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!"
Willa Heeger, Executive Assistant
Willa Heeger is an Oakland native and loves children! She has experience and training in early childhood education. She has a 6-year-old daughter and they love to cook together. She enjoys being outside, drinking lattes, and eating good food. She is so thrilled to be working for Cooking Round the World!
Ariel Drake, 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, 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!
Rhoda Butler-Nelson, Chef Educator
Rhoda is a recent retiree, homeschool parent, and student. She is passionate about helping others, education, knowledge, cooking, and food. She has over 20 years of experience and education in coaching, mentoring, and teaching individuals of all ages in various settings. She is currently seeking a degree in counseling. She is very enthusiastic about starting her new adventure at Cooking Round the World and being part of the team.
Isaac Spilman, Chef Assistant
Isaac is a Bay Area native with a passion for food and a hope that he can inspire that passion in others. Whether it's bread, pasta, or tortillas, we all eat, so let's make it fun! He knows from personal experience that even simple recipes bond family and friends. He wants to help Cooking Round the World do the same.
Charles Toombs, Chef Educator
Charles is a 27-year-old Texan who loves to fill the kitchen with phenomenal smells that leave a lovely taste on the tongue. He is a culinary school graduate with a passion to teach what he knows to anyone willing to learn.
Candace Peters, Chef Educator
Student of life and a creative spirit, Candace has been a textile artist for many years, and dedicated food enthusiast for just as long. Two things she loves are sharing her passion for making things, and finding new solutions to challenges. Yoga, biking, and outdoor adventures are her medicine, and keeps her grounded. She tried to always keep learning and growing.
Emma Finn, Chef Educator
Born and raised in the East Bay, Emma was exposed to foods from around the world at a young age. After receiving her bachelor's degree in Geography and Environmental Studies, she began applying her expertise in sustainability and social justice to food. Her passion for food and cooking inspires her to learn more about people and cultural food traditions from around the world, acknowledging the crucial roles of migration and history in shaping various cuisines as we know them today. She hopes to inspire future generations with a desire to learn more about each other, and the world, through food!
Manal Saeed, Chef Educator
Manal is a 24-year-old student. She is studying psychology and is a mother to a four-year-old. She loves to write and hike in her free time.
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, Regional Co-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.
Stacey Shapiro, San Diego Regional Co-Manager
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!
Lisa Alter, Chef Educator
Lisa was born and raised in a melting pot of cultures and cuisines - the greater New York area. Her love for cooking began at an early age, creating traditional eastern European dishes side by side with the women in her family. While Lisa spent her working years as an executive in the high technology industry, her creativity in the kitchen blossomed and she began creating her own delectable recipes. This was best evident at home, in the kitchen with her children at her side, or in culinary schools attending continuing education hands-on cooking classes. Today, Lisa is focused on her second career - as an aspiring private chef, caterer, and food enthusiast/educator. She loves to delight her family and friends with her tasty creations. Lisa can think of no better way to share her enthusiasm and passions than with children in her neighborhood too!
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, Assistant
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.