Scroll below to learn more about the best chefs from the best local restaurants
that teach classes at Kitchen Conservatory.
Josh Allen, chef-owner of Companion Bakehouse, started his career in the San Francisco
Bay area working in small bakeshops. At the tender age of 24, Josh opened the doors
of Companion with a goal to provide the good folks of St. Louis with simple honest
food that tastes extraordinary. When he's not baking, Josh spends time with his
children, two great dogs, and close friends. Though his passion
is baking, he admits his guilty food pleasure is French fries with garlic! Chef
Allen teaches a bread class quarterly at Kitchen Conservatory which sells out every
time, so be sure to sign up early!
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.
Christy Augustin started baking pies and cookies at a young age with her grandmother and has been in love with sugar ever since. She attended both Saint Louis University and Florida Culinary Institute. Before opening Pint Size Bakery & Coffee in May, 2012, she had worked as the pastry chef at Sidney Street Cafe & King Louie's, taught at Le Cordon Bleu and earned her pastry chops in New Orleans and South Florida while working at restaurants, country clubs and hotels like the Ritz Carlton and Susan Spicer's Bayona.
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.
After serving nine years in the army, Price Barrett started his bread baking career with Wonder Bread of Interstate Breads Corporation, spending four years learning the business. Price has been with Companion Bakeshop since 2000, working his way up to Operations Manager, and is always introduced in classes at Kitchen Conservatory by Josh Allen as the head baker of Companion. Price wittily refers to himself as a "mix"ologist and a whip-cracker! The Crusty Bread class they teach together is one of our most popular classes, and always sells out!
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.
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
Mike Craig is from Charleston, Illinois and moved to St. Louis in 2003. Mike is a graduate of the Culinary School at Forest Park Community College, and has worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens in St. Louis, including Norwood Hills Country Club, Taste by Niche, and The Crossing.
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)
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio Jeff Davis moved to St. Louis at a very young age. He
was fascinated with following his culinary path after graduating from Ladue Horton Watkins
High School, class of 1991. Since then, Jeff has been an accomplished self-taught Executive
Chef with over 23 years of strong culinary experience and management skills. Jeff has a unique
blend of creative flair and passion for food, with strong business sense and engaging
Jeff was Executive Chef at Café Napoli, one of the most well-known Italian restaurants in
St. Louis, from 1995-2014. Jeff is currently at The Ritz Carlton in Clayton working in all areas
such as the outlet kitchen, garde manger, and banquets. He has also been a part of numerous
charity events for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and teaching cooking classes at The Kitchen
Conservatory since 2000 and Dierbergs in 2010. Jeff has been featured in local magazines such as St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles and Metro Mix. “Being the man
behind the food at any top restaurant is serious business; it takes a lot of long, hard, hot hours
in the kitchen to make a meal sing.”
Chef Jay Dedkard, 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.
Chelsea Reyne DeShetler graduated from Kendall College in Chicago 2008. A woman who is not afraid to take what life has to offer, Chelsea started off in Chicago as a head baker. She then left the city life to finesse her techniques lakeside in Branson MO, as wedding cake decorator for Big Cedar Lodge and then worked as the pastry chef at Truffles in Ladue. Currently she aims her pastries to give fellow St. Louisans a taste of nostalgia with every bite with her new business, "Chelsea's Delicacies."
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.
Daniel Drake – better known by his absurd culinary moniker ‘Doctor Dan the Pancake Man’ – did NOT see himself becoming ‘The World’s First Professional Pancake Artist’. In fact, six years ago, when he began pouring silly faces and odd shapes into pancakes at his frycook day job, he regularly laughed off suggestions that he could turn his odd talents into a business.
Fast forward a half decade: Images of his work have spread like wildfire across the internet, thanks to a fortuitous encounter with a creative friend and a series of increasingly popular posts on the well-known imageboard, Reddit. The Reddit posts became Buzzfeed lists and Yahoo! News clips, and eventually, a call from a producer on NBC’s The Today Show. Since his appearance on The Today Show, Drake has been profiled in countless media outlets, from Viralnova and The Riverfront Times, to Fox News, KSDK Channel 5, the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, FEAST Magazine, St. Louis Magazine, The Steve Harvey Show, and more. He has taken up a residency at the beautiful Corvid’s Café in South Saint Louis (5001 Mardel Avenue) as a part of their fabulous Sunday Brunch, and rents his time out as a performer/caterer to private parties, business events, weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, and really, anywhere else.
