed in a wide variety of cuisines.
Jacqui Errigo | LA
Born and raised in Montana, Jacqui grew up eating steak and potatoes five nights a week, and chicken the other two. She had goats and horses and raised lambs in 4H to be auctioned at the county fair. It wasn't until after college- when she learned about the health benefits of a plant-based diet that she began cooking and focused on health supportive meals sans animal products. She moved to NYC and attended Natural Gourmet Institute where she was able to hone and further develop her new-found cooking techniques. After culinary school, Jacqui worked under Chef Michael Anthony and Chef Suzanne Cupps at Untitled at The Whitney Museum in The Meatpacking District NYC and began cooking for private clients. She also worked alongside the nutritionist at AKT InMotion NYC preparing plant based seasonal weeklong cleanses for their clients. Most recently, she has worked at a resort in Maine as a pastry chef and is constantly experimenting with vegan and gluten free baking alternatives. Jacqui is passionate about cooking delicious, nourishing, plant based meals-often using umami rich asian flavors (She lived in Japan for 4 years as a child!) but loves to throw in an occasional organic goat cheese garnish or sustainably sourced bison steak for variety and balance.
Carol Ann Ransaw | NYC
Born in Washington and raised in Canada, Carol Ann developed her cooking skills at a young age, growing up as a vegetarian in the days when it was not so popular. She went to the farmers market every Saturday with her family to select fresh produce for the week. In 2008 she moved to Italy for five years to study Italian cuisine through private lessons and courses at Gambero Rosso, a famous Italian cooking school. She returned to NYC and began her career working as a private chef. Carol Ann's style of cooking is very clean; she prefers to cook from scratch. She loves smoothies and juices with fresh fruits and vegetable and herbs. She also has experience with front of house (wait service) as well as knowledge of wines. She thrives in the home atmosphere, balancing health, positive eating habits, and beautiful presentation.
Chase Elder | LA
Chase was fortunate enough to have her earliest impressions of food coming straight from her grandparent's garden; always fresh, seasonal, and delicious. She worked her way through some well know restaurants in NYC such as: Vinegar Hill House, Employees Only, and Degustation. Her longest residency was at Macao Trading Co. where she became the Executive Chef and explored cooking with exotic flavors of China and Portugal. Recently, Chase has relocated to Los Angeles and works at the innovate vegan and plant centric restaurant, The Springs, where she has added plant-based menu prep to her skill set. Chase's intention is to prepare food with the clients well being in mind with the start of every dish. She likes to make meals that make you feel good, with exciting seasonal produce, lots of poppy flavors, and consciousness to the sustainability of the product.
Matthew Gurman | NYC
Originally from Forest Hills, Queens, Chef Matt grew up cooking delicious food for his family every night. He went to the Culinary Institute of America where he graduated with an Associate's Degree. Matt has cooked at some of the best restaurants in NYC such as Aureole, Gordon Ramsay, and Betony. For the past three years, Matt has cooked as a private chef, cooking in Southampton and New York City. He gets his inspiration from the seasons, and from his travels. Every year, he loves to travel to South America to eat new ingredients, go hiking, and experience new cultures.
Laura Bellinger | LA
Following a career in entertainment PR, Laura decided to follow her passion and pursue a lifelong dream of cooking professionally. Growing up in Southern California, she learned to love food and cooking with her family creating nightly dinners from locally sourced, organic, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. She completed the professional program at the New School of Cooking in Los Angeles and began working as a personal chef for a number of families, celebrities and high profile clients in the Los Angeles area. Over the past 6 years, Laura has developed a resume as a personal chef, caterer, recipe tester and recipe developer. She enjoys cooking family, farm-to-table style meals and is familiar in a wide range of culinary styles including French, Mediterranean, Italian, Mexican and Asian cuisines.
Joshua Kaufman | NYC
Josh is a native New Yorker hailing from Long Island. He grew up with classic American, Jewish & Italian cuisines, but at the age of 10 he tried sushi for the first time & his passion for discovering new foods was born! Following a career in musical theatre and years of being a home cook, he decided to pursue a culinary degree from The International Culinary Center in NYC where he graduated top of his class. He held restaurant jobs at Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in the pastry department as well as Colicchio & Sons where he worked his way around several kitchen positions. He found his true passion in private chef work, focusing on healthfully driven seasonal cooking with bold bright flavors. His weekly visits to the local butcher shop, fishmonger & farmer’s market provide inspiration for the dishes he conceives.
