Scroll below to learn more about the best chefs from the best local restaurants
that teach classes at Kitchen Conservatory.
Michelle Allender, co-owner and chef of The Muddled Pig Gastropub in Maplewood,has been cooking for as long as she can remember, and was always in the kitchen with her grandma. After attending the culinary program at St.Louis Community College at Forest Park, shestarted her professional culinary career at The Gatesworth at One McKnight Place, was co-executive chef at Bella Vino Wine Bar, and was sous chef at Napa Catering. Michelle loves food and tries to find new fun ways to work with the normal everday foods to make the familiar more fun.
Chef Jean-Pierre Augé became an apprentice chef in his hometown of Vatan, France at the age of thirteen. He has cooked for President Charles de Gaulle, the Queen of England, President Dwight Eisenhower, the Kennedys, Aristotle Onassis, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, vice-presidents, secretaries of state, and several U.S. astronauts. When Assumption Abbey in Ava, Missouri, was developing their bakery and famous fruitcakes, they sought the help of world class chef Jean-Pierre Augé in providing the recipe for the fruitcake that graces many holiday tables.
Chef Jean-Pierre Augé has taught French cooking classes for forty years, including almost 30 years at Kitchen Conservatory. His memorable Saturday morning classes offer a sumptuous luncheon in addition to his entertaining stories. He has a flair for elegant presentations and sophisticated recipes.
Glenn Bardgett has been the Wine Director at Annie Gunn's Restaurant and the Smoke House Market since 2001. Glenn has taught classes at Kitchen Conservatory for 20 years.
From his days of wine study at the University of Hawaii, he worked in the retail side of the wine business for 30 years, beginning at 905 Stores in St. Louis in the mid-70s. He co-owned the Wine Cellar for nearly 12 years, and then spent four years supervising the wine program at the Brown Derby Wine Cellar in Town & Country, MO. In 2001, Glenn made the move to expand his experience by entering the restaurant service area of wine with his move to Annie Gunn’s and Smokehouse Market.
He has been a member of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board for over 25 years, as well as Marketing Chairman for the Board. He has been an experienced wine judge in local, national and international competitions for many years. He is a member of many wine organizations and has written for several publications. He hosted a weekly wine chat on America Online for eight years.
Glenn has been awarded the designation “Certified Sommelier” by the Court of Master Sommeliers and “Certified Specialist of Wine” by the Society of Wine Educators. He was one of only 40 in the United States to receive the “Passionate Wine Service Award” from the Trefethen Winery in Napa Valley. Glenn was a contributor to the Kelly Twins TV series, “Twice Baked” on Charter Communications Network. Glenn also writes a monthly column, “Drink This” for Sauce Magazine in St. Louis. In 2009, he was given the Pioneer Award by the Missouri Grape and Wine Board. This is the highest honor given by the board.
Glenn was a James Beard Award semi-finalist for the 2011 Wine Service Award.
Bardgett is also well known for his pants.
Born in Rochester, NY, one could say Chef Brandon Benack's rich food memories as a child helped guide him on a path to become a chef. Having Grandparents from Calabria - Italy Brandon learned at an early age to roll meatballs for Sunday dinners and harvest grapes for homemade wine.
After his culinary beginnings in Hilton Head, SC, he spent five years at Emeril Lagasse's legendary creole restaurants in New Orleans. His next stop would be the most impressionable on is culinary palate, as he embarked on a three year expedition to Antigua, West Indies. In 2007, Benack returned to the US and became Chef de Cuisine at Emeril's Miami Beach. After four years at the helm of Emeril's he was recruited by Master Chef Norman Van Aken, known as the "Father of Fusion Cuisine", as a corporate chef at Norman's Orlando and Norman's 180.
In pursuit of a new home for his young family, Benack discovered St. Louis, with its great Midwestern values and emerging culinary scene. Reconnecting with Aleks Jovanovic, with whom he had worked both in New Orleans and Antigua, Chef Brandon found a new home as the Executive Chef of Truffles Restaurant. Together, they are continuing Truffles’ commitment to local, fresh ingredients, bringing passion, intensity and meticulous attention to detail in a seemingly simple yet daring approach to the Modern American restaurant. While incorporating southern classics with local influences, Chef Brandon’s cooking provides the perfect complement to Jovanovic’s “fun” dining approach.
Chef Brandon has appeared on NBC, CBS, Food Network and Plum TV Miami. He has also been featured in publications such as Miami New Times, Orlando Sentinel and Food Buzz.
Matt Bessler, executive chef for The Libertine grew up in Kirkwood, learning about cooking from his mother. Matt began his culinary career in a test kitchen for Darden Restaurant Group, working with wood burning ovens, handmade pastas and from scratch sauces. In 2000, Matt’s culinary career took shape at Schlafly’s Tap Room as he worked his way up quickly from his first job there as a prep cook to sous chef and then, as executive chef of Schlafly Bottleworks. It was while there that Matt was able to share his unique talents of farm to table cooking. While with Schlafly, Matt was instrumental in the creation one of the nation’s first Green dining alliances, the implementation of St. Louis’s largest recycling and composting program and oversaw production at Schlafly’s massive urban garden all the while managing to make hundreds of irreplaceable relationships with some of the nation’s best farmers both local and abroad. Today, Matt Bessler expresses his own unique vision of midwestern cuisine at The Libertine.
St. Louis native chef Mary (Boehne) Bogacki, began her passion for the hospitality industry at Forest Park Community College. After graduating with a degree in culinary as well as pastry, she continued her education at the University of Missouri where she earned a degree in Hospitality Management. Luckily, Chef Mary was able to travel to Austria to finish her studies abroad.
At a young age Mary has been able to experience many facets of the kitchen from garde manger at Westwood Country Club to line cook at Winslow’s Home. Her Four Seasons career began tucked away in the mountains amidst the blazing yellow aspen trees in Vail, Colorado. She put her best ski boot forward, but was drawn back to the city she knew and loved. Chef Mary graciously accepted the Pastry Chef position at the Four Seasons St. Louis location where she was able to hone her skills even further. Throughout 2015, she has been the corporate chef of Strange Donuts, learning the ins and outs of a small business. She is currently an adjunct professor at her alma mater, and truly enjoying being able to share her knowledge with the next generation of professional culinarians.
