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!"

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!

Ashley Faumuina

Ashley Faumuina, Assistant Director

Ashley is a Bay Area native and a recent graduate of Los Medanos College with a degree in Business Administration and Liberal Arts. She transferred to Saint Mary’s College where she is pursuing her degree in Business Administration. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling internationally with her family and friends, “staycationing” with her husband, playing volleyball and spending time with her dog Tama. She also enjoys cooking Samoan food with her mother and sister and hopes to share her love for her Polynesian culture and food with the students of Cooking Round the World.

Ariel Drake

Ariel Drake, Assistant Bookkeeper

Ariel is a mom with a variety of talents and interests. She has always been fascinated by different cultures and their different cuisines. As a young girl, she was introduced to many different types of food, tasting and cooking Ethiopian, Hungarian, Japanese, Israeli, and Italian dishes.

Chelsea Conner

Chelsea Conner, Program Assistant

Chelsea grew up down in the central valley, north of Bakersfield. Growing up in the central valley she had the great privilege of experiencing being able to walk out to orchards and pick vine ripe grapes, the best tasting oranges, and lemons. She moved to the bay area 5 yrs ago to further her education. She enjoys a faster paced life style and all the different cultures not to mention all the new food ! She has always had a passion for food , growing up in the kitchen watching and learning from her grandmothers, great grand mother, grandfather, mother and cousins. She enjoys the outdoors and nature. If everyone smiled a little more the world would be a brighter place.

Jonna Fowler

Jonna Fowler, Outreach and Marketing Coordinator

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!

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.

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.

Stefen Thompson

Stefen Thompson, Regional Manager, San Diego

Born in Richmond Virginia in a large, multi-cultural southern family, Stefen was taught at a very young age by her elders how to eat from seeds cultivated by nature and nourished by love. To carry on this tradition she spreads her passion and education about food, health and wellness through parents and their children. She is an avid yoga enthusiast who spends her self-care time exploring farmers markets, journaling new recipes, and talking her way into Chef Kitchens on her global travels. In 2010, she became an official Navy wife and moved to San Diego, CA with her husband and their four children. While obtaining her Certification as an Integrative Nutrition Coach, she has worked in many community organizations, including the San Diego Unified School district, to educate children about food and health awareness. She has led multiple groups on home cooking techniques and recipe refinement. As well as, been a keynote speaker at various workshops and events that support her mission of “educating families through the power of home cooking.” Home is where the heart is and Stefen is thrilled to call Cooking Round the World her new home.

Talia Myers

Talia Myers, Summer Camp Manager, Oakland

Talia has been part of the Cooking Round the World program since its inception. As the daughter of the director, she influenced the shaping and formation of the program. She is "a natural" with children as a teacher and a mentor and is studying education at Cal Poly to official become a credentialed teacher. Along with her mom, she has visited 43 countries around the world, taking cooking classes wherever she goes, visiting food markets, and gaining firsthand knowledge about cultural likenesses and differences. She is delighted to share what she knows and inspire enthusiasm with the Cooking Round the World campers!

Alex de Man

Alex de Man, Camp Manager, Albany North Berkeley

The kitchen has always been a social place for Alex-- the hub for friendly engagement, sharing simple snacks or elaborate meals, coming together to smell, taste, create, share, and enjoy. She grew up watching and helping her parents prepare home-cooked meals from various cultures, regions, and recipes, and once she was old enough, spent time working for her grandmother's catering company. During her college years, she was known for hosting family dinners and pot-lucks and always ensuring her friends and colleagues were well-fed and nourished. Working closely with the farm-to-table chefs at Long Meadow Ranch expanded her creativity, experimentation, and food-science know-how in her home kitchen and reinforced the values of sustainability and stewardship. Alex looks forward to fulfilling a childhood dream of being a teacher-- sharing her love for food, nutrition, and community empowerment with the makers and doers of tomorrow.

Hayley Ortner

Hayley Ortner, Camp Manager, Lafayette

Hayley is a Bay Area Native and has been exploring the unique food culture of the city of San Francisco for 6 years. Her junior year of college she studied abroad in England, and has had a love of travel and all of the eating that comes with it ever since! Last summer, she went on a cycling trip through France and of course.. ate plenty along the way! After taking some baking classes in France, she has found a love for baking french macarons and other types of patisseries. She also volunteers making birthday cakes for kids, and enjoys cake decorating as well. In her free time Hayley loves cycling in Marin, yoga, trying new restaurants with friends, and traveling. During the school year she teaches children with Autism. She holds a Master's Degree in Education.