Shani Frymer | NYC
A student of the International Culinary Center, and veteran of The Dutch in NYC, Shani is classically trained in French technique, groomed by her time in eclectic American restaurants, and influenced by international travel. She hops comfortably in and out of a wide variety of cuisines. She enjoys coaxing flavors with the use of spices, herbs, and old school techniques. Finding inspiration in her middle eastern roots, she embraces freshness, insisting on only working with the best ingredients and has picked up pastry skills in addition to her refined savory cooking abilities. She appreciates the conviviality of food, the way it brings people together and hosts private dinner parties for friends and family. Her heroes include Dan Barber, Michael Solomonov, and Jason Hua.
Leslie Pollock | LA
living in Tokyo,) and along the way, collected dishes, flavors and ideas that influenced my palate as well as my style of cooking. She loves to cook farmer’s market-based healthy organic California cuisine and therapeutic foods with a humble Japanese origin. Though largely self-taught as a chef, she completed the Professional Cooking Certification from New School of Cooking. She has also attended cooking classes in Bali, Japan, Peru and Brazil.
Elena Apostolides | NYC
Elena attended the International Culinary Center (formerly French Culinary Institute/Italian Culinary Academy) where she spent several months in Italy learning Italian cuisine and culture. After graduation, she spent five years working in various restaurants throughout the New York City, including a cheese and wine bar in the West Village where she managed the kitchen. She has worked in the Hamptons as a private chef/catering chef for a small catering company and enjoyed the private dinners she cooked for clients since it made food very personal again. Her main focus is trying to use local ingredients whenever possible no matter what cuisine. Elena specializes in making housemade pasta and gelato after her training in Italy as well as food from her Greek and Cypriot heritage, but is passionate about cooking all types of cuisines, including desserts.
Rich Okamoto | NYC
Rich began cooking the way most of us do: by helping his mother in the kitchen. What started with Japanese home food became a lifelong love of cooking and eating. After graduating college, he began working for some of New York's top kitchens: Momofuku Noodle Bar, North End Grill, ABC Kitchen and Cocina, Upland... all the while honing his technique while learning how to make food taste the way he wanted: comfortable, familiar, but ultimately inimitable. He loves to cook with bold, clean flavors and lots of citrus and fresh herbs. He draws from a global pantry - from soy sauce to fish sauce to anchovies to ancho chilies - all to make the tastiest food possible.
Allyx Seeman | NYC
After a six-year stint with interior design, Allyx found herself designing the restaurants she wished she could once own. With opportunities to work closely with the best chefs in the world on a regular basis, she decided to stop spending all of her free time blogging, throwing dinner parties, and recipe developing, and take steps towards pursuing her passion for cooking. Allyx attended an accelerated program at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) where she graduated top of her class and received runner up in her first culinary competition. Prior to graduation, she was offered an incredible opportunity as a line cook at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s three Michelin star restaurant in New York, Jean-Georges, and has been refining her skills there since. With her unique and creatively driven background, Allyx finds herself constantly experimenting with unique and bold flavor profiles. Full utilization of products, seasonality, and locally-sourcing are critical to her cooking. With a culinary background in French-Asian fusion and a personal interest in farm to table, there are no rules with her cooking, only ingenuity!
Amelia Arend | NYC
Amelia was born in New York City to food enthusiastic parents who adored New York's restaurants and instilled in her an appreciation for all things culinary. After they moved to the suburbs, in a home in between a horse farm and a corn field, Amelia learned to love the outdoors and became active in helping her mother cultivate an impressive home garden. Amelia attended Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI where she studied culinary arts. Her most recent endeavor was working in the test kitchen for Saveur Magazine. She continues to be an avid home-gardener and is passionate about the farm-to-table movement, as is reflected in her food which takes inspiration from Asian and Latin flavors.
Alissa Hernandez | NYC
Alissa grew up in the kitchen under her mother's wing, where she learned to love food and all of its meanings. The flavors of her childhood were mostly soulful Middle Eastern and bold Latin ones. Dinner was always a must in her house; Nobody ever wanted to miss the meal that was prepared meticulously for that night. Prior to working as a chef, Alissa worked in the music industry for over eleven years. Though she will always love music, she has found her true passion in food and cooking. Since her career change she has had the opportunity to cook in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Brooklyn, where she has perfected her technique, ingredients, and flavor profile to curate her own style. Alissa believes that everyone deserves to eat well, hardily, and healthfully and hopes to accomplish this mission by sharing her food with others.