Chris Bolyard, butcher and owner of Boylard’s Meat & Provisions, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY in 2000. Upon returning to St. Louis, Chris joined the kitchen at Cardwell's at the Plaza working under chef Bill Cardwell and Dave Owens for three years. Chris then worked as sous chef, later becoming chef de cuisine in 2004 under Chef Kevin Nashan at Sidney Street Cafe. Chris is an extremely passionate chef and enjoys the diversity of St. Louis restaurants, and also finds much inspiration and pleasure in exploring other culinary metropolises with his wife. He is excited to show home cooks just how simple and fun it can be to prepare restaurant worthy dishes in the comfort of their own kitchens. Chris won the 2012 Sous Chef Iron Chef Competition at Kitchen Conservatory.
Chris Bork attended school at Westminster Kingsway College in London for two years, and worked under chefs who trained with Marco Pierre White and Michael Lamby. Chris returned to St. Louis in 2005 and became sous chef at Wild Flower, chef at Roxane, sous chef and chef at Revival, chef at The Mud House, and executive chef at Blood and Sand.
Susan Caciano is a plant-based private chef passionate about simple, innovative habits that positively impact daily life. She empowers you to discover your natural creativity with nutrient-rich fuel as a means to longer, more vibrant living. Her passion led her to create Yellowbird Nutrition, a private chef and lifestyle service. She is a registered dietitian with a Master's in Nutrition and Physical Performance from Saint Louis University.
Jane Callahan, owner of Pie Oh My!, grew up on a farm in Minnesota, and learned to bake pies from her mother, whose effortless and experienced hands made the task seem simple. Since her mom whipped out pies practically with her eyes closed, Jane assumed that everyone had access to mouth watering pies made from scratch. After moving away from the farm, she began baking pies on her own and loved incorporating her Mom's deft techniques while experimenting with new recipes. For Jane, making pies is a rewarding sensory experience - touch, smell, sight and taste. And, more than anything she loves the simplicity of bringing a contented smile to someone's face as they bite into a delicious homemade pie and say...."oh my!" Jane's pies can be delivered right to your door, and are also available at her retail location in Maplewood.
Chef Steven Caravelli has had an interest in food since he was young, but his culinary career didn't begin until after completing a degree at the Missouri School of Journalism in 2002. While writing for Sauce Magazine, Chef Caravelli realized he wanted to do what he loved.
He took a position at Chez Leon where he would later become pastry chef. Then, he seized the opportunity to work for Certified Master Chef Aidan Murphy at Old Warson Country Club. This position led him to the American Culinary Federation and the St Louis junior team of 2003, where he competed across the region.
His career quickly accelerated while working at Larry Forgione's An American Place, and his knowledge and confidence grew as an instructor at L'Ecole Culinaire. As sous chef for Gerard Craft at Niche, he developed bonds with local farmers.
In 2007 he was hired as opening sous chef at SLeeK Steakhouse where he was quickly promoted to chef de cuisine. Working closely with Chef Hubert Keller and Chef Laurent Pillard, he helped to create a steakhouse that is unique and rivals other great steakhouses across the country.
Steve Caravelli is the chef at Cucina Pazzo.
Robert "Bob" Colosimo was born and raised in Warren, Pennsylvania and upon graduation from high school attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1980.
Bob began his traveling food career in 1981 by joining Holland America Cruise Line sailing on board several oceangoing cruise ships, including a world cruise in 1984.
In 1984, Bob joined St. Louis-based Clipper Cruise Line as executive chef. During this period, Bob had the opportunity to work on passenger ships, river boats in Europe, and on the American Orient Express Luxury Train. Bob also has worked as an adjunct instructor at St. Louis Community College, Forest Park.
In 2008, Bob joined the Eleven Eleven Mississippi Restaurant team and in 2009 became the general manager/executive chef.
Bob is a Certified Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Administrator.
Gian Nicola Colucci
Gian Nicola Colucci, executive chef of Cielo at Four Seasons since 2014, was born in Turin, Italy and where he went to culinary school. His move to St. Louis was his second move to the US, having worked with beloved Italian chef Lidia Bastianich at her flagship restaurant, Felidia, in New York early in his career. His culinary journey has included Restaurant Terrazza Danieli at Hotel Danieli, Venice, Italy; Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf; Grand Hotel Quisisana, Capri, Italy; Don Alfonso Restaurant, Naples, Italy; Restaurant Giola, Milan, Italy; Felidia Restaurant, New York; and Del Cambio Restaurant, Turin, Italy.
His philosophy is a personal reflection of his background, “My dishes tell the story of my history as a cook and all the great chefs and restaurants I have been lucky to work with. The veal cutlet is done in the style of my home region of Lombardy, lightly breaded and served with capers and a Mediterranean sauce. The island of Capri inspires the swordfish with herbs on a bed of crispy onions, and the beautiful raspberry mousse with vanilla and biscuits evokes my time in Venice.”
Rob Connoley is a James Beard semi-finalist for his New Mexico foraged foods restaurant, The Curious Kumquat. Born and raised in St. Louis, Rob has returned to explore the foods of the Midwest and share his experiences in the kitchen. His pastries and game meat dishes have been featured in Saveur, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Sunset magazines. Rob's cookbook, Acorns & Cattails: A Modern Foraging Cookbook was released in the Fall of 2016. A self-taught chef, Connoley enjoys teaching all skill levels the tips and tricks of the trade. When not in the kitchen he can be found on the deep woods trails with his blue tick hound, Lexi.
The owner of Kitchen Conservatory, Anne Cori has taught cooking classes for twenty years. She trained by working in restaurant kitchens in Italy, France, and
New Orleans. She operated a catering business, Amuse-Bouche Catering, in St. Louis
for ten years. She has produced several videos on cooking called Mastering the Kitchen.
