Current Schedule Chef-Instructors

Our Chef-Instructors come from a wide variety of culinary backgrounds, resulting in classes that are diverse and stimulating. We offer classes with well-known chefs from successful restaurants, cookbook authors, caterers and private chefs, wine experts, food purveyors, and other culinary authorities. In alphabetical order:

Bruce Aidells is the founder of Aidells Sausage Company, television host and award-winning author of twelve cookbooks, including the IACP Julia Child award-winning Hot Links and Country Flavors, James Beard Award nominees The Complete Meat Cookbook and Bruce Aidells’s Complete Book of Pork, and his most recent The Great Meat Cookbook: Everything you Need to Know to Buy and Cook Today’s Meat. Bruce is widely known as an expert in all things "meat" and regularly contributes to numerous publications, including Cooking Light, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, and Food & Wine, and has appeared as an expert chef on the LiveWell Network, Today and Martha Stewart Living.

Bruce Aidells

Many refer to Chef John Ash as the “Father of Wine Country Cuisine”.  In 1980 he opened his namesake restaurant, John Ash & Company, in Santa Rosa. It was the first restaurant in Northern California wine country to focus on local, seasonal ingredients used to create dishes that complemented the wines being made in the region. Nationally renowned as a wine and food educator, Chef John is an adjunct professor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, has hosted two shows on the Food Network, and has co-hosted a radio show for more than 27 years on KSRO 1350AM. John has written four books including the From the Earth to the Table: John Ash’s Wine Country Cuisine, American Game Cooking, and the James Beard Award Winning John Ash Cooking One-on-One: Private Lessons in Simple Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher. Just this year, Chef John won another James Beard Award for his latest book Culinary Birds.  

In 2008 John was voted “Cooking School Teacher of the Year” by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.  He served for many years on the Board of the Chef’s Collaborative, a national organization of chef’s committed to sustainable and ethical food issues.  He has also served on the Board of Advisors of Seafood Watch, an educational initiative for sustainable seafood by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  In 2014 the Aquarium named him “Seafood Educator of the Year” at their annual Cooking for Solutions gathering.

Manuel Azevedo's dream is to champion Portuguese cuisine throughout the United States and beyond. This dream was born at an early age when he would assist his mother as she prepared recipes from their former home in the Azores Islands. At the unemployable age of fourteen, he finagled his way into a dishwasher’s position at a local restaurant; by sixteen, he was a head cook. During the following years, Manuel worked every position a restaurant offered him, from the front to the back of house. When the opportunity came to open his own restaurant in 1998, Manuel followed his passion for Portuguese cuisine and named the restaurant after his mother LaSalette. Manuel is known for “Cozinha Nova Portuguesa” (New Portuguese cuisine) dishes as featured in his LaSalette Cookbook, a culmination of years of fine tuning his craft. Most recently, he and his sister Lucia opened Cafe Lucia in Healdsburg.

Manuel Azevedo

Scott Beattie

When Scott Beattie moved to Healdsburg in early 2005 to develop the bar program for the acclaimed Cyrus Restaurant, he became immediately enthralled with the goods available at Healdsburg’s weekly farmers’ markets. Scott's book, Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus, published in 2008 by Ten Speed Press, reflected his leading-edge approach to seasonal cocktails. Since his days at Cyrus, Scott has founded a cocktail catering company HMS Cocktail and created a bar program focused on updated cocktail classics at the newly opened spoonbar! in the h2hotel in Healdsburg.

The Beverage People is a family owned and operated retail and mailorder store, in business for almost 30 years right here in beautiful Sonoma County. The Beverage People staff are experienced, knowledgable, and enthusiastic about all your fermentation hobbies. The Beverage People founders broke ground for the good beer movement in the 1970's by searching out products for home use and teaching thousands of customers how to make great beer, mead, wine, and now cheese, at home. The Beverage People website and catalogs feature all the equipment and ingredients needed to craft these goodies at home.