Alex Baker | NYC
Alex is originally from Kansas City where she obtained a degree in Communications and Business from The University of Kansas. After studying abroad in Italy and falling in love with food she decided to change her path and attend culinary school. In 2011 she graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and spent time in kitchens around the city such as Le Chateaubriand and Spring. While living abroad she grew in appreciation for farmers markets, real deal farm-to-table food, and the culture of cuisine. She then traveled to New York City and has cooked here for three years in restaurants such as Locanda Verde and the Michilan Starred Rebelle. She has also taught private cooking lessons to kids, classes at Sur La Table and done numerous private events. Alex is passionate about local and seasonal food. She loves the farmers markets and cooking with the vegetables and herbs her boyfriend grows at home. She is inspired and motivated by the way a meal brings people and communities together and hopes to spread her passion and the joy of food through her career as a chef.
Jacob Bensley | NYC
Jacob has worked in some of the best restaurants in New York city, but he starts from humbler roots. During high school, Jacob got a job at a local resort in southern Vermont. After working the summer season catering numerous weddings and working the line at the fine dining restaurant at the resort, he left Vermont to attend The Connecticut Culinary Institute in Hartford Connecticut. He worked at Hartford restaurant, Firebox, which focused on using local sustainable foods. It was there that he learned the importance of respecting your environment and the foods that it supplies. From Connecticut he moved to New York City to work in some of the best Farm to Table restaurants in the city. Jacob has honed his skills at restaurants such as Little Giant, Stone Park Cafe, Mas Farmhouse, and Almanac. Working under James Beard award winning chef Galen Zamarra at Mas and Almanac, Jacob thrived. Having the opportunity to shop at the Union Square Farmers Market gave Jacob the understanding of hyper-seasonal cuisine, and to let the produce shine. Jacob prefers to cook simple, and let the food speak for itself. He has a love for cooking local seafood and spring and summertime produce, but is comfortable and happy cooking year round.
Heather Brown | NYC
Heather grew up watching her grandmother cook on the family farm in Iowa and learned the value of fresh ingredients at an early age. She took this love into her studies at the Natural Gourmet Institute and combined it with her desire to create whole, vegetable-centric, health supportive, and above all delicious food. After graduating from NGI she spent half a year interning at a farm to table restaurant in Madison, WI followed by a move back to NYC with the opportunity to work at The Modern under Chef Gabriel Kreuther. Her most recent position is cooking the fish as the Commis at Jean-Georges Restaurant. She is equally comfortable with classic French, fresh Mediterranean, American comfort foods, cooking for children and picky eaters, and vegan/vegetarian cuisine. She also loves experimenting with Asian and Middle Eastern ingredients and is always up for some baking, whether it be bread, coconut layer cake, chèvre cheesecake, or chocolate chip cookies. She will take the simple to the sublime with the ease and joy instilled in her early girlhood on the farm.
Rachel Crawford | NYC
Rachel grew up in a mostly vegetarian household, learning from an early age how to build a meal without meat. Her love of cooking comes from her dad, whose culinary roots lie in Louisiana, and who isn't afraid to craft a meal without a recipe and season with impunity. She loves to cook mostly vegetarian, seasonal dishes, with a particular focus on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors. After spending four months living in Italy, she learned that dinner is best enjoyed with friends, wine, and a plentiful amount of time to enjoy the food, libations, and company. She loves to teach home cooking, and admires Tamar Adler's approach to simple food, beautifully articulated in her book, "An Everlasting Meal."
Dalia David | NYC
Dalia creates meals for families that cater to their personal eating style and improve their energy and vitality. She hails from a pineapple plantation in Southern India and spent her childhood on rice paddy fields surrounded by coconut trees and acres and acres of banana trees. Coming from a farming family, her meals came from the earth and at a young age she became aware of how food nourished her body and provided strength for the day. This has influenced her food philosophy greatly. Dalia is a trained Chef from the Natural Gourmet Institute and specializes in making dishes that are both delicious and nutritious using local and organic ingredients. She loves to cook dishes for those who are vegan, gluten- free, or prefer raw food cuisine and desserts. Her cooking style is one you would call "healthy global fusion" as east meets west is part of her intuition. She comes to you from the kitchens of Jean Georges' Spice Market, Pure Food & Wine, James Beard Foundation, and as a Catering Chef for Linkedin HQ NYC.