Drake also performs as the frontman and lead lyricist behind the megahip pop-rock experiment Psych Squared, he freelances as a graphic designer, and illustrates and self-publishes his own line of comic books, featuring characters of his own design as well as members of his band. He spends his free time writing songs, sketching humorous videos with his best friend and creative conspirator Henry ‘Hank’ Gustafson (who also plays bass with their band), and enjoying his absurd twist of good fortune.
“The rule is, I’ll never turn down a request,” he says of his pancake art.
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.
Helen Fletcher is an accomplished cook, baker, and writer who has been teaching engaging and decadent cooking classes for decades. She specializes in beautiful and delicious cakes, pastries, and other desserts. For 25 years, Helen operated Truffles, a wholesale bakery which featured upscale cakes and pastries, plus gorgeous wedding cakes. From 2001-2007, Truffles had a retail gourmet take-out shop that sold handmade entrees, soups, and salads, in addition to her famous desserts.
Helen Fletcher's first love is writing about food. Her blog, Pastries Like a Pro www.pastrieslikeapro.com , features many exciting recipes that she has developed and perfected, plus beautiful food photography from her husband, who is a professional photographer. She published The New
Pastry Cook in 1986. She has written articles for Bon Appetit, Chocolatier, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was a consultant for Cuisinart and developed several amazing recipes for food processors, including her famous 60-second brioche.
Helen is the pastry chef at Tony's, and her love of teaching is equaled by her enthusiasm for all things food.
She considers it a privilege to teach at Kitchen Conservatory.
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.
Father Dominic Garramone
Father Dominic Garramone, OSB is a monk of Saint Bede Abbey in Peru, IL. He was the host of the PBS cooking show “Breaking Bread with Father Dominic” from 1999 to 2001, and has written six cookbooks. His newest book, a beginner’s baking book titled How to Be a Breadhead, is available at Kitchen Conservatory from Reedy Press. Fr. Dom says he got his culinary education “between my mother’s kitchen, PBS and the public library” and when not baking or teaching can usually be found in the abbey herb garden.
Jessie Gilroy, chef de cuisine at Cucina Pazzo in the Central West End, and a 2015 Sauce Magazine “Ones to Watch”. Jessie got her culinary skills from Le Cordon Bleu in Miami, Florida, and Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill before landing a job with the OG Hospitality Group, that owns Cucina Pazzo, The Tavern Kitchen and Bar, The Shack, and The Corner Pub and Grill.
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.
Rebeca Davila Graboyes
Rebeca Davila Graboyes is a native of St. Louis who specializes in decorating cookies and cupcake classes. She started medical school, but after realizing that her true passion was in education, she earned a Master's degree in special education from St. Louis University. She is now completing her teaching certificate in secondary biology. Rebeca frosted many cupcakes at the Cup in the Central West End before joining the Kitchen Conservatory family. She loves the way cooking and baking allow her to fuse her artistic and creative talents, and has shared a number of her baking and decorating tips with students. Through her vegetarian husband, Rebeca has expanded her repertoire of delicious vegetable dishes. In her free time, she stays busy by catching up on the latest issue of Fine Cooking magazine and sampling new local foods.
"Find something you love to do, and you'll never have to work a day in your life" - Harvey McKay
One of Senada Grbic's earliest memories of cooking was at the age of three or four years old sitting on the kitchen counter helping her mother cook dinner. Senada's parents moved to America in the 1970s from the former Yugoslavia and brought a heritage of butchery and cooking. Her mother graduated cooking school in Bosnia. Grbic's Restaurant was a surprise Valentine gift to Senada's mother, and became a reality in 2002. Senada graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago in 2009, and returned to St. Louis to be the executive chef at Grbic's, truly a family-run business. Senada's father, Sulejman is still the butcher, and her mother, Ermina, continues to run the kitchen. Senada is passionate about all of the culinary riches of the world, but especially to her roots of Eastern Europe.
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.
Nate Hereford, chef de cuisine at Niche, grew up in Massachusetts and is an anthropology graduate of the University of Vermont. Nate attended the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, and worked at several Chicago restaurants, including Bonsoiree, Graham Elliot, and Moto. Nate has been with Niche since 2009 and is currently the chef de cuisine.
