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.

Virginia Turner

Virginia Turner, Associate Business Manager

Virginia has more than 10 years of professional accounting and business experience. She is passionate about supporting businesses that create opportunities in their communities. Her ideal world is a place where small businesses with great ideas are supported in their first few years so that the can flourish. Cooking Round the World fits this model. When she is not working, you will find Virginia spending time with her family, gardening or volunteering at a local non-profit. Or you just might see her flying by in her bright orange 1973 Super Beetle on a beautiful California day!

Katrina Augustus

Katrina Augustus, Assistant Bookkeeper

Katrina was born in the Bay Area, but grew up in the San Joaquin Valley. She came back to the Bay to pursue her Business Administration degree, with a concentration in Accounting Information Systems. Katrina has always loved math and economics and she hopes to pursue a master's degree to obtain her CPA or MSA certification. In the meantime, Katrina is expanding her experience and Cooking Round the World is the beginning of her bright career in the accounting field. When she isn't working or at school, she's spending quality time with her partner and their four cats and three dogs!

Kate Beckman

Kate Beckman, Program Assistant

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.

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, San Diego 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.

Natalie Prakobkit

Natalie Prakobkit, Chef Educator

Natalie grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from SJSU with a Bachelor's Degree in Business. She teaches cooking with the children at the Jewish Community Center in Oakland. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband and her two dogs, Butter and Biscuit. Other than her passion for cooking and baking, Natalie spends her free time exploring different foods, traveling, kick boxing, and working on her cookbook.

Samantha Limcaco

Samantha Limcaco, Chef Educator

Samantha describes herself as a food geek. She loves to learn about every aspect of food – from its origins and traditions to its farming and production, and most importantly, its consumption! Her professional food adventure began modestly in a dive bar, frying chicken and BBQ-ing ribs. After earning a culinary degree, her inquisitive nature took her to a corporate test kitchen where she created her categories of salad dressing, among other pursuits. Most recently, her work at a high-end restaurant allowed her to use local ingredients to create a variety of dishes that were responsibly sourced, beautifully rendered and delicious. Samantha has followed her insatiable curiosity into every corner of the food industry and now she is ready to share that knowledge with her students.

Sawittri Charun

Sawittri Charun, Chef Educator

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!

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

David Alcala

David Alcala, Birthday Assistant

David’s passion for cooking and food stems from his childhood experiences in the kitchen and around the dinner table. Meals became not only a source of nourishment but shared expressions of creativity and knowledge. This sparked a sense of wonderment that made him love learning in and outside the classroom. He hopes to share with children that cooking can be a positive outlet for personal growth that is made to be shared with others.

Jamie May

Jamie May, Chef Educator

Jamie May is a fourth-year graduate student studying clinical psychology. Within this program, he has received training in psychodynamic therapy, social justice, and community mental health. He previously worked as a chef, a musician, and a camp counselor. He has also had several opportunities to teach as a tutor and teacher's assistant. He is particularly enthusiastic about the opportunity to help students learn about various cultures and cooking techniques, drawing upon his own personal experiences and the weekly lessons provided by Cooking Round the World.

Jowelle Campbelle

Jowelle Campbelle, Chef Educator

Jowelle is an upbeat, passionate and easy going chef who can make herself feel at home in any kitchen. As a recent graduate from the Art institute of San Francisco majoring in baking and pastries she has learned how to integrate her passions into a career. She hopes to set the pathway for other young kids to foster their own unique gifts beginning with taking simple ingredients and creating masterpieces. Jowelle's passion for integrating culinary practice into the lives of young children is driven from her own personal struggles with a learning disability that challenged her in every classroom except for the kitchen. Her experience with baking as a child gave her all the right ingredients to create mouthfuls of memories for friends, loved ones and now children.

Vidya Mehra

Vidya Mehra, Chef Educator

Vidya is an extremely versitile chef with positive energy and a great working knowledge of cuisines from around the globe. She studied at Le Cordon Bleu, worked in fine dining for many years, and taught cooking classes for both adults and children alike. Most of all, she loves cooking, teaching, and sharing her knowledge and passion with her students in a fun, yet informative way.

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.

Trieva Rue

Trieva Rue, Chef Educator, Southern California

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!

Colin Haydu

Colin Haydu, Assistant Chef Educator

Colin's first memory of cooking was from when he was 4 years old, "helping" his father make chocolate chip cookies by stealing chocolate chips every time his dad turned around. For the past 9 years, he's been cooking professionally in a variety of settings, from sandwich shops, to fine-dining restaurants, to modernist kitchens. He loves making food that's an expression of creativity and technique, but also warmth and hospitality. He's had many opportunities to experience first-hand how food and cooking can bring together people who don't initially seem to have much in common in really wonderful ways. He'll also still probably steal your chocolate chips if you're not looking.

Steph Cepellos

Steph Cepellos, Assistant Chef Educator

Steph grew up in a multicultural household, where many social activities centered around food. Despite their busy schedules, dinner together was a daily part of family life. Steph's love of food and eating drives her passion for cooking. She learned how to cook from her mother, who made meals using many different spices and techniques from around the world. Her Italian grandmother lived with the family for many years, and Steph cooked with her almost every Sunday as a kid, making pasta or tomato sauce from scratch. A New York City native, Steph got to experience all the cuisines and cultures surrounding her. As an adult, Steph feeds her passions by traveling for different foods and experiences. Everywhere she goes, she learns something about the country, and often returns home with at least one new recipe! She is excited to inspire and encourage students to develop a similar appreciation and enthusiasm for other cultures and their foods.

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.

Susan Fay

Susan Fay, Assistant Chef Educator

Susan is a self-starter who has been in business for many years in a variety of wonderful professions. She has a real estate brokers license and a design diploma. She considers herself a foodie. She always buys fresh ingredients and she cooks every day. She loves the idea of instilling in children a love foods and an appreciation of cultures around the world.

Krystal Fisher

Krystal Fisher, Chef Educator, Southern California

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.

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.

Jenny Bastien

Jenny Bastien, Chef Educator, Southern California

Jenny is originally from the Washington D.C.'s suburbs but moved to San Diego for the sun and warm weather. She grew up with a passion for food thanks to her Haitian roots. She attended an international French school in D.C. During undergrad, she moved to Rome, Italy, and her passion for cooking and food only grew. She now travels to experience new cuisines and to experience new cultures. She is currently completing her Masters Degree in Nutrition Education at American University. In her spare time, she teaches nutrition education workshops, volunteers at local food distributions, hikes and relaxes by the beach.

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!