Prior to attending culinary school and gaining restaurant experience, she worked exclusively with private clients. Dalia will plan a menu with you that's suits your taste preference and handle the grocery shopping at Whole Foods and local farmers markets. She'll then do the cooking, storing, labeling and providing of the heating instructions. There is a chance she is a rare bird because she finds clean-up of the kitchen afterwards highly gratifying. Whatever you are thinking of eating, Dalia can find a way to boost its nutrient potential and pack it with rich, satisfying flavor. From classic dishes to "give me something new to eat", she is ready to satisfy your palate. Cheers!
Ananda Eidelstein | NYC
Ananda has had a passion for food since growing up in the kitchen of her grandma’s vegetarian restaurant in Venezuela and since then, fresh ingredients and cooking has always been a part of who she is. After culinary school, she has fueled her passion for farm-to-table working in the kitchen of the Michelin-star restaurant Blue Hill, worked in the test kitchens of Martha Stewart Living and Saveur magazines-- testing recipes and strengthening techniques on a daily basis to hone her skills, and was also a part of the culinary and production team for ABC’s The Chew. She worked in the Cheese Caves of Murray’s Cheese to learn the art of affinage. Ananda finds entertainment and comfort in experimenting with ingredients and recipes. She gathers inspiration from her massive cookbook library and food publications. However, what she loves most about food and cooking-- is that with just a few ingredients thoughtfully prepared into a well-crafted meal, food brings out happiness in everyone.
Ashley Fahr | LA
Ashley’s love of cooking started during college, when she spent an entire summer reading through the cookbooks in her parent’s house and forcing them to taste and critique her concoctions. From that point on, her cooking endeavors took a more professional turn, with a summer internship at America’s Test Kitchen. Ashley’s passion for and curiosity about food have taken her around the world, from Paris (where she received a master’s degree in Food Studies from the Sorbonne) to New York (working in restaurants and cooking schools) and finally to LA (working the two-Michelin star restaurant, Melisse, and now for The Culinistas). She loves cooking with produce from the farmer’s market, and more than anything else, loves putting a smile on people’s faces by way of a fabulous meal. Ashley enjoys working with strongly flavored ingredients such as anchovies, sundried tomatoes, preserved lemons, black garlic, fresh herbs, and parmesan cheese.
Dorothy Fine | NYC
Growing up in a close-knit family just outside New York City with food and wine enthusiast parents, Dorothy loves and is well-acquainted with at-home and restaurant dining experiences. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute, Dorothy honed her cooking skills at David Chang's Momofuku Ssam Bar and 3-Michelin starred Jean-Georges. At both technique-driven restaurants, she learned how to enhance local ingredients with exotic flavors like miso, kombu and white soy. Most recently, Dorothy served as sous chef at Jean George's pan-Latin restaurant, ABC Cocina. There, not only did she gain a better understanding of numerous spices and chillies, but also worked closely with meat and fish purveyors as well as farmers to secure the highest quality ingredients. Also a lover of Italian and French food, Dorothy enjoys preparing a wide variety of cuisines but consistently brightens any dish with fresh herbs, a touch of citrus or a quick-pickled seasonal vegetable.
Danny Freeman | NYC
Chef Danny Freemans’ experience has been diverse, having worked in some of New York City’s finest restaurants such as Veritas, Barbuto and Il Buco Alimentari, as well as working as the personal chef to the band Kings of Leon. He expresses his love for fresh, seasonal ingredients through modern Mediterranean and French cooking techniques. Danny grew up in Santa Monica, California where he gained an appreciation for fresh vegetables and rustic cooking from his mother, an organic farmer. He began his career at Josiah Citrins’ two Michelin star restaurant, Melisse. Danny has also traveled and worked extensively through France and Spain, expanding his culinary horizons. Danny’s cooking philosophy centers on fresh, local ingredients inspired by the wholesome simplicity of farmhouses around the world.