Carrie Brown owns the landmark Jimtown Store, located in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley, celebrated for its lusty country cooking and reinterpreted American desserts. Carrie is the coauthor of The Jimtown Store Cookbook, Recipes from Sonoma County’s Favorite Market that includes 150 of Jimtown’s earthy, full-flavored recipes with a special emphasis on stylish, casual entertaining. Carrie’s unique style and recipes have been featured in countless publications including Country Home, House & Garden, Food & Wine, and Sunset, and on television’s Martha Stewart Living and Food TV’s Ultimate Kitchen. Carrie is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic instructor who loves to share her creative and stylish entertaining and presentation ideas.

Peter Brown started cooking in his hometown of Honolulu in a neighborhood deli at the age of 16. He attended the Natural Gourmet Cookery School in New York City and interned at famed Hawaii chef Roy Yamaguchi’s restaurant in Manhattan. After a variety of stints in New York, he stayed in Healdsburg during a visit to the California wine country, ending up with a job at Santi Restaurant in Geyserville where he worked under former Jordan Winery chefs Tom Odin and Franco Dunn. A bit homesick he returned to Hawaii and worked under Chef Hiroshi Fukui at L’Uraku restaurant, then traveled the world as the personal chef to famed Irish dancer Michael Flatley. Peter returned to Healdsburg to master his skills, immersing himself once again in the copious bounty of wine and ingredients in Sonoma county, becoming the chef at the Jimtown Store in October 2007.

Although Dino Bugica was born in Reno, Nevada he still considers himself a "transplant" from Pisa, Italy. He grew up with the influence of his Italian mother and grandmother always cooking with fresh ingredients from his grandfather's ranch and farm. At 18, his passion for food and his heritage took him back to Italy where he lived and cooked for seven years, including stints at three restaurants, a Dutch chocolate maker and a butcher shop and salumerie. As the co-owner and chef at Diavola Pizzeria in Geyserville, Dino is passionate about authentic, old world Italian cuisine where everything from the pizza to the salumi and sausages is made from scratch.

After graduating from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Tracey Shepos Cenami spent some time in New York before returning to San Francisco where she worked at notable restaurants including 2223, Fly Bar and Restaurant, and Lulu Catering and Harvest Grill. In 2002 Shepos participated in opening Willi’s Wine Bar in Santa Rosa as sous chef and was soon promoted to chef de cuisine. Over the next six years Tracey assisted in the opening of three more restaurants for Stark Reality Restaurants as the Executive Chef de Cuisine of the company. In late 2009 she resigned from the company she considers her extended family to pursue chef consulting opportunities as well as become a Certified Artisan Cheesemaker.  She strives to combine new and unusual, as well as local, ingredients with classic cooking techniques to create updated comfort foods. Her specialties are Mediterranean, particularly Italian and Spanish, and she enjoys working with artisan cheese.

Maria Clementi has over 15 years of hands-on experience working in professional kitchens.  With a strong enthusiasm for fresh, seasonal foods, she savors teaching alternative cooking techniques to the seasoned chef, as well as those new to the kitchen.  Her most treasured experiences were gained exploring the world to work, study, and seek the guidance of leaders in the plant-based culinary arts. From the mystical cliff-lined shores of Oregon to the Michelin starred streets of Berlin, she experienced life and culture through real, honest food. As a result of extensive travel, life-schooling, cooking, and now teaching, she believes you don’t need to sacrifice outstanding taste for health. Maria is currently the Health Education Specialist at Whole Foods in Santa Rosa.

Deborah Dal Fovo

Deborah Dal Fovo is an accomplished Italian chef and culinary food and wine expert who mastered her culinary education hands-on while living in Italy for 20 years. Now based in the San Francisco Bay area, Deborah shares her vast Italian experience working as a private chef, cooking instructor and enthusiastic Italian ambassador of good taste. She appears frequently as guest chef on television shows, including The View from the Bay and Good Cookin' with Bruce Aidells, and is currently writing a cookbook and developing her own cooking show concept.

Watch Chef Deborah make Nona's Italian Apple Cake

Franco Dunn's career as a professional chef started with Jordan Winery where he was Executive Chef for five and a half years. He lived in Italy for two and a half years where he worked in fourteen different restaurants. Among these were two Michelin three star restaurants, a two star, and a one star, and many excellent trattorias. Franco started Santi Restaurant in Geyserville with his long time friend Thomas Oden where he was co-chef for five and a half years. He is currently chef emeritus at Santi.


