About Us

Cooking Round the World Director, Mindy Myers

Mindy has been in the field of education for more than 20 years, teaching, writing curriculum design, and serving as a principal. She loves working with kids and they love working with her. She came up with the idea of an educational cooking camp when she observed how much children in the Temple Israel Religious School enjoyed cooking. When she offered up explanations about a food's origins and the customs behind preparing the food, she watched the children's engagement grow.

"Cooking and eating takes on a different meaning when you understand the back story," said Mindy. "Learning a little bit about a country, then preparing that country's food truly enriches the cooking lesson, and makes the eating experience that much more delicious!"

Victoria Bloedau, Assistant Director

A California native, Victoria has avidly explored the cultivation and preparation of artful, nourishing food since childhood. While studying Agroecology at UC Santa Cruz, she engaged her student community with seasonal eating as an Events Coordinator for the university-affiliated Program in Community and Agroecology. She led informative gardening seminars, culinary workshops, and weekly meals featuring home-grown fare that reflected the diversity of the community. While budgeting activities, she managed the procurement and use of communal goods, created quarterly production schedules, and organized many successful fundraising events. To ensure the continuation of the program, she composed several rewarding grant applications. Her dedication to sustainable food led her to promote local, whole-animal eating with Marin Sun Farms where she managed the farmer's market division. She successfully built a strong sales team, composed engaging educational and promotional materials, supported online commerce and presence, and maintained harmonious professional relationships. The diversity of the produce she beheld at market has inspired her to continue celebrating the cuisines of myriad cultures.

Madeleine Smith

Madeleine Smith: Human Resources Manager

Madeleine was born and raised in the Bay Area and has always loved learning, working with children, culture and food. For the past three years she has worked in human relations at Whole Foods Market. This work exposed her to opportunities for teaching and travel, and allowed her to become involved in company programs abroad where young women in desert areas of India received educational programming. Madeleine's passion for education is also reflected in her future school plans for getting her master's degree in educational systems.

Sonja Hammond-Bruno

Sonja Hammond-Bruno, Associate Business Manager

Sonja’s skills and talents are many and diverse. The majority of her finance and human resource experiences has been in the medical field where she worked for Center for Breast Health, Health Care Compliance Association and Evangelical Community Hospital as a manager, customer service representative and analytical problem solver. With a BS in Business Administration, she also worked in Human Resources as a Compensation Specialist. In a past life (wink) Sonja attended culinary school and worked as a chef for many years. Off hours Sonja spends her time hiking, baking and spending time with a large family. She considers herself a people person and is excited to work with the staff and chef educators at Cooking Round the World!

Kat Pinello

Kat Pinello, , Regional Manager, East Bay

A Philadelphia native, Kat grew up surrounded by different cultures and cuisines, including her family's Sicilian seven fish dinner at Christmas time. Coming from a family of cooks, and a twin brother who is a professional chef, it's no wonder she has always found passion and solace in cooking and baking. Eventually, she moved out to the Bay Area to bake at Acme Bread, ending up in Oakland. For the past 8 years, she has been a professional nanny, reconnecting with her love of children and childcare. Kat has a biology background and is currently pursuing her BA/BS in Education and Nursing in the evenings. Kat's love and excitement for exploration and experimentation with food and cuisine is optimistic and endless. She is shameless about getting goofy and involved with every student, while her energetic and jolly personality is sure to engage every meal and challenge.

Jesse Marseille

Jesse Marseille, Regional Marketing Coordinator, San Francisco and Peninsula; South Bay

Jesse has been working with children as an educator and program coordinator for six years. He enjoys working in the energetic and creative environment that camps and classes provide. The innovative and progressive curriculum at Cooking Round the world aligns with Jesse's values, and he is excited to contribute to the program's growth and outreach.

Meredith Herman

Meredith Herman, Regional Manager, North County

Meredith's journey with expanding her palette began in her mid-twenties. I was 22 years old the first time I tried an avocado! I truly believe it's never too late to try new things and I have seen how food has a way of opening doors and expanding other aspects of enjoying life. I love trying new foods and flavor combinations that I never thought would work together. I first started traveling abroad to Europe and then to South East Asia where I visited some amazing countries and made wonderful friendships. Most recently, I have been exploring the United States and learning about the unique lands and cultures that surround me.

Trieva Rue

Trieva Rue, Regional Manager, San Diego

My name is Trieva Rue and I am from the beautiful mountain town of Ruidoso, NM. I was born and raised in the Land of Enchantment. I have dachshund named Kanga. I love to camp, fish, (in fact, I keep a tent and fishing pole in my car at all times) and I absolutely love photography. I also love to cook and it has always been a way for my family and friends to come together. I have been cooking for my family since I was 12 years old and have continued to cook for my family and friends all through my adult life. I taught special education for seven wonderful years. Teaching is my passion and I cannot imagine my life without it!