She is a Certified Culinary Professional by the International Association of Culinary
Alex Cupp, smoker at Adam’s Smokehouse, developed an interest in food watching his father cook for his family. In high school, he decided to learn more about food and took a job at Stellina Pasta as a dishwasher and prep cook, and finally a line cook while attending culinary school at Forest Park Community College. Alex refined his skills with chef Chris Desens at the Raquet Club in Ladue and learned what it takes to be a chef. He attended Webster University pursuing an audio engineering degree and did some traveling abroad, while keeping his foot in Stellina's kitchen. Alex has worked at Old Warson Country Club under CEC Dan Holtgrave and CMC Aidan Murphy before taking a position at Adam's Smokehouse. You can still find him making appearances at Stellina every now and again!
Linda Daniels, award-winning donut baker, bakes gluten-free breads and cookies with premium whole grain ingredients. Linda fancies herself as a frequent blogger (www.freerangecookies.com) and cookievore. Linda has been teaching sold-out gluten-free cooking classes at Kitchen Conservatory since 2010. (photo courtesy of Corey Woodruff)
Chef Jay Dedkhad, of Ocha Thai and Japanese Restaurant, creates beautiful and delectable sushi, teaching one of our most popular classes. His knowledge, expertise, and patient teaching are always appreciated by students.
Locally born and raised, Anthony Devoti is proud to be able to showcase the flavors of hishome region. His Italian immigrant grandparents had a small restaurant in North County where his father worked as a short order cook. Anthony began his formal training in the culinary program at St. Louis Community College and moved on to graduate from the French Culinary Institute in New York City.
He returned to St. Louis working at restaurants
that include David Slay's ZuZu Petals and Bistro Eau at The Chase Park Plaza.
Wanting to further his education and focus on farm-to-table cooking, Anthony moved to San Francisco working under James Beard
Award winning Chef Judy Rodgers at Zuni Cafe. Anthony returned to St. Louis and is the chef-owner of Five Bistro.
Devon Drag, a retail associate at Kitchen Conservatory and avid baker, spent ten years in retail management, first at Lord & Taylor then Eddie Bauer. Devon took about two years off before coming to Kitchen Conservatory in March of 2015. The reason she likes to cook, especially bake, is simple - it makes people happy. It's a simple thing to share that people always appreciate. Who can have a bad day when there are cupcakes involved?
After losing her dad to cancer, and she herself receiving the diagnosis, Caryn Dugan decided to take her health into her own hands. Research lead her to a plant-based diet and in 2008 she adopted the diet fully. The learning curve was tough and that's what prompted her to begin her now flourishing business, STLVegGirl in 2011; to help others make the transition.
Her career unknowingly began in 2008 after attending a local plant-based cooking class and the instructor called her afterward to assist the next class. That lasted two and a half years. In 2011 she went out on her own, began teaching her own classes, filling speaking engagements and visiting clients for in home consults. She was accepted into the Physician's Committee Cancer Project Program in Washington DC and earned her Food For Life Certification. Caryn is certified to help cancer patients in treatment and remission, type II diabetics, and obese individuals through the use of nutrition. She teaches children's programs in schools and conducts healthy weight management classes. She is a plant-based personal chef delivering healthy meals and running a small group catering business. She also enjoys getting up early to fulfill her first love; broadcast. You can find Caryn on Show Me St. Louis, FOX2 in the Morning and Great Day St. Louis various times days during the month.
Pete Fagan has been at Tony's for 25 years, working directly under executive chef Vince P. Bommarito. As the night chef, he is his right hand man developing seasonal specials and incorporating them into the menu, passing down his knowledge to ensure the highest possible quality and attention to detail at point of service.
Ericka Frank is owner of the Cakery Bakery in Dogtown. Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, she made her first wedding cake at the age of 14 and has been passionate about pleasing the eye as well as the palate ever since. Her enthusiasm for all things culinary led her to St. Louis to complete her master's degree in dietetics.
While the transition from nutrition to buttercream may seem like quite a stretch, dessert fans everywhere are glad she took the leap. After years of baking for friends and family out of her home, Ericka opened the Cakery in March of 2005. She has now been baking and decorating cakes for over 25 years and is eager to please even the most exacting clients with her exquisite creations. She has an incredibly talented team of individuals working with her to consistently ensure the highest quality cakes, cupcakes, and cookies available.
Jeff Friesen, of Sugarfire Smoke House, returned to his childhood town of St. Louis in 2009, after graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York and working at A Voce. Jeff was the sous chef at Farmhaus from 2010 through 2015, and has a passion for cooking pasta, fish, and smoked meats.
Pizzaiolo Mitch Frost teaches The Art of Pizza Throwing and Italian Lira at Kitchen Conservatory for Onesto Pizza and Trattoria.
Growing up in South Louisiana gave Joshua Galliano a great appreciation for the
life of the city and the ways of the country. After working at various restaurants
in Baton Rouge, Josh was lucky enough to find two mentors who encouraged his
passion for food. The quest for knowledge and experience in cooking led Josh past
a Master's degree in Political Science to a Grand Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu in
London. Josh has worked at Commander's Palace and Brennan's in New Orleans, and
also with Daniel Boulud in New York.
After evacuating New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, Josh and his wife have
begun a new life in the Midwest. Josh was the executive chef at Monarch where he highlighted
the bounty of local farmers and modern interpretations of American regional cuisine. Josh Galliano is the chef of Libertine in Clayton.
Kelly Green Gardner
Kelly Green Gardner joined the Kitchen Conservatory staff in 2008. A cookbook
addict and self-taught cook, Kelly chronicles her kitchen adventures on her food
blog Sounding My Barbaric Gulp (www.barbaricgulp.com). She is also a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher and an occasional contributor to Sauce Magazine. Kelly teaches English at East Alton-Wood River High School and was named Teacher of the Year in 2012.
Adam Gnau, executive chef at Acero Ristorante, has been part of the Fiala Group restaurants since 2004. Born in St. Louis, Adam studied at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. Adam’s culinary achievements include the 2013 inaugural edition of Best Chefs America, and winner of the 2014 KMOX Food Fight.