Dante Giannini | NYC
Dante's culinary background started in a 40 seat fine dining restaurant when he was sixteen working first as a prep cook/dishwasher and eventually working his way through all of the line cook positions over two years. It sparked his interest in attending culinary school at CIA where he staged at a small restaurant and, on his days off, trailed at some of NYC’s great restaurants such as Oceana, a Michelin rated restaurant and Aquagrille, a popular seafood spot in Soho. He took a 7- month leave of absence from school to gain more experience at Equus at The Castle on The Hudson in Westchester NY, a AAA Five diamond rated hotel/restaurant. After school, he ventured into catering dinner parties and special occasions only taking time off to work a seasonal job at a popular East Hampton restaurant, The 1770 House. Dante enjoys the creativity, flexibility and the individual attention that comes from working as a personal chef.
Carly Gould | NYC
Carly has been cooking since she was a child, insisting that her birthday parties be cooking classes at the local bakery or pizza shop. She comes from a family passionate about food, whether it be cooking or eating. Carly attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she spent a semester abroad to study Italian cuisine in Florence. She later attended the Institute of Culinary Education in New York where she gained a certificate in Culinary Arts. Carly has cooked at ABC Kitchen, Il Buco Alimentari and a non-for-profit called Wellness in the Schools. When she isn’t working on making school food healthier, Carly is busy cooking rustic, greenmarket-driven food for her friends and family. Carly uses inspiration from the CSA she belongs to, local greenmarkets, and from the fabulous restaurants that New York City has to offer.
Courtney Howerton | LA
Courtney has always been a food lover and curious eater. After childhood kitchen experiments and years of self-teaching through cooking shows, Courtney enrolled in the French Culinary Institute to hone her skills and gain a fundamental knowledge of French cuisine. Since graduating with honors in 2012, Courtney has spent time cooking at Sur la Table and as the resident chef in the Miele Manhattan kitchen showroom, developing recipes and preparing dishes for culinary classes, demonstrations and industry events. She relocated from NYC to Los Angeles in 2013 and began working as a private chef, blending her classic French cooking style with light and vibrant California cuisine. Courtney’s recipes are an eclectic combination of the comfort foods she grew up on in the Midwest and the sophisticated flavors and ingredients discovered from travels abroad. She is an avid traveler and has a growing collection of spices from each destination. She loves every type of seafood and is a cheese fanatic.
Kristin Koziara | NYC
Kristin started cooking while caring for her ailing memere (french for grandmother) in Massachusetts. It taught her the power of fresh food made with love — inspiration she carried to culinary school and on to jobs at renowned restaurants in San Francisco and New York City. She makes simple seasonal, Italian-influenced dishes with the finest local ingredients. Trips to the farmers market often spark her best menu ideas. Seeing fresh favas or english peas sends her to the kitchen for carbonara. Spring onions and green garlic are deftly roasted to perfection and finished with a hearty romesco sauce. Endless shapes, sizes and varietals of heirloom tomatoes- Kirstin sees pickled shallots, red wine oregano vinaigrette and homemade ricotta in their near future
While traveling across South America, Kristin had the opportunity to work on an organic farm. There in Uruguay, she learned to use the earth as her culinary canvas, taking what was available from its source and feeding her new found companions.
Kristin has worked as head chef at the Franny's-owned prepared food shop, Brooklyn Larder and as a cook at the award-winning restaurants, NOPA and Delfina in San Francisco. Her influences include Alice Waters, Julia Child and Marcella Hazan. Her culinary mantra is simple food is not easy food. Kristin believes in honest, accessible foods prepared with care and attention to detail.
Rosalba Mannino | NYC
Rosalba was introduced to cooking while spending summers at her grandparents farm in Sicily. She developed a true passion for fine Italian cuisine. Fast forward to a successful NYC career in finance which left her dissatisfied with the day to day monotony. She then made the decision to go back to her roots and to pursue her true passion in culinary arts. She went to the International Culinary Center to hone her skills and develop a foundation that has transcended her inherent talent to another level. She was awarded a degree in Culinary Arts with honors. Since Graduating, she‘s had the pleasure to work on a multitude of catered events, private parties, and intimate dinner events throughout New York City. She is a pleasure to have in the home and will tell stories about her grandparents who came to NYC in the first wave of Italian immigrants to settle in the village. What a treasure!