After a 30 year career building high-tech telecommunications equipment, it occurred to Dave Ehreth that now people telecommunicate with each other, the next thing they’d need would be a really good pickle. Combining a lifelong passion for food with his hobby of making pickles in the summer from cucumbers grown in his garden, Dave started Alexander Valley Gourmet maker of barrel-fermented pickles and raw sauerkraut. Dave's products have been featured in Food and Wine and 7x7 magazines, and he recently served his raw sauerkraut at Slow Food Nation. Today, Alexander Valley Gourmet provides a variety of all-natural pickles to stores and restaurants throughout the West.

John Franchetti is co-owner and chef at Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar in Santa Rosa. A Sonoma County native, John graduated from USF/Johnson & Wales before working in kitchens at Commander’s Palace and Emeril’s in New Orleans with Emeril Lagasse and the Mission Lodge and Gesine’s Restaurant in Alaska where he was voted best chef two years in a row. Chef John was manning the pizza oven at Pizzeria Tra Vigne when he met future business partner Kevin Cronin in 2005 and ideas for a joint venture were conceived. Two years later, Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar opened and since then has garnered amazing reviews for its wood-fired pizzas and piadines.

Christopher Greenwald is a maverick chef who has cooked in California’s wine country since 1998. From the Chez Panisse-sponsored garden project at the Sierra Youth Center to multi-course, pinot noir soaked soirees at Iron Horse to intimate VIP receptions for some of the biggest names in rock and roll, chef Christopher provides a unique and exciting forum for the palate. As the Chef/Owner of Bay Laurel Culinary, Chef Greenwald continues to combine his years of experience in the kitchen and on the farm with his passion for travel and different cultures, presenting wine-friendly global comfort cuisine that is both casual and elegant.
Kathy Gunst is a freelance writer, editor and radio personality living in Maine. She is the author of fifteen cookbooks, including Stonewall Kitchen Favorites and Stonewall Kitchen Harvest (best American Cookbook 2005). Kathy is a graduate of the London Cordon Bleu School of Cookery and a former culinary editor at Food & Wine magazine. She has been a contributing editor at Parenting Magazine and has written for the New York Times; Travel & Leisure; Bon Appétit; the Los Angeles Times; Better Homes and Gardens; O, The Oprah Magazine; Country Living; and the Boston Globe. Since 2000, she has been the "Resident Chef" for the award-winning show Here and Now on WBUR National Public Radio. She just published two new books—Stonewall Kitchen Grilling and Stonewall Kitchen Appetizers (Chronicle Books, September 2010). She is currently teaching classes at the new Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School and working on a food memoir.

Jennifer Harris

Jennifer Harris is a self described Bacteria Advocate and traditional preserver. Discovering that "good bacteria" is necessary for our health, Jennifer set out on a mission to learn to preserve traditionally long before it became a culinary DIY trend. A big supporter of local farms and farmers, you can find Jennifer out at a farm, gleaning produce, creating the first annual Kraut-a-palooza or just spreading the gospel of fermentation. Jennifer supplies traditional beverages and seasonal fermets for the The Farmer's Wife, pours at the Fermentation Bar at Shed, and is the coordinator of the annual Farm to Fermentation Festival. Read more about Jennifer and the Fermentation Festival in this Bite Club Eats post.

Louella Hill loves making cheese. Years ago, while on a sheep farm in Italy during a college year abroad from Brown, it dawned on her that she could actually make cheese as a profession, could be a part of the process all the way from grass to dinner plate. Since then, she's only continued to fall more in love with this art form. Before moving to San Francisco, Louella was a community organizer and advocate for sustainable food in Rhode Island where she organized farmers’ markets, food forums, cheese apprenticeships, potato shipments, media blitzes, label printings, and more. Currently, Louella offers classes and lessons in DIY cheese making through SF Milk Maid, and hosts a very entertaining cheese blog called Milk and Mold about her cheese making adventures.