Aruna Gopinath grew up in Bangalore, India, but hails originally from the southern-most state in India, called Kerala - the land of fish, rice and coconut! Aruna is a financial services professional with a passion for cooking. Her "career" in the kitchen started at age 11 under the guidance of her mother and later on by other family members. She has been cooking for family and friends ever since and enjoys it thoroughly. Aruna's biggest fan is her teenage daughter, and she also caters for parties and local events.
Rex Hale brings over 25 years of culinary experience and acclaim to his position as the executive chef at The Restaurant at The Cheshire. His extensive resume includes positions at a number of notable restaurants around the world, from South Africa to California and Antigua to the British Virgin Islands, including Baby Routh in Dallas and The Ojai Inn in Ojai, CA.
He also currently serves as Executive Chef at St. Louis hot spot, Three Sixty, where he has crafted an innovative small plates menu that focuses on sourcing products from premier local purveyors. Hale has been closely involved with Restaurant before it opened and his passion for ingredient-driven food is reflected in the menu for The Restaurant. Whenever possible, he sources and utilizes products from local farms, sustainable fish mongers and environmentally responsible meat programs. He is dedicated to cultivating those relationships with local vendors, and to training and growing his team to have the same passion.
Kristine Halstead, mother of three active children, joined the staff of Kitchen Conservatory in 2012 with a passion of cooking. Kristine has worked in the fitness profession for more than 15 years, and as a personal trainer for 10 years. She is active in her children’s activities and school life, and loves to involve them with cooking in the kitchen with her.
Austin Hamblin, co-owner and chef of The Muddled Pig Gastropub in Maplewood, attended the culinary program at St.Louis Community College at Forest Park and was an A.C.F. registered apprentice. Before opening The Muddled Pig, Austin was the sous chef at Meadowbrook Country Club, co-executive chef at Bella Vino Wine Bar. His love for cooking stems from his southern roots with half of his family from Texas and half from Louisiana, with plenty of outdoor cookouts, crab fishing, barbecue, Cajun cooking, and crawfish boils. Austin has found his comfort zone in pushing the boundaries of comfort food by cooking something unfamiliar in a very familiar way.
Beth Hughes, a St. Louis native, has always had a love for baking. After earning her bachelor's degree in business from Fontbonne University, she attended Forest Park Community College for Baking and Pastry while working her way from hostess to assistant pastry cook at Eclipse Restaurant in the Moonrise Hotel. After graduating, Beth studied abroad in Florence, Italy at the Apicius Culinary Institute where she honed her skills and discovered her passion and talent for redefining classic recipes. Shortly after returning, she found herself at the helm of Eclipse Restaurant's confectionary creations and house-baked staples as executive pastry chef. Beth currently works as the pastry chef at I Scream Cakes and Chef's Table StL
Margi Kahn, who bakes fresh bread in her home every day, has been teaching bread
baking and other cooking classes at Kitchen Conservatory for over twenty years. Her engaging and passionate personality inspires all of her students to start sourdough starters, hand-knead doughs, and bake irresistable breads. Many local and national publications have featured her excellent bread-baking skills. Margi writes the food column for the Jewish Light and has judged many food competitions.
Ashley Schuster Kempf
Ashley Schuster Kempf graduated from L’Ecole Culinaire in 2009, then staged with some of the best chefs in St. Louis, including Gerard Craft, Kevin Willman, Josh Galliano, and Kevin Nashan. Ashley became part of the Sidney Street Cafe culinary team and had the honor of joining Kevin in preparing dinner for President Obama in 2011. She began working with her former teacher at L’Ecole Culinaire, Mark Sanfilippo, and mastermind of Salume Beddu in 2012, where Ashley wears many hats in a growing business of artisan cured meats.
Chef Mickey Kitterman found his passion for food and cooking as a second career -- he attended culinary school at the age of thirty! Mickey grew up in Peoria, Illinois, graduating from Western Illinois University with a degree in business administration and journalism. His first career was as a European clothing importer in Chicago. In 1983, Mickey got his culinary degree at the New School in New York City, and returned to Chicago to work with chef Michael Foley and mastering the art of French cooking. Mickey moved to St. Louis, worked with Richard Perry at the Jefferson Avenue Boarding House, and then opened Pro-visions on Cherokee Street, which was his life for twenty years. Mickey continues to influence the St. Louis cooking scene as the executive chef at Gallagher's in Waterloo, IL. In 2009 and 2015, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch declared Gallagher's fried chicken as the best fried chicken in the region. Mickey has taught cooking classes at Kitchen Conservatory for twenty years.
As a college student working towards a Bachelors Degree in advertising, Jordan Knight, the Executive Chef of the Blue Duck in Washington, MO, decided that his real love was cooking. After working in kitchens and learning to cook throughout college, Jordan took his BA in advertising with him to culinary school at East Central College to hone and sharpen his skills. His appreciation for music and writing play a role in the creative process that goes into his food and the day to day life at the Blue Duck.
Classically trained at Johnson and Wales University and a Zagat award-winner, chef Adam Lambay has shared his culinary talents at many St. Louis favorites including Café Mira, 12 North Café and Portabella Restaurant, executive chef at Chaumette Winery, is a chef instructor at Kitchen Conservatory, and sous chef of St. Louis Union Station Hotel. Many of Adam’s cooking classes at Kitchen Conservatory reflect his Indian heritage and passion for supporting local farmers.
Cookbook author Christina Lane is the founder of the popular blog, Dessert For Two. Her food writing and photography have been featured on popular food websites including The Kitchn, Tasty Kitchen, Serious Eats, and the Huffington Post. She's also been featured on QVC and The Today Show. A Texan by birth, Lane's desserts are a unique blend of Southern, Californian, and Midwestern influences. She bakes and eats dessert daily.
Nate Larson, co-founder and co-owner of Living Room Coffee and Kitchen in Maplewood, is a self-taught chef whose love of cooking is dwarfed only by his obsession with eating. He loves everything that’s good and he wants to share his love for food.
Christopher Lee grew up in St. Louis and graduated from Francis Howell High School.
He then enlisted in the United States Navy where he worked long hours in an environment
with an average temperature of 160 degrees. To this day, the heat in the kitchen
does not bother him. He then went to work for the late Jean Claude Guilloussou at
L'Auberge Bretonne, who he considered his mentor and friend. He has also worked
at Cafe de France, the Ritz-Carlton, the Chase Park Plaza, and Melange, which was
owned by his family.