Sawittri Charun

Sawittri Charun, Chef Educator/Program Assistant

Sawittri grew up in Malaysia, where friendships and family ties are strengthened by a common love for good food. Amongst her family and friends, it is very common for plans to be made about where and what to eat for lunch while breakfast is being enjoyed! In fact, the first thing Malaysians say when they meet is not "How are you?" but "Have you eaten?". The answer is irrelevant - you go have a meal anyway! As a spouse to an internationally mobile employee, Sawittri has lived in Canada, Southern California and now the East Bay. She has also travelled to different parts of Europe, South America and Asia and has been fortunate to sample many beautiful local dishes. Sawitttri holds a degree in Education and a Masters in English as a Second Language (ESL) and has served as an ESL teacher, a teacher coach and most recently an ESL tutor.

Sara Ketcham

Sara Ketcham, Birthday Party Lead

Sara Ketcham is a Bay Area native, and she is committed to a life of community building and education. She currently teaches World History and English at Oakland Technical High School. For her undergrad, she majored in Global Studies at UCLA, a degree that looks at international development and globalization. Sara believes there is great value in learning about the cultures and experiences of people around the world! Her love for cooking and learning recipes from other cultures began during a semester in Italy, where every meal is a delicious work of art. She has continued to learn recipes from French, Swiss, and Indian housemates and is excited to join the staff of Cooking Round the World!

Adam Parliman

Adam Parliman, Chef Educator, Birthday Lead

Adam was born in New Jersey and went to college in Pennsylvania, dual majoring in Sociology and Anthropology. He has always been fascinated by people and believes that the best way to connect with them is through education. Cooking Round the World gives him the opportunity to combine his two passions in life: education and food! In his free time he enjoys exploring California with his wife and friends. He is always on the lookout for the next big adventure and where to find the best food.

Caroline Simmons

Caroline Simmons, Chef Educator

Caroline has enjoyed cooking diverse foods for many years and has worked with elementary school-aged for 4 years. She is thrilled to merge her two passions or teaching and cooking. She believes that cooking foods from different parts of the world is an invaluable experience for children and adults alike, Leaning about different cultures, making connections, and participating in a hands on activity like cooking fosters openness and acceptance.

Margot Reisner

Margot Reisner, Birthday Lead

Margot is a natural chef, environmental educator and permaculture designer native to Northern California. She studied sustainable food systems as an Environmental Studies major at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, lived on a permaculture farm in Bolinas and attended culinary school at Bauman College in Berkeley. Margot has been teaching gardening, ecology and nutritional cooking to kids of all ages for over 3 years. As a self-proclaimed farmacist, Margot's specialties range from farm-to-table cuisine and allergen free cooking, to natural medicine, handmade ceramics and outdoor education. She is extremely passionate about food and loves to share the fun and deliciousness with young ones!

Cale Wright

Cale Wright, Chef Educator

Cale Wright is a San Diego native with a passion for culinary expression, be it any form or flavor (as long as it's tasty!) Having traveled to various countries throughout the world and taken part in a wide variety of cultural traditions, Cale has found eating to be the most universal of all activities shared, and also the most relational. As both a chef and an extrovert, Cale will often turn to a new recipe to impress both his own taste buds as well as those of his friends. Cale also enjoys building relationships with kids and helping them learn new and exciting things about the world around them, especially food. Currently completing his doctorate in Clinical Psychology, Cale is extremely excited to be a part of a team that values both eating and learning

Jonna Fowler

Jonna Fowler, Chef Educator

Jonna is a Martinez ca native born into a family of butchers and caterers. She is a former equestrienne and athlete but even after all the glitz and glam of horse showing, tournaments and exhibitions, her heart remained true to the family's roots! She has a great passion for food, children and instruction!

Valeska Shultz

Valeska Shultz, Chef Educator

Valeska is passionate about teaching children. She grew up in Spain, in a farming community where her family ate what was harvested. Going to the store to buy vegetables was unheard of. She loves to use cooking as a way to introduce children to cuisines and flavors from around the world.