Amy Hubbard found her health and her life's passion when she learned the ways of traditional food cooking. She embarked on her journey of becoming a master's level, clinical nutritionist, shortly thereafter. Amy currently works with and educates individuals and families on how to heal, using delicious food as medicine. Her approach goes beyond paleo to truly nourish and heal the body.
Chicago native Andrew Jennrich has graced St. Louis kitchens starting as the sous chef at Farmhaus, chef de cuisine at Truffles and The Butchery in Ladue, and is currently at Annie Gunn’s Smokehouse Market.
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, is a chef instructor at Kitchen Conservatory, and the executive chef at Chaumette Winery. Adam uses local foods whenever possible and is a big supporter of the Mississippi River Hills Association, of which Chaumette Winery is a member, comprised of local food producers, wineries and craftspeople to further promote the local products of our region. Adam also works closely with Chaumette’s horticulturist to cultivate herbs and other produce for use in his menus.
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.
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.)
Rick Lewis, executive chef of the popular Southern, is a 2014 James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year and named the inaugural 2014 Chef of the Year by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Rick learned his culinary craft in the kitchens of his mother, Dulany’s, LoRusso’s Cucina, Quincy Street Bistro, and with mentor Josh Galliano at An American Place and Monarch.
Lauren Loomis (aka Lulu) and her husband, Robert, own and operate Lulu's Local Eatery, a food truck with a rooftop herb garden! Lulu's specializes in serving globally-inspired vegetarian and vegan recipes using local and organic ingredients whenever possible. Their knowledge and passion for plant-based cuisine was enhanced by living and working on organic farms in Australia and New Zealand. Lulu's Local Eatery was voted Sauce Magazine Reader's Choice Favorite Food Truck in 2013 and received a four star certification in sustainability from the Green Dining Alliance. Lulu is most passionate about changing peoples' minds about vegetables. Her daily mission is to help people understand how delicious and hearty plant-based foods can be! Lulu has taught classes at Local Harvest Cafe and is a featured freelance writer for ALIVE Magazine.
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.
Danielle Luisi grew up in Staten Island, NY and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America with a Bachelor's degree in Baking and Pastry in 2006. She moved to St. Louis in 2006 and has worked for places such as Companion, Dierberg's, Sarah's Cafe, has taught at Forest Park Community College, and is now the Pastry Chef at Annie Gunn'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, and currently the executive chef at Joe Buck’s Downtown. 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.
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.
Neville McNaughton's career started on a 30-cow dairy farm in Riverton New Zealand where his father as a Director of the local Dairy Cheese Factory. No coincidence that Neville gravitated to another local Dairy operation when he graduated High School in 1972. In 1977, Neville graduated from Massey University in Palmerstone North with a Diploma in Dairy Technology. In 1975 Neville had commenced employment with The New Zealand Cooperative Rennet Company as a Cheesemaker, it was here that his extensive knowledge of cheese began. Having moved from a Conventional Cheddar Cheese plant it was hear that he gained knowledge in Blue, Havarti, Danbo, Gouda, Edam, Emmental, Romano, Feta, Parmesan and Process Cheese. When Neville departed this company in 1975 sales had increased 600% and he was managing 55 people. But the entrepreneurial spirit saw him team up with Ross McCallum in 1983 and begin what was to become a bellwether operation for the New Zealand Dairy Industry. Kapiti Cheese became New Zealand's premier brand for specialty cheese in the 1980s and 1990s and achieved sales of nearly $25 million prior to being sold in 2003. In the USA Neville has held various positions with The New Zealand Dairy Board, Marin French Cheese, Imperial Biotechnology, Innovative Ingredients and since 2001 has operated CheezSorce, L.L.C. a consulting company providing technical services to the emerging and existing cheesemakers in North America. Neville is a member of the board of directors for the American Cheese Society (www.cheesesociety.org) and has a contract with the DBIC (Dairy Business Innovation Center) since its inception.
Jesse Mendica, a Webster Groves native, has been executive
sous chef at the award-winning Annie Gunn's restaurant since
2007. She has 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
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.