Chris takes a simple, light approach to food, with a serious interest in food as
a restorative and he cooks with lots of spices and herbs. He was the executive
chef at Cafe Ventana, Sanctuaria, Diablitos, and Hendricks BBQ. Chris thoroughly enjoys the opportunity
to teach and to share his passion with so many people. Chris is the owner of Chef’s Table STL, specializing in corporate events, catering, in-home events, office parties, receptions, and as a personal chef creating fresh, delicious food with seasonal ingredients.
Raised in rural Wisconsin on a family farm, Simon Lehrer has had a passion for locally grown, sustainable, artisanal foods. He is an award winning cheesemonger with an exceptional record of service for locally notable establishments including Niche, Tony's, Pomme, and The Scottish Arms. He has been featured in articles in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sauce Magazine, and various industry periodicals. With more than eight years of working in all facets of cheese and specialty foods, he is an expert in all things cheese! (Photo courtesy of Corey Woodruff.)
Jon Lowe, chef de cuisine at Ibby’s at Washington University, was born and raised in Central Kentucky.
Since the age of eleven, he has been working toward his goal of becoming an executive
chef. After graduating from Johnson & Wales University in 1998, Jon accepted
a sous chef position at a catering company in Charleston, South Carolina.
Vanna White and Bill Murray were just a few of the celebrities he entertained with
his artistic culinary skills. Shortly after, Jon obtained a position at The Charleston
Grill under renowned Chef Bob Waggoner. While there, he experimented with what the
locals in the area call low-country cooking and combined it with French influences.
In 2000, Chef Lowe moved to Memphis to open a Mediterranean concept for a small
company outside of Kansas City, Missouri. Eventually the company transferred him
to St. Louis where he was able to contribute with handling daily operation and creating
special dinners for the community. Jon has held the longtime position as the executive chef at Oceano Bistro before making the move to Ibby’s.
Nutrition specialist and owner of Revel Kitchen (formerly Athlete Eats), chef Simon Lusky is a graduate of the prestigious Johnson and Wales University with a culinary degree and a nutrition degree, and the team chef and nutritionist for the St. Louis Cardinals. Revel Kitchen includes the cafe on Cherokee Street, meal delivery service, and a new food truck.
Jack West MacMurray, III
A native of New Jersey, Chef Jack Mac found his way to St. Louis after spending
10 years as a chef in Vail, Colorado. A 1992 silver-medalist graduate of the Academy
of Culinary Arts in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Chef MacMurray has cooked for many
famous people, including Emeril Lagasse and President Gerald Ford. He has held the
executive chef position at Wild Horse Grill and Old Hickory Country Club in St.
Louis. Chef MacMurray
was the executive chef at Sage, which opened in 2007 to rave reviews, executive chef at Schneithorst's Restaurant & Bar, executive chef at Joe Buck’s Downtown, and now chef at Candicci’s. Jack's engaging teaching style and passion for cooking make his participation classes especially fun.
Ivy Magruder was born in St. Louis and graduated from Vianney High School. He attended
Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina, and after working
at various restaurants, including Flying Fish Cafe at Disney's Boardwalk, he moved
back to St. Louis in 2001. He had been the chef at Eleven Eleven Mississippi since
it opened, moved to Vin-de-Set as the executive chef, became the corporate executive chef for the Gamlin Restaurant Group, and is now heading up the kitchen at Panorama at the St. Louis Art Museum. Ivy's cooking motto is KISS (keep it
simple stupid), and his fun-loving and "simple" approach are evident in
his teaching style.
Julie Malloy is a familiar face at Kitchen Conservatory, working in the retail store, and teaches many of our cake pops classes. Julie is from Alabama, and moved to St. Louis when she got married, and is now the mother of three, including a set of twins - and she considers her children the toughest critics in the kitchen.
Barry Marcus is a pastry chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education
(ICE) in New York City. A one time instructor in the Microcomputer Program at the
University of Missouri-St. Louis, he "got the New York bug" and with his
wife and dogs close behind, moved from the Midwest to find his place in the big
city restaurant scene. He succeeded, landing positions in the prestigious pastry
and confectionery kitchens of Payard Patisserie, The Tribeca Grill and Le Cirque
2000, before being offered a full-time faculty position at ICE by Chef Nick Malgieri,
dean of Pastry Arts.
Now residing once again in St. Louis, he makes the trip east to teach
specialty professional development courses in pastry, confectionery and sugar art.
His three- and five-day seminars in the Art of Pulled Sugar are popular with recent
graduates of the Institute's Professional Pastry Program as well as with seasoned
culinary professionals in and around the New York area. A blue-ribbon graduate of
ICE, Barry studied the art of pulled sugar under the tutelage of Ewald Notter at
the International School of Confectionery Arts in the U.S. and with Othmar Fassbind
at the Fabilo International School of Sugar Art in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Vincent Marsden has been working in the restaurant business for 22 years. He started cutting off the tops of strawberries for pies at the now closed Tippins restaurant and has progressed through the years holding almost every job in the industry up to owner of Mirasol which was in the East Loop from early 2003 through 2007. Since then, Vincent ran multi-million dollar corporate restaurants and even managed the outlets at The Chase Park Plaza. Through the more recent years, he has honed his sights in on a life long addiction/passion; doughnuts. The co-owner/operator, main dough maker, at his new business Vincent Van Doughnut has brought Saint Louis a higher level of doughnuts with artisanal creations and spins off of classic desserts. The doughnuts at Vincent Van Doughnut include everything from your basic glazes to lemon meringue, bananas foster, creme brûlée, and their widely popular French Toast doughnut.