Louella Hill

Lia Huber is the founder and CEO of the rich-content website Nourish Network and its companion small-group coaching program, My Nourish Mentor. Lia is also a widely published food writer and recipe developer for magazines like Cooking Light, Prevention and Health, and a rising food and nutrition personality both on-screen and in-person. In any format she tackles, Lia brings passion—and fun—to her message of nourishing body, soul and planet with every bite.

Michele Anna Jordan writes three popular columns about food and wine in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, is a regular contributor to The Wine Enthusiast and has written nearly 20 books to date, including her most recent Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings.  She hosts two radio shows, “Mouthful, the Wine Country’s Most Delicious Hour” and “Red Shoes Rodeo.”  Mouthful is available as a podcast at itunes and at Michele worked as a chef for many years and was a restaurant critic, including for the San Francisco Chronicle, for fifteen years.  She has won numerous awards for both her cooking and her writing, including a James Beard Award. Currently, she writes full time, teaches, cooks for family and friends and studies traditional Hawaiian dance.  She is (always!) at work on several new books.

Michele Anna Jordan

Mei Ibach was born in a small, Malaysia fishing Village near Singapore where she learned the secrets of cooking fresh, seasonal cuisine from members of her extended Chinese family while growing up. She gathered her own spices, grew her own vegetables and grilled the catch of the day over an open fire.  In Sonoma County, she has worked in a variety of Asian kitchens, including Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Pacific Rim restaurants.  More recently, she has shared her professional techniques and authentic recipes at Santa Rosa Junior College Culinary Arts program and through her business Malaysia Mei, offering catering services and culinary tours through Asia. Her passions include Dim Sum and Tea, cooking with children and showcasing artisan ingredients from local farms and purveyors.

Shelly Kaldunski received her culinary degree from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. She worked as the Executive Pastry Chef at Charles Nob Hill restaurant, San Francisco, and The Inn at Little Washington, Virginia. Shelly then shifted gears to publishing, working for Martha Stewart Omnimedia developing, writing and food styling the Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook along with writing and editing stories for Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings. Shelly returned to the west coast in 2005 and now works as a freelance food stylist, baking and pastry instructor, and cookbook author, publishing four books for Williams Sonoma: Cupcakes, Sweet Scoops, The Art of the Cookie and Ice Pops.

Shelly Kaldunski

Chef Todd Knoll

Chef Todd Knoll joined Jordan Vineyard & Winery in 2003 as chef de cuisine and was promoted to executive chef in 2007. Chef Todd oversees the entire culinary program which includes preparing exquisite tastes daily for winery guests, cooking renowned meals for trade guests and special events, managing the beautiful estate garden and more. Chef Todd was raised in Hawaii and draws inspiration from his childhood home and Asia when creating menus for Jordan. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Chef Todd worked at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco before joining Jordan.

Chef Laura Lee has a wealth of knowledge and experience in restaurants, catering and culinary instruction that stretches over 2 decades. She started her career in the restaurant industry, opening catering businesses, restaurants and a restaurant consulting business. In 1995 Chef Laura turned her attention to teaching and spent the next 5 years with Home Chef Cooking School as an Instructor and Manager of Curriculum Development. An interest food and wine pairing brought Chef Lee to the wine country where she worked first as the Chef de Cuisine at Simi Winery and later provided wine-centric catering for other exclusive wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties, including Signorello Vineyards in Napa. Laura Lee is a Chef with an eye on the future of the culinary industry.  She has a  sincere commitment to create food that empowers people  with the knowledge that every food choice they make has an impact on the health and sustainability of our world.

Chef Laura Lee

Shane McAnelly

Chef Shane McAnelly has a culinary approach distinctly focused on ingredients and seasonality. A Bay Area native, Shane has worked in sous chef and chef de cuisine positions at Garibaldi’s restaurant in Oakland, the executive sous chef role with the opening team at Zero Zero in SF under Bruce Hill, and the executive chef position at Va de Vi restaurant in Walnut Creek, named a Bay Area Top 100 restaurant by the San Francisco Chronicle. Shane moved his family to Healdsburg in 2013 to be the executive chef at Chalkboard where he has been involved in every aspect of bringing the restaurant to life, from creating a bright, modern space for diners to developing a menu that’s reflective of his years invested in cooking the best ingredients that the Bay Area has to offer.

