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!"

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.

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!

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.

Erin Williams

Erin Williams, Regional Manager, Bay Area

Erin is a Bay Area native. She has traveled abroad to several different countries and domestically to dozens of states. Her grandparents made sure she was “cultured” and had the opportunity to experience different ethnicities, food, and ways of living. From an early age she was encouraged to “find her way around the kitchen”. Her culinary curiosity grew along with her Home Chef skills. After college she became a teacher. She found a teaching home at Bright Horizons in San Francisco, where she taught at various centers over a 5year period. Since then she has embraced her passion for food and decided to jump into the kitchen so to speak. Here at Cooking Round the World She gets to have the best of both worlds!

Talia Myers

Talia Myers, Outreach and Marketing, chef Educator

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!

Stephanie Bowers

Stephanie Bowers, Chef Educator

Stephanie is a retired Child-Care Provider. She has two daughters a husband and a kitten. She loves cooking and children. She is excited to hop back in the work place and begin her new adventure with Cooking Round the World.

Matthias Leue

Matthias Leue, 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.

Tamika Harris

Tamika Harris, Chef Educator

Tamika is a private and upcoming Chef with her own small business. Tamika has worked with children all over the city such as Berkley, Richmond and San Francisco. Tamika loves Cooking and is very passionate about food. She is happy to join the Cooking Round the World Family and can’t wait to get in the kitchen.

Stacey Shapiro

Stacey Shapiro, Chef Educator

Originally from the East Coast, Stacey was taught about the importance of nourishing the body with food early on. Being taught these values as a child, Stacey grew up to become a health enthusiast, personal trainer and nutritional consultant. She is known for making healthy food taste indulgent, and loves showing educating everyone about the different kinds of food. From Kangaroo in Australia to Durian in Malaysia, she has traveled all over the world, and loves to sample flavors and traditions of new countries. Stacey is excited to be apart of Cooking Round the World and be able to share her knowledge of cooking and culture!

Mary Usaha

Mary Usaha , Chef Educator

Cooking for friends and family has always been one of Mary’s favorite pastimes. Exploring new cultures comes in as a close second. Being able to share these two with kids through cooking classes is a dream come true. Watching kids experience an exotic flavor in a food they have prepared themselves for the first time never gets old!

Valeska Shultz

Valeska Shultz, Chef Educator

Valeska grew up in Spain, in a farming community where her family ate what was harvested! Going to the store to purchase food was unheard of. She’s a Spanish Language Teacher educator. Her passion is to teach cooking and encourage children to explore, discover and experience culinary cuisine from around the world to make their world bigger, varied and enjoyable. When not in the kitchen, you can find Valeska in her garden or traveling!

Heather Hough

Heather Hough, Chef Educator

Heather was born in Washington, D.C., the capital of our nation’s melting pot. Her major love for food began with the best birthday present her childhood self could desire: an edible garden! She loves to explore the cycle of food from farm to table and is a huge advocate for experiential education. Now pursuing a degree in Environmental Sustainability, she previously took gap years learning the land and growing many different foods in many different climates. Some past projects include volunteering to counsel summer camps at orphanages, and establishing community gardens in Nicaragua and Haiti- also designing permaculture on the Big Island of Hawaii while facilitating family friendly eco workshops. When she isn’t busy in the books, the garden, or the kitchen, you’ll probably find her in a yoga pose or enjoying some the sea breeze. Her love for bringing the community together shines through in all of her work.

Karly Given

Karly Given, Chef Educator

Karly is a native Californian who grew up in Pacific Palisades and now resides in Cardiff by the Sea. Among many hobbies, Karly enjoys working out, playing pickle ball, walking with her dog Tanner, and skiing at Mammoth Mountain. Her passion for food and cooking/baking began at a young age as she prepared meals and desserts for her family. Karly continues this passion today, preparing meals for select clients and her husband almost every day of the week. Together with her associates degree in child development and her experience owning a preschool and baking business, Karly hopes to share her experiences and enlighten young minds in the world of food and cooking!

Patty Soule

Patty Soule, Chef Educator

Patty started her cooking career while in high school by frying doughnuts at 3:00 a.m., well before classes. She later became a baker at the renowned Dudley’s Bakery in Santa Ysabel, CA. Patty continued up the cooking and food preparation ladder to become the manager at the Ramona, CA Alpha Beta grocery store’s deli/bakery, and then was manager at the Café Sport restaurant in El Centro, CA. In a change of gears, Patty volunteered at the Campo Elementary School in Campo, CA. when her children were young. She stayed there on a permanent basis as a campus supervisor. She has watched her students grow from kindergarten through graduating high school.