Like many young chefs, Ben McArthur, chef and owner at J McArthur’s An American Kitchen, started “cooking” in high school at any restaurant that would hire him. Almost instantly, his culinary interests were sparked and he was hooked. After a few years working in area kitchens, Ben headed to North Carolina where he was hired by an award-winning chef, Keith Rhodes. Chef Keith took Ben under his wing and taught him an innovative approach that he has carried with him ever since. Chef Keith introduced him to day-boat seafood like Carolina soft shells, black grouper and striped bass and showed him markets where produce was bought out of pickup trucks and the oysters were harvested out of the local by-waters. Ben learned the importance of using regional ingredients and involving the restaurant in the community whenever possible and in any way possible.
Armed with this experience, Ben moved back to St. Louis and attended both L’Ecole Culinaire and Forest Park Community College where he earned his culinary degrees. From there, Ben worked at some of the top restaurants in St. Louis where he expanded and perfected his culinary skills. He also built long-term relationships with farmers in both Illinois and Missouri with whom he continues to work with today.
Ben’s passion and creativity caught the attention of his family and they jumped at the opportunity to help him open a restaurant, his dream. J McArthur’s An American Kitchen opened in July of 2015 featuring “American regional specialties with a twist” using the best farm-fresh local ingredients available. In the first few months of its opening, J McArthur’s was named as one of the top ten best new restaurants of 2015 by Sauce Magazine, Feast Magazine, and Riverfront Times, third best new restaurant of 2015 by Ian Froeb of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, awarded Ian Froeb’s GO Top 100 restaurants and Ben’s beignets and scallops as the best new dishes of 2015.
Frank McGinty, the director of sales and marketing for Kaldi's Coffee, attended Apicius Culinary Institute of Florence, Italy, and studied business administration at Lindenwood University.
Jesse Mendica, a Webster Groves native, is the executive chef at the popular Olive + Oak. Jesse’s experience included being the executive
sous chef at the award-winning Annie Gunn's restaurant since
2007. She had been cooking with Chef Lou Rook and his
talented kitchen staff since 2000.
Jesse started in the business at 16 at her hometown
favorite, Two Nice Guy's. She quickly moved from salad, to
pizza, to the hot line quickly realizing that with the fun
and excitement of working in a kitchen came great reward and
pride. The feeling never left her, and she strives to
share her love of playing with food, laughing, and enjoying
hard, dirty work with everyone who will listen!
Jesse had the great benefit of traveling to New York with
Chef Lou Rook and Annie Gunn's restaurant in 2007 to cook a
St. Patrick's Day meal in the prestigious James Beard House,
and burst onto the Kitchen Conservatory scene as the only
female competitor in the 2012 Sous Chef Iron Chef
John Messbarger, chef de cuisine at Peacemaker Lobster and Crab Company, developed a love for cooking at a young age and continues to show this love at Peacemaker. John has been chef at The Good Pie, Little Country Gentleman, and Elaia and enjoys feeding Saint Louis diners. John was one of Feast Magazine’s Chefs on the Brink in 2015.
Dawn Meyer has been teaching cooking classes
for over ten years. She specializes in the cuisines of Mexico and Spain, which trace
her family heritage. Plus, she enjoys teaching charming classes for children and
gingerbread house making. She team-teaches couples classes with her brother-in-law
and amateur cook, Larry Meyers.
Jean Millner joined the staff of Kitchen Conservatory in 2009 and often says she feels privileged to be able to express her love of all things food by teaching cooking classes. Jean is a self-taught home cook whose culinary anchor lies in simple comfort foods but she loves to explore new cuisines. Jean reads cookbooks as if they are novels. She enjoys sharing tips and techniques in her classes and believes that we all have an inner-chef waiting to be coaxed out. When she's not working at Kitchen Conservatory, Jean enjoys gardening and spending time with her family and friends, which often includes food and board games.
Karen Mitcham-Stoeckley — restaurant owner, executive chef, and culinary writer. Most of Karen’s adult career has been devoted to creating good food to feed family and friends as well as professionally feeding guests demanding only the best on their plates. Cooking, teaching and writing are her passions.
Karen and her husband, artist John Stoeckley, have traveled to Provence for nineteen spring/summers where Karen has enjoyed the opportunity of cooking & teaching in her own kitchen with the abundance of produce from the local marketplace, as well as visit and work briefly in the kitchens of many successful chefs.
In 2012 and 2013, Karen spent seven months in Les Arcs sur Argens France creating her first major cookbook, A Culinary Legacy…from Escoffier to Today which was also photographed by Curt Dennison in France.
David Molina started his cooking career nearly fifteen years ago at the Blue Water Grill in St. Louis. After a few years of working his way through the kitchen, he helped open the Kirkwood location of Blue Water. As a Texas native, David was exposed to many different styles of southern and Mexican cuisine. After many years in St. Louis, David moved to Nashville, TN, where he worked at Boundry, an upscale restaurant that served global cuisine with a southern twist. David was exposed to ingredients from around the world.
After a year stint in Nashville, David moved back to St. Louis to open Figaro, a French/Italian restaurant with Frank Schmitz and Mike Johnson. David was then transferred one block over to open BARcelona Tapas.
Since 2002, BARcelona tapas has grown into the Clayton hotspot. In 2007 BARcelona expanded and David moved to Indianapolis, IN to open a second location and the first tapas restaurant in Indianapolis, which was named best new restaurant.
In 2009 David returned to St. Louis to work on other restaurant projects with Frank Schmitz, including opening Bocci Bar in April 2011. David has returned to his roots, joining Mike Johnson as executive chef at Sugarfire Smoke House, which is receiving many accolades for their barbecue.
Barb Nack is our fabulous director of the Kitchen Conservatory cooking school. Barb
had a mid-life career change; she followed her heart and love of cooking when she
quit her job in the medical field and went full-time to culinary school. She is
a graduate of the culinary program at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.
Barb loves to cook and entertain for her family and friends, and enjoys being with
fellow foodies. Her favorite cuisine is American comfort food.
Kevin Nashan, owner and chef of Sidney Street Cafe, studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Kevin had memorable working experiences in France at Restaurant Georges Blanc and in Spain at El Bulli. Honored as a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation Awards 2009 - Best Chef Midwest, Kevin is also an avid tri-athlete.