Chef Louis Maldonado attended the California Culinary Academy, beginning his career in the high-wattage kitchen of One Market, moving on as sous chef and co-executive chef at Cortez, which was awarded a Michelin star during Maldonado’s tenure. After stops at the famed French Laundry and Café Majestic, where he was named “Rising Star Chef” by San Francisco Chronicle, Maldonado worked for three years as chef de cuisine at the Michelin starred Aziza. Maldonado’s move to Spoonbar marks a return to his roots. He’s closer to his family in Ukiah, and closer to the seasonal, market-driven cuisine that’s his passion. Now, he combines the craft he’s perfected with the art of the plate in the inspiring dishes he creates for Spoonbar.

Louis Maldonado

Jeff Mall is the Executive Chef at ZIN Restaurant and Wine Bar. Jeff attended the University of San Francisco where he earned a degree in Hospitality Management. He then went on graduate from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Jeff moved back to Northern California and began working with chef/mentors of different disciplines, such as, Jeremiah Tower and Mark Franz at Stars Oakville Café, Bradley Ogden at Lark Creek/Walnut Creek, and Anne and David Gingrass at Hawthorne Lane in San Francisco. This variety of experience helped Jeff to develop his own vision for ZIN, featuring updated and enhanced American home cooking and farm fresh produce much of it from his own Eastside Farm).

Susan Mall attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and went on to work at some pretty great places in San Francisco. In LA, she worked for a combination of restaurants and catering companies, and found that she enjoyed the pace of catering much more than that of restaurants. In 1998 Susan moved to Healdsburg to run the kitchen at Oakville Grocery where she met Jeff. About six years ago they started farming and created Eastside Farm. Two years ago they were given 13 chickens which have multiplied to more than 100. Susan's alter-ego Chicken Mama shares her chicken and other farm escapades on her Eastside Farm Chronicles blog. She shares her expertise through backyard chicken classes to Slow Food members and other locals.

Susan Mall

Chef Ciara Meaney

Classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California, Ciara Meaney has been involved with food since her early days.  A native of Dublin, Ireland, Ciara spent much time learning the deep connection between sustainable growing, living well, and creating gastronomic experiences for friends and family. In addition to Dublin, Ciara lived in Tokyo and San Francisco, and travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, and South America before setting in Healdsburg where she honed her appreciation for a culinary lifestyle that includes food and wine. Ciara worked under Chef Michael Tusk at Quince in San Francisco and honed her Italian cuisine skills at Diavola in Geyserville. Ciara enjoys living and working in Sonoma County, where there is such a bounty of local ingredients to creatively play with and explore.
Andrea Mugnaini has become known as America’s ambassador to the world of wood fired cooking through her company Mugnaini Imports, Inc.  Having dedicated the last 20 years of her life to bringing this style of cooking and living to American families and restaurants, she has been able to drive what is now considered a fad to the forefront. She even sponsored the California State Assembly Bill allowing restaurants to use wood-fired ovens outdoors. Mugnaini ovens now grace the Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park, NY and prestigious restaurants such as Chez Panisse.  Homeowners across the country travel to her acclaimed “Art of Wood-Fired Cooking” classes to learn how to enjoy their ovens. Andrea newly published cookbook The Art of Wood Fired Cooking demonstrates just how versatile and fun cooking  in a wood oven can be.

Gerards Nebesky's interest in the culinary arts went hand-in-hand with his travels around the world. His adventure travels always include the goal of eating well while on the road, trail, summit, ocean or wherever he may end up. He became (by default) the trip cook which led him to perfect dishes that require as few pans as possible and easily procured ingredients. Paella was a favorite long before he became famous cooking for the crew of Desperate Housewives and Saturday Night Live and won a Throwdown with Bobby Flay on Food Network. You can find Gerard at any number of winery events, private parties and other festive gatherings with his Gerard's Paella business. 