Halimah Bashir

Halimah Bashir, Camp Manager, Fremont

From a very young age Halimah Knew her passion would be working with young children. After studying Speech Pathology and Audiology at West Virginia University (by way of New Jersey) she decided to go outside that realm and become a preschool teacher in the inner city of Philadelphia. Since having two kids of her own she's worked with children with special needs, opened and in-home daycare, started a preschool in her community center, and taught preschool in a homeschool co-op group. Her hobbies include helping others and she is the Project Manager for the nonprofit organization that raises funds for those in need. She also enjoys going on hikes with her family and cooking new and healthy meals in the kitchen with her children. She's thrilled to combined her interest of cooking with her passion, working with young children.

Shirley Chen

Shirley Chen, Camp Manager, Pleasant Hill

Shirley has been living in the Bay Area all her life and appreciates all the foods that Bay Area has to offer whether its Burmese chili beef or Korean kimbap. Her love of food and cooking blossomed when she studied abroad in Florence Italy. There, her favorite pastime was visiting Sant Ambrogio Mercato, a local farmer market, to practice her Italian with local vendors and get fresh produce! Shirley is also passionate about education and in the progress of becoming a mathematics high school teacher. She gets lots of experience in education as a tutor for a high school program. She earned her BA degree from UC Berkeley, majoring in Cognitive Science.

Amy MacArthur

Amy MacArthur, Camp Manager, Hercules

Amy caught the travel bug early on in her life, traveling to over 9 different countries and much of the United States before the age of 22. At the end of every trip, her family would choose a couple of recipes from where they traveled to create in their own kitchen. By the time she graduated college, she had accumulated a complex palette, but even more so a desire to continue her pursuit of experiencing other cultures through food. She loves to cook, travel, and is always up for trying her hand at cooking a new recipe, whether it be Meditteranean, Mexican, or California styled. She grew up embracing and enjoying the diversity of cultures and cuisine the Bay Area has to offer. She is a teacher by nature and by trade, currently holding a Bachelor's degree in K-8 Education from Providence Christian College in Pasadena, CA.

Rachel Monzon

Rachel Monzon, Camp Manager, El Cerrito Camp

Rachel Monzon is a Kindergarten Assistant teacher who started her career in education working with 3-5 year olds in a recreation program focuses on preparing children for kindergarten. She continued to gain experience working with children dedicating a year assisting children with exceptional needs. Rachel earned her BA in journalism from San Francisco State University. As an artistic person, Rachel likes to keep her creative juices flowing through arts and crafts and baked goods.

Mariah Garza

Mariah Garza, Camp Manager, Alameda

Preparing colorful meals and desserts from scratch is Mariah's passion. She learned to cook at a young age and is always excited to share her knowledge with children. She has been primarily a cooking teacher for children ages 3 -12 for three years in addition to working with kids in various other camp foci such as arts and crafts, theater, photography, and outdoors. She is currently working towards a bachelor's degree in business at San Jose State University. In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, YouTube, and of course, cooking and traveling.

Heidi Giancola

Heidi Giancola, Camp Manager, Fremont

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!

Laila Issa

Laila Issa, Camp Manager, Lafayette

Laila is extremely excited to join the Cooking Round the World family for her third year. Having lived in in Egypt, Florida and Berkeley, Laila has been interested in the cultures of the world for many years. In addition Laila's family loves to travel, so she developed her love for cooking when she began trying different foods from every corner of the globe. She began cooking with her father at the age of 11. Although he was not a professional chef he enjoyed cooking outstanding meals from all over the world. As she grew older, Laila began cooking for family and friends. She has been babysitting her neighbors and cousins since the age of 12, and she enjoys helping younger teammates on her Lacrosse team whenever she is able to. She is starting college in the fall.

Courtney  Mathews

Courtney Mathews, Camp Manager, Walnut Creek

Courtney has always had a love for food, children and travel. Growing up outside Washington D.C. and later living in Southern California, Florida, Virginia and now Northern California, she has met many interesting people and tasted many delicious dishes along the way. Teaching in Montessori schools in addition to being a personal chef, food has always been the common bond in discovering and enjoying different cultures. She’s always planning and looking forward to her next adventure, inside and outside of the kitchen!

Melody Washington

Melody Washington, Camp Manager, Centre Concord; Danville

During the school year, Melody serves as the Extended Care Program Director at The School of the Madeleine in Berkeley. She obtained her degree in Dramatic Arts from UC Berkeley and after six years of pursuing her creative passions at Paramount Pictures, she learned she had another passion and purpose to work with youth. She spent the last seventeen years dedicated to youth development; beginning with the Boys and Girls Club and branching out to public school campuses in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Her training and experience has enabled her to cultivate strong program development skills as well as increase her communication dexterity and her unique ability to build meaningful connections with youth through programming and building relationships.

Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson, Camp Manager, Castro VAlley

Lisa Jackson is a leader in education specializing in work-based learning and career pathways development. Her passion is to integrate professional development into secondary education courses to better prepare our young innovators, scholars, makers, and artist of the future for the future. Lisa curates internship, job shadow and career awarness with students and industry leaders in the region. She's a Bay Area native and single mother of two amazing older kids who attended “Cooking Around The World” the very first three seasons. Lisa has been an active citizen of San Leandro for the last 15 years, wearing many hats in different community roles and is super excited about wearing this new hat hosting Cooking Round The World in Castro Valley.

Rebecca Chang

Rebecca Chang, Camp Manager, Danville, San Jose, Lafayette

Becca was born into a multicultural family, where she learned how to cook and enjoy food from many different places. Growing up in the Bay Area taught her to appreciate diverse food and cultures. From a young age, she would spend time baking and creating meals with her friends as a social activity. She is a recent graduate from a Masters program in Marriage and Family Therapy, and has spent the past 3 summers working as a teacher in a variety of subjects. What she realized early on was that children love learning when they can do things hands-on. Since she loves cooking, Becca has tried to formulate lesson plans around food and using food as a means of teaching and socializing among her students. In the past ten years, she has also traveled to both Latin America and Asia, volunteering and leading trainings and camps for children and families. She enjoys seeing children “come alive” and enjoy learning. As a teacher, she is excited about passing on that passion to her students, and she desires to see that happen in each of her classes.

Walter Fuentes

Walter Fuentes, Chef Educator

Since childhood, Walter found his niche in the kitchen, always exploring and coming up with new food inventions. He discovered the joy of enriching children’s lives in the same way as a nutrition educator in California’s San Fernando Valley. He recently combined his love of nutrition, food safety, and the realms of science with a degree from Cal State Northridge. Now he will never be found in his kitchen without a cooking thermometer. Walter is thrilled to be part of the Cooking Round the World family, teaching kids about the wonderful cultures and cuisines across the globe.

Caroline Simmons

Caroline Simmons, Summer Camp Assistant

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.

Ceilidh Welsh

Ceilidh Welsh, Summer Camp Assistant

Her whole life she’s been surrounded by amazing food and produce in the Bay Area, and it is only now that she’s moved to Boston for college that she’s begun to understand how incredibly lucky that was. She has also been fortunate enough to travel to several countries, and the food is always the most exciting and noteworthy part of the experience. She hopes to continue learning about food and culture along with the kids at Cooking Round the World!

Veronica Pickard

Veronica Pickard, Summer Camp Assistant

Veronica just completed her first year at Smith College as a Psychology major. Growing up in Santa Monica, California with fresh produce and exposure to many cultural cuisines, Veronica developed a deep love for food and cooking. For Veronica, food is a platform to connect and gain knowledge about cultures far away. It is a fun and easy tool to expand one’s understanding of the world. Working with children is also a great passion and inspiration for Veronica; she is very excited to combine these two parts of her life this summer!

Valeska Shultz

Valeska Shultz, Summer Camp Assistant

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, Summer Camp Assistant

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.

Lisha Allen

Lisha Allen, Chef Educator, Summer Camp Assistnat

Lisha is a Bay area Native; born and raised in San Francisco. She loves to lean and experience new things. Her life is very exciting because she lives one day at a time. She absolutely enjoys people, especially kids. She lives her life like its golden.

Matthias Leue

Matthias Leue, Summer Camp Assistant

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.

Olivia Krause

Olivia Krause, Summer Camp Assistant

Olivia was born in Massachusetts where she grew up close to family and friends who introduced her to many types of foods and traditions. Her mother often cooked fresh foods for her and her siblings. Living by the ocean and farms, there was inspiration to make dishes using seafood and fresh vegetables. Olivia is also an artist, so she loves colorful foods with thoughtful and playful plating. Traveling a lot growing up opened Olivia’s palette and world to new cultures and cuisines. She has been to India, Costa Rica, Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, and other places that add to her life experiences.