Christopher Marcano | NYC
Christopher started cooking at the age of 17. He started as a dishwasher at a small bistro and quickly moved up, becoming a line cook. It was there that he fell in love with cooking and attend culinary school (ICE). At the age of 19, he worked in his first 3 Star, Michelin Starred restaurant under Chef Cornelius Gallagher at Oceana. He learned discipline, cleanliness, honed his knife skills and practiced speed and consistency. He then went on to cook for more acclaimed chefs including; Bill Telepan, Missy Robbins, Christopher Bradley and Scott Conant. 10 years later his style has developed into cooking with fresh seasonal ingredients, letting the ingredients shine individually creating harmonious composed dishes. He has a deep love for pasta, Italian cuisine and the simplicity of cooking. He prefers olive oil over butter and loves to add flavor with garlic, herbs, mushrooms, cheese and citrus. He has a strong appreciation for vegetables, some of his favorites are kale, brussel sprouts , potatoes and root vegetables like celery root, turnips and all kinds of squash. He loves to cook pretty much anything the list goes on!
Kenny Monroe | NYC
Kenny first fell in love with food on a local organic vegetable farm in his his home state of Wisconsin. He went on to study sustainable agriculture & food policy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After stints at local farms & the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, he began working at Underground Food Collective’s acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant Forequarter in downtown Madison, working his way up from dishwasher to Sous Chef in less than a year. Since then Kenny has worked in some of the finest kitchens in New York City and maintains his love of local food & farming as one of the head chefs at North Brooklyn Farms and a chef educator with the Insurgo Project’s farm-to-school curriculum. Kenny loves to cook with the seasons, using the freshest local ingredients available. He loves simple, bold flavors & preparations, but isn’t afraid to experiment with new cuisines & techniques. While he truly believes that all ingredients are created equal - he does have a special place in his heart for spicy red radishes, whole grain mustard, & pickles of all kinds. He hopes to one day open a restaurant & farm to showcase the entire process of food - from seed, to grower, to cook, to eater.
Ebru Ozden | NYC
Growing up in restaurant business gave Ebru not only love for food but also provided her with appreciation of fresh ingredients and scratch cooking. After graduating from French Culinary Institute in 2003 she started cooking professionally at various NYC restaurants such as Raoul’s , Applewood Brooklyn and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. There she learned to combine her Mediterranean background with strong French techniques. After having her first son in 2008, she realized that as much as she enjoyed cooking at restaurants she needed to shift her culinary skills and knowledge to cooking healthier using local and organic ingredients. During this time she attended Institute for Integrative Nutrition and now as a mother of two her cooking highlights the importance of nutrition for the right body and right mind.
Melissa Tung | NYC
Melissa has been cooking for family and friends, hosting parties, and baking up a storm since a young age, but did not think of it as a possible career. She originally planned to go to law school, but changed her mind and went to culinary school instead. Best decision she ever made! Since graduating from The French Culinary Institute, she has been working in New York City at Bouchon Bakery and then at a catering company doing events for 100 to 1000 guests. Melissa's years of catering have exposed her to many different cuisines including French, American, Asian, Italian, and Spanish. Some of her favorite NYC restaurants include The Dutch, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Otto, and Riverpark.
Judith Jones | LA
Judith’s love affair with food started from a young age while traveling around the globe. She crafted her talent, taking culinary classes wherever her travels would take her; from India to Thailand, Italy to Argentina, Spain to Peru, picking up techniques, recipes and flavors to write home about. She shares her ideas and recipes on her food and travel blog, The Gourmet Travelista. She has been featured as a Global Food Chef for the Marie Osmond Show on Hallmark Chanel, as well as hosting online “How-to” recipes for Recipe.com and Mahalo. When not cooking for clients, she currently hosts PBS show, Globe Trekker. As a Personal Chef, she focuses on nutritious and healthy meals with a global flair. She particularly likes cooking Indian, Japanese and Middle Eastern cuisine, and also shines light on local, fresh, seasonal produce that is good for body and soul. She is currently writing her first book on Foods from around the Globe.