One of the most highly regarded chefs in America today, Charlie Palmer has received critical acclaim for his signature “Progressive American” cuisine, a style which reinterprets classic European cooking using American artisanal products and small farm producers. Beginning in 1988 with the opening of Aureole in New York, Charlie has combined his creative cooking spirit with his flair for business to establish an impressive roster of restaurants across the country, including the local Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg. Charlie is the author of three cookbooks, Great American Food, Charlie Palmer’s Casual Cooking, The Art of Aureole, and Charlie Palmer's Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen.

Billy Reid

Billy Reid started his culinary adventure in Las Vegas where he worked as a line cook with notable chefs at MGM Corporation restaurants Sea blue, Fiamma and Spago, including Micheal White, Tom Colicci and Wolfgang Puck.  In 2004, he became the executive sous chef for New York New York Hotel and Casino, then chef de cusine of the now infamous Nine Fine Irishmen tavern. Here he reached his love for all things "pub and tavern," most notiably BEER!  He pursued an education in beer, wine and spirits and how to work them into fine food, including visits to wine country. He was drawn further to Sonoma County in 2009 where he was a natural fit to Dean Biersch’s then-new concept HopMonk Tavern. Billy was the executive chef at Hopmonk, opening additional locations over the last several years.

Peter Reinhart's food work began as ministry outreach and later became a full-fledged culinary and teaching career. Both an educator and lay minister, his lessons focus on both secular and spiritual education. One of his books, Bread Upon the Waters: A Pilgrimage Toward Self Discovery and Spiritual Truth, is the first in a series of books exploring nourishment in terms of food and one's life mission. Peter was the co-founder of the award-winning Brother Juniper's Bakery in Santa Rosa, California. He is the author of eight books on bread baking, including Crust and Crumb and The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (winner of the 2002 James Beard Cookbook of the Year and IACP Cookbook of the Year), and the 2008 James Beard Award–winning Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads. He's now a full-time faculty member in the International Baking and Pastry Institute at Johnson and Wales University.

Peter Reinhart and Denene WallaceDenene Wallace started baking goods that would help her manage blood sugar issues after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and gluten intolerance. Soon after, she founded Proseed Flour, a business specializing in the production of high-protein/low-carb gluten-free flour. Although at one time Denene needed five insulin shots a day to control her blood sugar, her gluten-free, sugar-free approach to cooking has helped her completely eliminate her need for insulin.

Rian Rinn was born and raised in Dry Creek Valley where his parents owned the Dry Creek General Store. Rian attended culinary school in San Francisco and worked in some of the finest restaurants in the world, including the Fifth Floor in San Francisco and El Bulli in Spain where he fueled his interest in cured meats. He followed his passion for meat and livestock production as head butcher at Willowside Meats and positions at Golden Gate Meat Company. giving him the opportunity to perfect his craft at custom beef, lamb, and pork cutting, smoking, and sausage making. Along with being the co-owner of Wyeth Acres farm, Rian will be opening a butcher shop Sonoma County Meat Co. in Santa Rosa at the end of 2013.

Rian Rinn

Lindsey Roberts

Growing up in Sonoma County, California, blessed Lindsey Roberts with an appreciation for local and organic foods. Her passion for culinary arts began at the age of 3 when her mom enrolled her in her very first cooking class. Lindsey earned her teaching credential and worked in K-12 education for a few years before she was invited to intern at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, a 100-acre organic farm/cooking school in Ireland. That summer changed her forever. Lindsey now combines her loves of cooking and K-12 education by leading culinary, gardening and nutrition programs in Sonoma County.

Ari Rosen is the Chef-Owner of Scopa and Campo Fina restaurants. He was drawn to food and cooking when he lived in Italy, learning authentic methods from the locals. Before opening Scope in 2008, Ari cooked at Santi Restaurant in Geyserville.