Julie Ow

Julie Ow, Summer Camp Assistant

Born and raised in Oakland, Julie has lived and worked in Los Angeles, New York City, Honolulu, and Dubai. She started cooking when she was 7, and by 24 Julie opened and operated her own restaurant in Los Angeles. Julie is currently developing a teen competitive cooking tv show by drawing off of her 30 plus years of on-camera experience. As an actress/ventriloquist, her puppet, Sock has performed with the Screen Actors Guild Foundation children's literacy program, BookPALS, entertaining children in classrooms, assemblies, and at Oakland Children's Fairyland. "It's going to be great fun sharing food education and an appreciation for different cultures and world cuisines with campers!"

Adriana Sullivan

Adriana Sullivan, Summer Camp Assistant, Danville

Adriana just finished her first year at Salt Lake Community College In Utah studying culinary arts. She enjoys studying there then coming back to the Bay Area to visit family. She especially likes trying out the ever evolving food menus in California. For the last year she's been decorating cakes full time while studying culinary arts with an emphasis in pastry. She loves traveling and trying out new foods and especially new desserts.

Rochelle Vicencio

Rochelle Vicencio, Summer Camp Assistant, Concord

Rochelle was born and raised in the Philippines. Through her "Lola" (grandma), she fell in love with cooking; and baking always has a special place in her heart. She grew up in a culture where there was an abundance of produce and through that, she found an affinity to providing happiness through food. She had a wonderful experience working with kids at Harbor House Ministries through their after school program. She is passionate about making an impact in the community and is excited to do so through teaching at Cooking Round the World.

Audely Zhou

Audely Zhou, Assistant, Lafayette

Audley was born in China, raised in France, and came to the U.S. for college! She’s been exposed to many different food cultures and cuisine styles throughout her life. She comes from a family of restaurant owners, and one day she too would like to open her own restaurant! She loves working with kids and loves food, so when you put the two together, she knows the summer will be an amazing experience for both her and the campers.

Amelia Nash

Amelia Nash, Assistant

Amelia is a student at BYU in Utah and she came to the Bay Area in search of a fun summer! She loves to cook and especially loves to bake. She is half Armenian and enjoys making Armenian food. She spent the past year teaching kindergarteners and has a special place in her heart for little ones!

Kim Schwede

Kim Schwede, Assistant, Millbrae

Kimberly is a graphic design and illustration consultant in San Francisco. Inspired by her love of travel, kids and culture she created Bebe Bilingual, a collection of educational tools and gifts for children. These products teach colors, numbers, animals and food in Spanish, French and English. She has worked pro bono with charities that empower women and children in Mexico, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Dominican Republic and Israel in addition to traveling to 32 countries! Locally Kimberly has volunteered as a mentor with SparkSF.org and looks forward to sharing her love of the world with kids this summer.

Fiona Osborn

Fiona Osborn, Camp Counselor, Oakland

Fiona fell in love with cooking and baking at a young age. She enjoys eating out, going to farmers' markets and exploring different food venues throughout the Bay Area. She also likes traveling and learning about different places through the local cuisine and food culture. She has taken numerous cooking classes and looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm with campers.

Kelsey Johnke

Kelsey Johnke, Camp Counselor, Oakland

Kelsey is so excited to be working with Cooking Round the World. She is a 10th grader at Oakland Technical High School. This year she started helping at a local elementary school, working with 1st graders. She found it so much fun to see their faces light up when they learn something new. They are always full of energy and enthusiasm. It is always a blast working with them.

Nicky Harrison

Nicky Harrison, Counselor, Alameda

Food has been a part of Nicky's life for as long as she could remember. She's seen how food can effect people both physically and emotionally and how it ties into our history as humans. She believes if there's one sure-fire way to connect with people from all walks of life: it's through food! She really wants to pass the knowledge she's gathered in her time to others so they can also experience the magic of food.

Regan Fenrick

Regan Fenrick, Summer Camp Counselor

Regan was a camper at Cooking Round the World summer camp since she was 10 years old! She will be starting high school in Oakland this fall, and decided to come back to Cooking Round the World this summer as a Counselor in Training. Regan loves soccer, working with kids, and of course, cooking! She loves to bake at home, and will often make meals for her family. Some of her favorite recipes from the program are Hungarian dumplings and Forgotcz Fank -- Hungarian twisted doughnuts. She hopes to gain further experience in the kitchen, and to open doors to new cultures and experiences!

Elizabeth Lee

Elizabeth Lee, Camp Counselor, El Cerrito

Elizabeth grew up in Albany, and graduated from Albany High School in the spring. She is passionate about doing ballet. Elizabeth is a big fan of food, especially homemade, and is very excited to be working at Cooking ‘Round the World this summer. She loved learning to cook as a kid and she hopes to help campers have the same experience.