Janice Neuwirth loves to work in every capacity at Kitchen Conservatory, from retail sales to kitchen assistant to buyer for the extensive collection of cookie cutters. Janice graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 1997 with a degree in business administration and management and worked at AT&T for 16 years. She is a graduate of the culinary program at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. When Janice is not in the kitchen or retail store at Kitchen Conservatory, she is busy as a consultant for WineShop at home, and taking Italian classes.
A certified elementary school teacher who taught pre-school for ten years, Cindy Ott has taught the children's gingerbread house making classes at Kitchen Conservatory for over 12 years. Her enthusiastic and easy-going style inspires everyone to enjoy cooking.
Brian Pelletier is the owner and chief chocolatier at Kakao Chocolate, where he and his team make all-natural chocolates and other confections, all by hand. Brian spent nearly 20 years in marketing before diving off the corporate ladder and starting the chocolate company in 2008. Kakao was been named "Best Chocolate in St. Louis" several times and has won other local and national awards. Brian serves on three non-profit boards, has taught at the University of Missouri at St. Louis and Webster University, and has a passion for helping other people succeed.
Chef Bernard Pilon, of Norwood Hills Country Club, has been teaching classes regularly
at Kitchen Conservatory for over 15 years. Hailing from Montreal and fluent in French, Bernard Pilon refined his culinary craft in restaurants, hotels, and country clubs. It is also important
to note that he spent a year in another “St. Lou” – St. Lucia
in the Caribbean – because it was where he met his future wife while both
were working at the renowned Club Med Resort.
A resident of St. Louis since 1996, Chef Pilon is very active in the local cooking community.
He is on the advisory board for L'Ecole Culinaire, is an active member of
the Chef de Cuisine Association of St. Louis, and is involved in Operation Food
Search. He mentors young cooks starting in the profession. When he's not cooking, he can be found running marathons, playing ice hockey, quoting
Shakespeare, or enjoying jazz music with a glass of wine on one of his yearly visits
to Napa. Everyone (including the staff at Kitchen Conservatory) looks forward to his patient teaching at his monthly cooking classes with his amazing food preparations. Chef Bernard specializes in seafood dishes and his delicious tweaking of classic French cuisine.
Naam Pruitt is a Thai cuisine expert and author of Lemongrass & Limes,
a colorful introduction to Thai cooking. A Thai native, Naam was raised
in Prachuabkirikhan, Thailand. Her father, raised by Thai Buddhist monks, worked
as a Thai government spy in Burma and later as a journalist. Naam learned the secrets
of Thai cooking from her mother, who taught her how to find the best fruits, vegetables
and meat at the lowest prices. She learned how to master the subtle techniques and
skills of Thai food by watching her mother cook every day.
Naam first came to the U.S. in 1987 as a high school exchange student, spending
a year in Maryland. After returning to Thailand, she met her future husband, an
Iowan who had moved to Asia as a teenager along with his family. They were married
in 1990 and moved to Texas, where she worked as a special food assistant at the
athletic dining hall at A&M University, creating attractive food presentations
for hungry football players. She graduated from the Wilton School of Cake Decorating,
where she learned to decorate cakes and make pulled sugar creations. Later she operated her own catering business.
After living in Independence, Kansas for the past decade and teaching Thai cooking, Naam and her family moved to Saint Louis in 2008. She has taught at New York’s Institute
of Culinary Education. She also has regular Thai demonstrations at The Giant Eagle
Market District in Pittsburgh, PA. She returns to Thailand at least once each year
to find new flavors and ideas. She and her husband Dennis have two children.
Naam is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and
Women Chefs & Restaurateurs.
Karmen Rayburn, co-owner of The Blue Duck in Washington, MO, started her career in accounting. After several years in the corporate world, she decided to pursue her love of baking and bought a restaurant with her husband. Karmen makes all of the breads for the restaurant along with pies, cheesecakes, macarons and other tasty desserts.
Nathaniel Reid is a pastry chef, consultant and educator based in St. Louis, MO. He has held pastry chef positions for many luxury brands including, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel and St. Regis Hotel.
Dessert Professional Magazine recognized him as one of the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America in June 2012. In 2010, he was selected as winner of the U.S. Pastry Competition and named Pastry Chef of the Year. In 2009 Nathaniel was awarded the “Golden Scoop Award” for the best chocolate confection in America.
A graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu, Paris with a Grand Diploma in Culinary and Pastry Arts, Reid specializes in contemporary bakery creations with a European flair.
Lou Rook has been the executive chef for Annie Gunn's in Chesterfield for 18 years, and has transformed Annie Gunn's from a little known local spot with good pub food, to a nationally recognized, Zagat award-winning restaurant with an outstanding wine list and consistently superb food.
Lou grew up in the restaurant business, beginning at the age of thirteen he helped in his family's diner, King Louie's in Wood River, Illinois. By the time he was sixteen, he was managing the restaurant himself, and establishing a thriving catering business. From that early experience, his career path was decided. He went to the University of Missouri, Columbia and graduated with a B.S. in Food Service and Lodging Management. He then attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Throughout college he worked at various restaurants and caterers, gaining as much practical experience as he could. He worked for two years at the Trellis restaurant in Williamsburg, VA under the tutelage of chef Marcel Desaulniers. He returned to St. Louis and worked as assistant chef at Cardwell's in Clayton and was chef-owner of Grappa in the Central West End. Lou has taught cooking classes at Kitchen Conservatory for over 20 years.
At Annie Gunn's, Lou offers hearty, American cuisine. He changes the menu on a monthly basis to incorporate the freshest quality ingredients, as well as seasonal produce. Lou uses the highest-quality, farm-fresh produce. Annie Gunn's has received numerous prestigious awards including Top Tables from Gourmet Magazine, the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine, and Lou and Annie Gunn's were featured on the Food Network's Taste of the Nation, representing the best restaurants in the Midwest. Lou was a James Beard nominee for the Best Chef in the Midwest. Married to his wife Shannon for 14 years, Lou has three daughters and resides in Wildwood.