Following multiple bakery jobs in San Diego, Portland, Oregon, and Cincinnati ranging from mass bread production to decorating wedding cakes, Sarah Mispagel moved to Chicago in 2010 and took on her first restaurant job at MK serving as pastry chef Tony Galzin’s assistant. Under Galzin, Mispagel transitioned her baking skills to focusing on local flavors, elevated techniques, and fine-tuned plating. Next, Mispagel went to work as pastry sous at the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, working with Jean Banchet award-winning pastry chef Leigh Omilinsky, honing her skills on both celebrated French classics and innovative, cutting-edge sweets. In 2013, she landed at Nightwood to helm the pastry program with Cochon 555 national championship-winning, Food & Wine best new chef Jason Vincent. In summer of 2015, she made the move to St. Louis, and is currently the pastry chef at 801 Fish in Clayton.
Mispagel was nominated for a Jean Banchet award for Rising Star Pastry Chef in 2014. She is an Eater Young Gun semi finalist. She has been featured twice by the Chicago Tribune, spotlighting pastry chefs to watch, and her recipes have been published in Who’s Hungry? Magazine and Middle West Magazine.
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.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Clara Moore has enjoyed a diverse culinary career so far. She started working at Duff's at just age 16 as a busser. There she learned the culinary basics under the guidance of the talented Jim Voss, who imparted the value of utilizing seasonal and local produce. Driven by food and cooking, Moore went to culinary school in Baltimore and learned Mexican Cooking in Guanajuato, Mexico. During her time living in St. Louis she has worked at Trattoria Marcella, Mangia Italiano, and found an exceptional opportunity in opening Local Harvest Cafe and Catering in 2008, where she realized her dream of working with local, small farm produce and artisan products for over 5 years. Co-author of Shop Like a Chef - a guidebook on food shopping in St. Louis, Clara is currently living in Maine but returns to St. Louis to teach classes and visit family and friends.
After a corporate career, three babies, and a stint as a stay-at-home mom, Leslie Moore decided to pursue a personal passion - getting more good meat onto more city plates. Leslie is a 4th generation farm kid that grew-up eating clean, healthy, yummy meat, raised right on her family’s farm. She moved to the city and discovered that she still had access to wholesome meat from a small farm to nourish herself and loved ones all the time. She started Farmer Girl to give city dwellers unfettered access to farm fresh meats that are nutritious and delicious.
Denise Mueller, of St. Louis School of Wine, is a Certified Sommelier and Certified Specialist of Wine, and is currently studying for her Advanced Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. She is also studying for the French Wine Scholar program. Denise is the Sommelier/Manager at The Dark Room in Grand Center, and had previously strengthened her business savvy working as Beverage Manager for Robust Wine Bars in Illinois and Missouri, participating in management, beverage program, event planning, and staff education. Denise has a degree in Mass Communications and Advertising from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Denise participates as an active member of the United States Bartenders Guild and is an active member of the St. Louis branch of the American Wine Society, participating as an event instructor. In her “spare time”, Denise enjoys running Tower Grove Park, experiencing new restaurants, and relaxing at home with her chihuahuas Maximus and Katharine Hepburn.
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.
Wil Pelly started cooking as a youth, watching his Cuban-born mother and grandmother in the home kitchen, using his passion for these Latin roots to create unique spins on Spanish dishes. At age 17, Wil started working at local St. Louis restaurants and worked his way from bus boy, waiter, line cook, executive chef of Sanctuaria, Diablitos, Hendrick’s BBQ, and Cafe Ventana, and is currently part of the culinary team at Sugarfire Smoke House.
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.
Vito Racanelli Jr. says, "Food has been my life since I was a little boy. My parents are from Italy and I was very blessed to grow up around traditional, homemade, fresh Italian food."
Chef Vito's passion is to cook with fresh, local ingredients. His love for food is apparent in the artistic, inspired dishes that he creates. A native New Yorker, Vito is a graduate of the prestigious Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island and has been cooking for over 20 years. His culinary background includes the Le Parker-Meridian in Manhattan, and the Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis. He has a fun, passionate, kind-hearted attitude. "I love food; it is so much of my life and soul." Vito was the chef-owner of Mad Tomato in Clayton, MO, which opened in May 2011.