Alyssa de Leon

Alyssa de Leon, Camp Counselor, Castro Valley

From helping prep ingredients, cutting up the vegetables for her mom, being the official taste-tester in the house and even watching cooking videos late at night, Alyssa's passion for the culinary lifestyle increased as she grew up. A recent graduate from San Leandro High School, Alyssa hopes to use 'Cooking Round the World' for experience in improving her skills in cooking. Not only for herself, but for the young kids that are willing to learn. The camp concept intrigued her due to the fact that it allows the young ones to learn about recipes from around the world at such a young age. Other hobbies that Alyssa has are reading, playing volleyball, and spending time with friends and family.

Jessica Yabrow

Jessica Yabrow, Camp CIT, Alameda

Jessica is going into her sophomore year in high school in Alameda. She is 15 years old. This is her second year as a cit and she’s very happy she can continue working at Cooking Round the World. She started out as a camper about 5 years ago, when Cooking Round the World first began. She became too old to be a camper but still wanted to be involved with this “amazing camp.”

Walker Harrison

Walker Harrison, CIT, Alameda

Walker combines his love for cooking and his enthusiasm for working with children to the Cooking Round the World team. He is eager to support campers in finding their confidence, while mixing in a lot of food and fun. Walker feels that this camp is the best way to meet new friends, learn cooking skills, and have new experiences that will last a lifetime!

Taylor Shishima

Taylor Shishima, CIT, Albany

Taylor has always loved cooking and trying out new recipes at home. Although her kitchen is very tiny, it still is her favorite place in the house because she can be creative and try new things. She enjoys being with kids because they tend to be really funny and have a really big imagination. When it comes to traveling, she has been to Los Angeles, New York, and Mexico. Even though she goes there often, it's still really enjoyable because she gets to try all the different foods! Last summer Taylor was a CRTW camper and she is delighted to return this year as a CIT.

Serena  Bhalla

Serena Bhalla, CIT, Alameda

Serena has taken Cooking Round the World camp programs 3 times and has fallen in love with the program. Last year, she was a CIT for the camp for the first time. She was inspired by all the recipes she learned while at camp. Each day she would learn something new and she would always have so much fun making it on her own at home. Serena has always loved cooking dishes with her dad because it gives her a sense of independence. She loves baking in general, but when her cousins come over, that’s all she wants to do with them. Going to new places and traveling the world is something Serena loves because she gets to see the different cultures and cuisines that people other than herself have. To her, cooking is a way to put random ingredients together and turn them into your own unique creation.

Mary Usaha

Mary Usaha, Camp Manager, San Diego

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.

Krystal Fisher

Krystal Fisher, Camp Manager, San Marcos

Krystal loves food. It's as simple as that. She loves food just as much as she loves people. She began her culinary journey during high school when her mom encouraged her take a culinary class that initially she had no interest in taking. After the first few weeks in the class she absolutely fell in love with the art of cooking and everything associated with it. Thereafter she completed two years in culinary academy and progressed to become a pastry chef and line cook in various locales around North County. She has a passion for food like no other, and is SO excited to share the culinary journey that she was able to experience with kids, in hopes that they are able to find the same joy in the kitchen as she has.

Tiffany Alston

Tiffany Alston, Camp Manager, Seaside

Tiffany is very excited to explore the world through cooking. She grew up on a farm and enjoyed cooking with her mom. She considers cooking a great way to learn ab=bout the world and build relationships with others.

Lee Anne Barbara

Lee Anne Barbara, Camp Manager, Pine Valley

Born and raised in central North Carolina, Lee Anne had a farm-to-table experience, very similar to the current trend in our grocery stores and restaurants. She grew up eating fresh meats and produce that had primarily come from her back yard and prepared by her father, a man whose cooking skill was well known and sought after in his community. It was in her parents’ kitchen that Lee Anne gained and developed her own cooking style, which she now draws from to feed her family of 6, as well as entertaining extended family, coworkers and friends. A career classroom teacher, with nearly 30 years’ experience in working with children, being able to share her passion for cooking with a group of children is a dream come true for her and she is looking forward to exploring the world with children who might not otherwise get to experience the food and culture of another country.

Soon-Gill Schnellinger

Soon-Gill Schnellinger, Camp Assistant, San Marcos

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.

Alex Bright

Alex Bright, Counselor, San Diego

Alex is 17 and heading into his senior year at San Dieguito Academy. He plays on the basketball and volleyball teams at school and is involved in a number of school groups. He’s loved cooking starting at a young age and works as a part time pantry chef at a restaurant in Encinitas. He really enjoys spending time with kids. If I’m not cooking or playing sports he loves the beach and really enjoys spearfishing.