Ari Rosen

Elissa Rubin-Mahon’s foraging and gleaning business, Artisan Preserves, specializes in wildcrafted and rare heirloom ingredients. Elissa's small batch preserving methods were deservedly rewarded when she took home a Good Food Award in 2011 for her Orange Marmalade made with old grove oranges. In addition to leading perserving workshops for public and community groups, she writes a culinary column for Mushroom: The Journal of Wild Mushrooming, is past president and founding culinary chairperson of the Sonoma County Mycological Association, and teaches about foraged and heirloom foods. Elissa's work with Slow Food USA to research and evaluate rare and endangered foodstuffs for Slow Food's Ark of Taste is evident in her ability to create menus and recipes that feature distinctive and exquisite ingredients.

Monica Sallouti, a Certified Natural Chef, is a graduate of Bauman College in Penngrove, CA, a Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts School. Sallouti has been cooking for family and friends since she was a teenager and was influenced by her Lebanese and American grandmothers and the ten years she lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  A life-threatening (and life-transformative) encounter with metastatic melanoma in her late 20s created an interest in self-healing when food, cooking and health became inextricably linked in her quest for health.  Sallouti now works as a personal chef and caterer, planning, preparing and serving delicious, highly nutritious and beautiful food.

Karl Seppi has owned and operated Costeaux French Bakery since 1981. A former golf professional, Karl learned the art of bread baking from the prior owner, Jean Costeaux, with an emphasis on sourdough. After ten years of increased bread baking production and further refinement of product offerings at the original site, Karl and his wife Nancy purchased the old Cerri-Maggenti market, the current location at 417 Healdsburg Avenue. A French bistro café, an expanded dessert and cake line, and catering services were introduced and continue to this day. In 2006, Karl stepped away from day-to-day operations at the business but is still highly involved in community activities with the bakery.

A walking melting pot, Oded Shakked winemaker and co-owner of Longboard Vineyards was born in Israel and raised on three continents. Growing up a hundred yards from the beach just north of Tel-Aviv, he was splashing in the Mediterranean by age two months, and later became one of the area's first surfers. While studying winemaking at UC Davis (can't beat the homework!), Oded worked harvests in Napa and in Bordeaux, but his heart was captured by the rich diversity of Sonoma County - the soils, the climate and the people. Passionate about his craft, Oded is also a great believer in perspective, saying, "Relax, it's only frickin' wine...enjoy it with food you like and trust nothing but your own palate." Oded is known not only for his winemaking prowess, but also for his appreciation and skill of great handcrafted foods. He continues to ferment, pickle, preserve and cook wonderful cuisine inspired by his homeland.

Josh Silvers grew up consumed by the love of good food. He began cooking at the tender age 17 and quickly rose through the ranks of pantry, finish line and sous chef before venturing out on his own as an executive chef. He gained a breadth of experience at several restaurants including Mustard’s Grill in Napa with Chef Cindy Pawlcyn, Café SFA (Saks Fifth Avenue) in San Francisco, and the Orinda Grill in Orinda where he also shared his culinary vision and skills by teaching cooking classes. In 1999, Josh Silvers and his wife Regina moved to Santa Rosa to open their dream restaurant Syrah Bistro and the newly-opened Jackson's Bar and Oven.

Tom Simoneau is a former country rocker turned grape grower, winemaker, wine marketer, educator, wine judge and critic—the living definition of “The Wine Guy.”  Tom farms 12 acres in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley and has transitioned from award-winning amateur wines to the 2005 launch of Simoneau Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.  After winning the prestigious Sonoma County Harvest Fair Sweepstake Award for the Best Amateur Red Wine in 1992, Tom began broadcasting The Wine Minute on Santa Rosa’s News Talk 1350 KSRO where he is still heard daily. He is the director of sales for Windsor Vineyards and an adjunct professor at Santa Rosa Junior College where his wine education courses are perennial favorites.

Laurel in a Tea Ceremony moment

Laurel Skurko’s passion is food and culture, and she has studied cooking in schools across the world, including the Cordon Bleu, Paris, Sankoin Buddhist temple, based in Kyoto, Japan, Nam Singh’s Medicinal School of Chinese Herbal Cooking, based in San Francisco. Laurel has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and a B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University. She has held executive and management positions at The Estée Lauder Companies in New York, Procter & Gamble, France, and Yagami-Shinwa Medical in Japan. Today, Laurel is pursuing several projects relating to food and culture with her business The Culture Kitchen. She hosts cultural events, teaching guests about food and culture through in-depth cultural journeys into regional cuisine. She is an avid practitioner of the Japanese art of tea, and dances classical ballet, modern and salsa.