Chef Vito has been voted one of Sauce Magazine's Best Chefs, and has received numerous awards for his restaurant Mad Tomato, including: St. Louis Magazine Best New Restaurant, RFT Best Italian Restaurant, Sauce Magazine Favorite Italian Resturant, and Alive Magazine Best New Restaurant. Vito has recently been nominated by his peers, and chosen to be published in this year's book, "Best Chefs America." Vito is the Executive Chef of The Taste of St. Louis, managing the culinary stage and chef culinary battles. He also spends time regularly at Kitchen Conservatory, where he teaches Italian and pasta-making classes. Every December his mother helps him teach a cooking class in honor of their family Christmas traditions. Vito and his wife Amy Racanelli share a passion for cooking, travel, culture, and spirituality. They are both involved in the planning of a vocational school with the organization Send Me. They will be traveling to Guatemala in January 2014, with other members of their church, to assist in the construction and development of the school.
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.
Cookbook author and St. Louis native Laura Byrne Russell took her very first cooking class at Kitchen Conservatory in the early 1990s. Later, after attending culinary school in Chicago, Laura spent four years as a recipe developer in the test kitchen at Food & Wine magazine. After switching to a gluten-free diet in 2007, Laura now focus exclusively on gluten-free recipes as the gluten-free columnist for the Oregonian, author of The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen, and her new cookbook, Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables. You can also find her recipes in many magazines, including Prevention, Easy Eats, Living Without, NW Palate, and Portland's MIX magazine.
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!).
Kat Schonberg-Hamar is a Seattle Culinary Academy graduate focused on encouraging healthy, sustainable food choices for everyone, but especially school lunch programs. Living in Seattle gives her the perfect opportunity to cook with her favorite ingredients: fresh seafood! When she's not in the kitchen she works as a commercial salmon fisherman in Alaska and sees personally the necessity of protecting the integrity of our food supply. In her off season from fishing she prowls Farmers Markets and food festivals for anything fresh, new, and unique to taste.
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.
Brenda Vanden Bos
Brenda Vanden Bos is a native of the Sacramento, California area. Her love for food and cooking started while she grew up on her family's farm. She spent her childhood learning to prepare meals using fresh, garden-grown produce and farm-raised meats. This love for food carried her into the food industry after high school. Brenda graduated from New England Culinary Institute. From there, Brenda's culinary adventures led her to work in a number of interesting places including Napa Valley, on a catamaran sailing to Micronesia, with an Indy car team, and most recently in Saratoga Springs, NY. Brenda also spent six years working at Kitchen Conservatory starting in 1998. While at Kitchen Conservatory, she managed the school and store along with teaching several classes. Today, Brenda focuses her cooking talents on feeding her husband and three hungry kids. She believes cooking does not have to be complicated and likes to teach things that people can try at home. And, yes, your kids can eat food other than pizza and chicken nuggets and like it.
Chef Cassy Vires is the head chef at Juniper. She received her culinary training in Houston, Texas at The Art Institute. There she gained an appreciation of American cuisine as a true melting pot of cultures, traditions, ingredients and techniques. Since then, she has put her talent to work as a chef, instructor and food writer. During her time at The Viking Cooking School, she was able to expand her technical knowledge while also finding a way to adapt classic techniques to the home cook. Since then, she has used the same philosophy as a monthly columnist for Feast Magazine, for which she was nominated for a James Beard Award. Her knack for recreating dishes people know and love comes across on her menu as she re-imagines American classics like pulled pork, BLT and her award-winning grilled cheese sandwich. (Photo courtesy of Feast Magazine.)
Phatcharin Wanna and Saengwan Paisley
Saengwan Paisley and Phatcharin Wanna are from Chiang Mai Thailand. In 2012, the mother and daughter opened Fork & Stix Restaurant, specializing in Northern Thai food.
Raised in a family rife with food traditions, Kevin Warner is a local foods advocate and avid home cook. He works as Project Manager at Fair Shares CCSA, a community-supported agriculture business that sources food from over 75 St. Louis-area farmers and artisanal food producers for a membership of over 450 families. As a Slow Food St. Louis board member, Kevin is a co-creator of the St. Louis Farm to Table Food Loop, helping to better define and promote the St. Louis foodshed.
Kevin has a Bachelor’s Degree in Opera Performance, and when he is not cooking or working with area farmers, he can be heard singing in various choral and solo settings around the city.
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)
Bob Zugmaier started working at Sidney Street Cafe halfway through culinary school at L'Ecole Culinaire in 2009 as a line cook, and in 2012 became the pastry chef. Bob has very creative and innovative plated desserts at Sidney Street.