Mark A. Sanfilippo
Mark A. Sanfilippo received a B.A. in German Literature as well as a B.A. in Philosophy
from the University of Missouri - Saint Louis. He then went on to earn his M.A.L.A.
in Philosophy from St. John's College in Santa Fe. He spent the next few years working
as a freelance writer in Los Angeles, before joining the culinary arts and landing
a Prep Manager position at Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton's three-star Pizzeria
Mozza. He worked his way up the ranks at the restaurant, and ultimately managed
a team of prep cooks, in addition to helping develop the restaurant's nascent salumi
program. At Mozza, Mark trained in the traditional Italian art of curing meats,
including guanciale, lardo, pancetta, coppa, and salami. Mark and his wife recently
relocated back to his hometown of St. Louis to start a small artisan salami company,
called Salume Beddu. He specializes in high-quality salumi, fresh salsiccia, and
other Italian delicacies. Salume Beddu is dedicated to utilizing hormone-free and
antibiotic-free locally-raised pork for their products.
Maria Sakellariou is a true lover of Mediterranean cuisine. After many years in
the corporate world, and living abroad in Greece, Belgium, and Switzerland, Maria
moved to Florida and joined her family in the restaurant business. In 2002 she moved
to St. Louis and expanded her love of cooking when she created and opened a
personal chef service, Culinary Odyssey LLC. Be sure to tap into Maria's
culinary genius by joining her in a class at Kitchen Conservatory (hint: her phyllo
classes are tops!).
Eric and Crystal Stevens
Eric Stevens has been the head farmer at La Vista CSA Farm since 2010. Eric has long been involved in the Organic gardening/farming movement. His wife, Crystal Stevens manages the greenhouse and handles communication aspects of the farm such as the website and the newsletter. They have two young children who love farm life.
They bring with them passion and knowledge of the plant world. Their specialties include native plants, medicinal herbs, companion planting and gourmet cooking with seasonal vegetables.
Together, they teach a variety of workshops on healthy seasonal cooking, sustainable farming, vermiculture, herbal remedies, foraging, companion planting, composting, and fermentation.
Eric and Crystal are both artists. Eric’s works include graphic designs and illustrations (www.ericstevens-designs.com). Crystal is a writer and contributes to Feast Magazine, The Healthy Planet, and a blogger with www.growingcreatinginspiring.blogspot.com, and blogs for Mother Earth News.
A veteran of the knife business, Clark Stone of Wusthof-Trident Cutlery teaches
great classes on how to choose, use, sharpen, and maintain knives at peak performance.
Participants in the knife classes learn confidence in using this most important
tool in the kitchen. Clark makes everyone feel comfortable with sharp knives.
DavidLee Szalanski began his culinary training in his family's kitchens, steeped in Polish food traditions, and his appreciation for good ethnic cuisine stayed with him through his travels and several careers. As a non-profit fundraiser, he had the unique opportunity to plan and orchestrate a high-end gala event, alongside the culinary team of Wolfgang Puck, who encouraged DavidLee to follow his natural passion as a culinarian. DavidLee began documenting his family's favorite food recipes through blogging, and in 2012, he enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu Collegeof Culinary Arts, where he pursued his formal culinary training. While at Le Cordon Bleu, he was a top student and a passionate campus leader, student ambassador, and chef-assistant for MasterChef classes. He was a member of Le Cordon Bleu's ACF Student Competition Team, and completed his culinary training doing an externship studying Caribbean cuisine on Captiva Island, Florida. Chef DavidLee is a Williams-Sonoma professional chef, and a personal chef.
Jason Tilford's resume of restaurants with his brother Adam, continues to grow and includes Barrister's in Clayton, Tortillaria in the Central West End, Milagro Modern Mexican in Webster Groves, and their newest endeavor will be in the Delmar Loop, with a working name of Mission fashioned after a San Francisco district known for its taquerias. Jason started teaching at Kitchen Conservatory in 2012, and shares his passion for fresh and authentic Mexican cuisine.
Qui Tran, of the popular Vietnamese restaurant, Mai Lee, moved to St. Louis in 1980 with his family, and his mother, Lee Tran, opened the restaurant in 1985 on Delmar Boulevard, and later moved it to the current location on Musick Memorial Drive. Qui can be found in the kitchen, at the front desk to greet diners, and out and about town promoting other chefs and restaurants.
A native of Paw Paw, Michigan, Kirk Warner began his restaurant career at a young
age. In his mother's small bistro adjacent to the family winery, he was both
waiting tables and preparing simple bistro fare before he was a teenager. Following
college, and after working in a variety of restaurants, traveling extensively and
reading every cookbook he could get his hands on, he landed in St. Louis where a
cousin had opened a tavern called King Louie's. In just over five years as executive
chef at King Louie's, he helped transform what was once a fledgling college bar
into one of the most respected restaurants in St. Louis. In the process, he garnered
numerous local and national accolades for both the restaurant and himself. Kirk
signed on to help open Savor in April 2004.
As chef-owner of Kirk's Traveling Kitchen, Kirk’s goal is to bring the craftsmanship
and dedication of a professional restaurant into the home kitchen for those who
love great food.
Robin Wheeler thought culinary school would be a great way to find a career in food writing. She never expected to be in the professional kitchen, but that’s where she finds herself more often than at her computer. After a six-year hiatus from catering and teaching culinary classes, she started Subterranean Homemade Foods in 2014. Her little business hosts underground dinners and food markets, and sells jams, jellies, pickles, fermented foods, and whatever happens to catch her fancy. She’s written for Sauce Magazine and The Riverfront Times’ Gut Check blog. These days she reviews restaurants for St. Louis Magazine with her tween daughter. (Photo by Corey Woodruff)
Lauren Wilmore, a dance teacher for our popular Dine and Dance class series, has taught a variety of social and ballroom dances in St. Louis for over a decade. She currently teaches at COCA and Flavor Dance Studio. In 2009 she co-founded her passion project, St. Louis Dancing Classrooms, which teaches ballroom dance to kids during the school day, as a way to give back to St. Louis which has nurtured and blessed her in so many ways! She loves to create new dance addicts one step or shimmy at a time!
Heather Young, general manager and barista at the Living Room, has been a three-time competitor in the ACF Culinary Competition, and has been the pastry assistant at St. Louis Country Club, and executive chef and kitchen manager at A Pizza Story.