Ashley Ricart | NJ
Ashley developed a love of food at an early age. The heart of the home was most certainly in the kitchen and this is where she shared a lot of memories with friends and family. Cooking connects her with the ones she loves and her goal is create that connection with others as she cooks her way into your hearts and homes. She taught preschool for a number of years before entering culinary school. She always had a passion to learn more about nutrition and the benefits of eating for wellness. The Natural Gourmet Institute provided her with this background to prepare tasty, well-balanced meals using high quality, nutritious ingredients. Upon graduation, she has worked as a private chef and caterer using seasonal, local and organic food wherever possible.
Diana Stadlen | LA
Diana Stadlen is a California cuisine specialist, personal chef, caterer and culinary teacher in greater Los Angeles. She is an advocate of healthy, approachable gourmet food. With an emphasis on fresh, organic, local and seasonal produce, she is always developing interesting and delightful recipes that spotlight ingredients in a delicious and creative way. Diana graduated from Le Cordon Bleu and has worked at some of the top restaurants in L.A, including A/O/C and Primitivo Wine Bistro. Her clientele is extensive and has included families, working professionals, and celebrities as well as corporate firms such as Tiffany & Co., Burberry, DreamWorks, The Walt Disney Corp. Nike, LeBron James, John Travolta and Trent & Mariqueen Reznor, among others. Diana is inspired in the kitchen: trained in the classics but equally passionate about exotic world cuisines, vegan and vegetarian food.
Julie Tanous | LA
Cornbread-fed and raised in the Heart of Dixie, Julie has loved food since the day she could hold a spoon. After working in the film and music industries, she decided to pursue her passion for food. Julie received her Culinary Arts degree from New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) where she graduated top of her class. After ICE, Julie worked in the test kitchen at Saveur magazine, where she developed recipes, prepared and styled food for photo shoots, and wrote articles for the website. She also spent a summer working at the renowned Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in New York City’s Chelsea Market. Julie currently resides in Santa Monica, California and is a personal chef, recipe tester and developer, and food blogger. She draws inspiration from her Southern roots, and is passionate about creating dishes with locally-sourced, sustainable produce and meat. Julie is a member of The Southern Foodways Alliance and Women Chefs & Restaurateurs.
Tamar Temler | LA
Tamar grew up in a family that loves to cook as much as they love to eat. Watching and helping her mother and grandparents in the kitchen, she learned how to prepare food with respect and care. But it was when she switched to a plant-based diet in 2009 that Tamar's culinary creativity really flourished. Now she cooks with the freshest seasonal produce from local farms, and loves to show people how plant-based meals can be nutritious, satisfying and delicious.
Dimitra Vourliotis | NYC
Dimitra has worked for chefs such as Dan Barber and Daniel Boulud. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute and attributes her love of food and cooking to her childhood. Growing up in the restaurant business, she was surrounded by food and realized soon that she had a knack for cooking. Her experience ranges from restaurants to food trucks and she has picked up a unique style of cooking on the way. Dimitra is inspired by NYC's food culture and is constantly exploring the city looking for new restaurants, street food and inspiration. She loves using fresh, local ingredients to create food that is both comforting and nourishing.
Courney White | NYC
Courtney completed her culinary degree in Italy at the International Culinary Center. During her tenure abroad, she worked for a Michelin-star restaurant in Tuscany. Upon her return to the United States, she edited recipes for the Food Network, and then moved to Vermont to become the head chef of the farm-to-table restaurant, Salt. She was admitted to NYU for a Food Studies masters program and upon returning to the city embarked on a three-month whole animal butchering internship at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in Chelsea Market. Courtney enjoys the creativity of a career in food. She loves utilizing local ingredients with innovation and believes in the power of good food to bring families and communities together.
Anna Spangler | NYC
Anna Spangler is a chef trained in French culinary techniques but adds her own Southern and Asian flair to her menus. She works with corporate and private clients, curating customized menus dependent on likes, dislikes, and dietary restrictions. She has also catered all types of events from baby showers, to board meetings, to elaborate fundraising dinners. She is a culinary instructor at Sur La Table and enjoys providing cooking classes to corporate or private clients.
Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, Anna was highly influenced by Southern home-style cooking. However, it was her travels to Italy and France that peaked her interest in all-things-culinary. After graduating from the University of Georgia in Political Science, Anna moved to New York City to attend The French Culinary Institute. During and after The French Culinary Institute, Anna worked at The Dutch for two and a half years under Chef de Cuisine Jason Hua. Anna"s broad experiences enable her to cater menus and culinary experiences for her clients.