Edomyas Solomon

Edomyas Solomon, Chef Educator

Edomyas was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and has lived in a variety of places since moving to the U.S. for college, including Massachusetts, New York, Washington DC, San Diego, and New Mexico. His travels have taken him to many places in Europe as well as Peru and Costa Rica where he worked on an organic farm learning about sustainable ways of growing food and medicinal herbs. He has enjoyed working with children as a youth theater director, a soccer coach, and a summer camp director. His love for food and appreciation of its power to bring communities together began in his childhood during his frequent visits to his grandmother's house, which also operated as a neighborhood restaurant. It was a place where people from all walks of life came together to enjoy locally grown and lovingly prepared traditional Ethiopian food and drinks, as well as to commune together while sharing stories and laughter.

Megan Brazil

Megan Brazil, Chef Educator

Megan has had a passion for food her whole entire life. Growing up, she was always trying a new recipe she watched on a cooking show. This inspired her to peruse a degree in Foods and Nutrition. She draws her inspirations from the many cultures she experienced living in the bay area. In addition, she has years of experience working in camps with children. She is very excited to share her knowledge and try out even more new recipes!

Paige Teamey

Paige Teamey, Chef Educator

Food is one of the most natural ways to build community. Food is a conversation, a form of resistance in some spaces, an expression of ourselves, and a medicine for our mind and body. Food helps open dialogue, exploration into new spaces, and the virtual feeling of traveling to somewhere with our tastes and sated feelings. Paige has explored a range of these ideas within formal and informal learning spaces. She has taught food science courses in New York City for years with families in multiple communities, and continues to learn how hands-on design and learning can be navigated with simple and approachable materials such as food. She loves to bike, learn from bees, and explore new trails throughout

Natasha Osmidoff

Natasha Osmidoff, Chef Educator

Natasha was born and raised in Marin county. She spent 5 years working with kids of all ages in summer camps and daycares where she learned how to teach and coordinate children's activities in sports, arts, and sciences. Her love of food and good cooking grew when she moved to San Francisco. Natasha has cooked and worked in various restaurants and cafes, developing her understanding of food. She is working towards expanding her experience in the food service and hospitality business. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge with her classes and having fun with all her chef's in training through Cooking Round the World!

Ana Ahnen

Ana Ahnen, Chef Educator

Ana is a professional chef with experience from corporate parties to private dinners. She is also the oldest of 7, so interest in teaching kids is in her blood! She has a passion for traveling and immersive experiences in different cultures. Since moving to the US from Brazil, Ana has spent time living in places like Mozambique, Mexico and Europe. She is excited to merge these experiences with her professional training to provide kids with the opportunity to learn about the different cultures of the world through food.

Melissa Baugh

Melissa Baugh, Chef Educator

Melissa studied History and Education at UC Davis and after graduating, she traveled throughout Europe site seeing and tasting authentic cuisine. Her passion for cooking came at an early age, thanks to her parents assigning herself, and her brother 1 night per week to plan and prepare a dinner menu. A teacher in the Antioch school district, Melissa’s grandmother inspired her to teach. Her passion for cooking and love for teaching are able to come together at Cooking Round the World!

Heidi Giancola

Heidi Giancola, Chef Educator

Heidi was born and raised in Lunenburg, Massachusetts. She has a love for teaching young learners. Her experiences with teaching included being a gymnastics coach for 3-14 year olds; as an after school science teacher for 5-12 year olds; and teaching English as a second language to 10-19 year olds. She got her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with an interest in urban agriculture at San Diego State University. Heidi’s love for food and cooking grew when she traveled around Europe. Food is an integral part of studying and understanding different cultures unique attributes. While baking is her specialty, Heidi loves experimenting with new foods and trying new recipes. She is very excited to teach for Cooking Around the World and have the chance to educate others through cooking!

Kate Beckman

Kate Beckman, Assistant Chef Educator

Born and raised in Oakland, Kate has been exposed to so many different cultures which lead her to pursue a degree in History. She loves to watch children learn and grow. Her first job was an internship at the Lawrence Hall of Science at the age of 14 where she could help young children learn the joys of sience. She is fascinated with all the cultures the world has to offer, especially all the different kinds of food. Her love of different cultures took her to Korea where she taught English to grades 3 - 12.

Matthias Leue

Matthias Leue, Assistant Chef Educator

Matthias Leue is a fine art landscape photographer and travel story writer. He grew up moving several times back and forth between the United States and his native Germany. Born in Köln, Germany, he also lived in Philadelphia, Frankfurt, Germany, on the Monterey Peninsula, and various places in the San Francisco Bay Area. He enjoys cooking for family and friends and has taught both his sons how to cook when they were young - one of whom is now a professional chef, the other is a culinary innovator. He always gets giddy when his youngest son comes to visit and sharpens his kitchen knives, and when his oldest son comes to make the best omelettes ever. He has a cat who comprehends three languages - the third language however being limited to the word pescado, which seems to suffice for Mr. trilingual.