Born and raised on the Chesapeake Bay, Mark Stark received his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He created a sound foundation in Washington, D.C., with the Four Seasons Hotel, Maison Blanche and the City Club of Washington, then in Seattle with the Bellevue Club. Mark spent several years as a regional chef for the California Café Restaurant group as well as a corporate chef for Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants. His desire to establish culinary roots and define his own style led him to Sonoma County where, with his wife Terri, he created Stark Reality Restaurants, including Willi’s Wine Bar in 2002, followed by Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar in 2003, Monti's Rotisserie in 2004, Stark's Steakhouse in 2008, and soon-to-open The Bird in the Bottle, all to rave reviews.

Mark Stark

Kathleen Stewart is the owner of the wonderful Downtown Bakery and Creamery, a delectable Healdsburg landmark, that also sells its goodies at the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market. Master baker Kathleen is an alumnus of Chez Panisse in Berkeley where she was part of the original Bakers Dozen organization lead by Marion Cunningham and contributed to the The Baker's Dozen Cookbook. Kathleen's luscious and well-tested recipes have also been featured in Fine Cooking, Gourmet Magazine, and

Gayle Okamura Sullivan and her husband Brian (with son Patrick) own Dry Creek Peach and Produce in the heart of the Dry Creek Valley of Healdsburg. Surrounded by world-renown vineyards, Dry Creek Peach is the last remaining fruit farm in the valley and the only dedicated, certified organic peach farm in the county. Gayle and her family split their time between the peach farm and San Francisco where Gayle works as a pastry chef at Postrio restaurant. The Sullivans and their orchard have been featured in House and Garden and Savor Wine Country magazines.

Poppy Tooker is a culinary activist who has worked tirelessly to promote and preserve the historic food ways of New Orleans. With her motto “Eat It To Save It”, she has helped revive endangered foods across the U.S. and abroad in collaboration with Slow Food’s Ark of Taste. Poppy's efforts to rebuild culinary landmarks after Hurricane Katrina earned her a "Hero of the Storm" award from the Times Picayune. She is a contributing editor for Hallmark Magazine and regular columnist for LA Cookin’ and has also written for Fine Cooking. Poppy’s on-camera flair has made her a sought-after guest on the Food Network, the History Channel and in multiple PBS documentaries. Her new book The Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook was published in March 2009.

Dustin Valette is the chef de cuisine at Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen. Chef Dustin is a native of Sonoma County, starting his culinary career in a winery kitchen at the age of 13. After studying at the Culinary Institite of America at Hyde Park, Chef Dustin worked at Michelin-starred Aqua in San Francisco and Napa Valley’s Bouchon and then traveled to Italy where he studied the art of cured meats. Dustin opened his own restaurant Vox outside of Las Vegas before being hired by Charlie Palmer for Dry Creek Kitchen, returning him to Sonoma County. At Dry Creek Kitchen, Dustin draws on the strong relationships he cultivated with local farmers and purveyors in order to provide the restaurant with the area’s freshest and most exceptional ingredients. 

Justin Wangler grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, where he began working in restaurants before attending A. B. Tech Culinary School. Justin gained a true appreciation for food and wine pairing while testing recipes with David Rosengarten for his cookbook, It’s All American Food (Little, Brown & Company). Chef Justin came west and took a job at Napa Valley’s Culinary Institute of America in 1999, and in 2000, he moved to Saddleback Cellars in Napa Valley where his understanding of pairing food with wine was enhanced. After three years working with chef/owner Josh Silvers at Santa Rosa’s Syrah, Chef Justin took the reins as the Executive Chef at the renowned Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates where he creates memorable combinations of textures and flavor, finding a tremendous amount of inspiration and ingredients from the wine center's 2 1/2-acre culinary sensory gardens and local food producers.