Jordan McCrorie

Jordan McCrorie, Chef Educator

Chef Jordan is from Seattle but recently relocated to the Berkley area. Chef Jordan has a degree in culinary arts and hospitality management, with an emphasis on restaurant management. Chef Jordan has been a chef for the last 10 years. Chef Jordan has a passion for food and loves to feed people, as well as traveling and experimenting with different cuisines; the favorite being Asian. Chef Jordan loves working with children and has been working with kids on and off for years. Chef Jordan has a dog named Duke and a large cat named Mimo.

Brigitte Taylor

Brigitte Taylor, Chef Educator

Brigitte Taylor’s interest in food and nutrition started in fourth grade with her move from Japan to San Diego. Her 5th grade teacher introduced her to books and ideas involving growing and cooking her own food. Brigitte later reduced processed food consumption; became vegetarian and planted sunflower and peanut gardens, and made multiple meals and desserts for her family in fifth and sixth grades. The inspired teachers in elementary school classes were a vital aspect of her development as a youth and interest in creative expression through the sharing of healthy meals and food preparation. Brigitte has an M.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences from San Diego State University and continues to explore food and culture through travel, community service and running-related fitness programs.

Brittany Craig

Brittany Craig, Chef Educator

Brittany is a San Diego native. She ate a lot of fast food growing up because she was always busy with sports, both playing and coaching. It wasn’t until her collegiate volleyball experience was over that her real passion for food and health began to play a big role in her daily life. Her food is influenced by the diverse culinary scene in San Diego as well as her family from all over the globe. Nothing makes her happier than cooking a meal for her friends and family. She is excited to continue working with children and sharing her passion for cooking.

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.

Michael Neff

Michael Neff, Chef Educator

Michael began his culinary career in Chicago in 1979 and has since developed an expertise in Hawaiian and Pacific Rim cuisine. He further honed his skills at Disney World’s Polynesian Village. Michael’s love of food and cooking comes from his family. He grew up in an Italian household in Chicago and food was a predominant part of his life. He loves teaching cooking and feels that the sharing of culinary education gives those he teaches insight and gives him great satisfaction to share what he knows.

Precious Anderson

Precious Anderson, Chef Educator

Precious has experience working with children as an ABA therapist, childcare provider assistant, and tutor. She grew up cooking alongside her father in the kitchen. She has had a passion for cooking ever since. One of her favorite dishes to make is breaded parmesan chicken with marinara sauce over spaghetti noodles. She is so excited to be a part of cooking round the world this year.

Jacque Muniz

Jacque Muniz, Chef Educator

Jacque graduated from SFSU last year and has been working at EBIA with the 6th-8th graders. She has experience working with a diverse group of students in a variety of activities. She is excited to teach this camp. She really enjoys cooking and would like others to experience it too. Some of her favorite foods are: fried rice, Spanish rice, Thai food, kimchi jjigae, tteok-bokki, udon, ramen, beans, pozole, etc.

Jessica Reynaga

Jessica Reynaga, Chef Educator

Jessica is a current student at Foothill College pursuing a major in Early Child Development. She was born and raised in Redwood City and has always enjoyed working with children. It amazes her to see every child be creative and themselves in their own way. Jessica believes that when we give children a safe and comfortable place for them to just be, it allows them to find themselves and discover new things about their surroundings and themselves. She comes from a big family, and has many nieces and nephews who see her as their cool, fun, and funny aunt. She’s been working at Roy Cloud Elementary School in Redwood City for the last few years for an enrichment program. She has several years of experience working with children, and has learned so much from them.

Iesha Smith

Iesha Smith, Chef Educator

Iesha has been cooking since the age of three with her mom who is Italian and her dad who is from Louisiana. She loves experimenting with different flavors to make something wonderfully delicious come together. When she graduated from baking and pastry school, she was immediately hired as the instructor. That is when she fell in love with teaching, her favorite hobby. Now she has four children of her own who can all cook full 5-8 course meals from top to bottom. Iesha is extremely proud of herself and her children.