Jennifer Tong

Jennifer Tong , Assistant Chef Educator

Hello! My name is Jennifer Tong and I am a recent graduate from UC Davis with a degree in Nutrition in Public Health. I have spent my whole life loving cooking and baking and feel grateful to have an opportunity to teach children these same skills. I also enjoy working with children and seeing their curiosity for new things and hope to further that curiosity as we cook and learn about various cultures. In the future, I aspire to get an MPH and continue to help in the education of others on health and overall well-being.

Mary Usaha

Mary Usaha, Chef Educator, Southern California

Mary was born and raised in the Midwest where she had her share of meat and potatoes. Her mother was her inspiration behind making every meal count nutritionally, but just as important, making sure it tasted good. After meeting and marrying her husband who was born half way around the globe in the multi-cultural island of Penang, she began enjoying, exploring and cooking foods from around the world. She has been an educator for over 15 years most recently working with English Language Learners. She especially enjoys sharing her love of cooking and experiencing new cultures. She and her husband have 3 grown children and have been married over 30 years.

Jess O'Reilly

Jess O'Reilly, Chef Educator, Southern California

Jess was born in a small country town in Australia. From a young age, she has loved food. For Jess, cooking is about family and community. She is a developmental psychologist and completed her Ph.D. in 2014. Her research explored social understandings in children cross-culturally. During her years of study, Jess traveled the world and worked with children and families in many countries. She lived in the Netherlands, traveled throughout Europe and spent time in Iran and China and now she is living in San Diego. Travel has allowed Jess to experience different cultures and try new food and local delicacies. Jess believes food has the power to bring people together to celebrate culture and diversity and is thrilled to be a part of Cooking Round the World!

Emelyne Sablan

Emelyne Sablan, Chef Educator, Southern California

Emelyne has a passion for children, travel, and healthy foods. She has three grandchildren that she loves spending time with, including volunteering in their classrooms and attending their field trips. She has also done volunteer work at a local homeless shelter and Sunday school. Her travels have taken her to Costa Rica, Thailand, Mexico, Guam, Canada and many parts of the United States. Her travels have allowed her to volunteer in helping the Hills Tribe people in Chiang Rai, Thailand, and orphanage's in Mexico. Emelyne has been married to her husband for over 33 years, and they raised three children. She has been a successful business owner and recently retired. She is now excited to work with children in her passion of cultural experiences and to be involved with Cooking Round the World.

Soon-Gill Schnellinger

Soon-Gill Schnellinger, Chef Educator, Southern California

Soon-Gill has a multi-cultural perspective, growing up in Sweden, as a German citizen, she was raised bilingual. She moved to the United States when she was a teenager, and looks at life through with a lens of fun and excitement. Her hobbies include cooking, hiking, biking and learning.

Jorge Zamudio

Jorge Zamudio, Chef Educator, Southern California

Jorge is originally from Mexico. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts and has a passion for not only cooking and baking, but teaching and sharing his culture as well! For the past 7 years, he has led the culinary division of Children's summer camps in New York and Colorado. He is bilingual and able to help children learn about cooking and culture in both English and Spanish. Jorge enjoys traveling, learning and sharing cultures, and spending quality time with his puppy!

Elizabeth Eshom

Elizabeth Eshom: Assistant Chef Educator, Southern California

Elizabeth is a California native who graduated from Cal Poly with a Bachelors degree in Liberal Studies. Top on her list of favorites in life are Children, food and Travel! She continued her education to obtain a Teaching Degree to fulfill her desire to educate and inspire children. After enjoying classrooms full of children, she raised three daughters of her own. Cooking hundreds of meals, she became quite creative in the kitchen. Cooking and dining out became a big part of her life. Next, Elizabeth discovered travel! She was fortunate to experience many places around the world. She was able to embrace the amazing diversity of foods and cultures of France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Jamaica, Italy, Mexico and Kenya. She is passionate to share a part of her life experience with Cooking Around The World!

Serena Gibb

Serena Gibb, Assistant Chef Educator, Southern California

Serena was born in San Francisco and grew up in the kitchen with a Pastry Chef for a mother and a Fireman-Chef father. She spent her twenties working in the hospitality industry and traveling and exploring other cultures where she had the opportunity to sample many cuisines. She also enjoyed taking evening culinary courses at local community colleges for personal enrichment. Serena is now a mother and lives in San Diego where she enjoys volunteering at the school where her two children attend and has a passion for cooking and baking healthy food with her kids.