We have had the joy of hosting and working with the best instructors and chefs in the world. But everything starts at home, and our roster is jam-packed with the absolute best of local talent.


Michael Agnew, Minnesota’s first Certified Beer Cicerone (sommelier), is a charming and entertaining beer educator. He organizes beer tasting events for A Perfect Pint and writes a monthly beer column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. www.aperfectpint.net

Ann Ahmed emigrated from Laos when she was four, and she and her family have been in the restaurant business for 20 years. She owns and operates Lemon Grass in Brooklyn Park. www.lemongrassthaicuisine.net

Robin Asbell, former head chef of the Wedge Deli in Minneapolis and accomplished food writer, has been writing and teaching culinary classes in the Twin Cities since 1985. Much of her career has been devoted to developing exciting, easy-to-use recipes such as those featured in her cookbooks, The New Whole Grains Cookbook and The New Vegetarian. The recipes are collected from many years of preparing thoughtful and healthful meals both at home and professionally. Robin has held an esteemed position on Cooks’ roster of instructors for 13 years.

Jen Antila In 2010, Jen Antila traded her corporate corner cubicle for her kitchen!  Embracing a life-long love of cooking, Jen founded Catalyst Cooks to share that joy with others.  She can’t wait to have fun with you at Cooks of Crocus Hill or at Parley Lake Winery where she manages the tasting room. www.catalystcooks.com

Becky Caterine began her culinary career by helping her mom with lavish dinner parties when she was young, a tradition and practice she continues into adulthood. She studied art history, attended culinary school in Minneapolis and then spent 10 years teaching at Kitchen Window here in the Twin Cities. She began teaching kids classes and graduated to adults where she learned that drunk adults with knives are far worse than any kids! Italian cooking is her specialty but enjoys candy making and cake decorating where she can combine art and food. “We eat with our eyes as well as our mouths”.

Antonio Cecconi is a native of Italy and the author of many cookbooks including Betty Crocker’s Italian Cooking. He’s been living the culinary dream, cooking and sharing his insights for longer than he would care to admit. Besides, you would just be jealous.

Carrie Franzen has been a member of the Cooks family for almost 10 years. She started working with us while in culinary school. As her career blossomed, she never forgot her friends. She is the former pastry chef for jP American Bistro and currently teaches baking at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school.

Roy Goslin is an entrepreneurial spirit with a deep appreciation and passion for food and wine. A professional Business and Leadership Consultant, he spent his early years in business in the wine industry of South Africa. He has been cooking for more than forty years, including three years running a small restaurant in Cape Town in partnership with his eldest son. His latest venture, Z Wines USA, brings together his passion for food and wine and his international business experience. www.zwinesusa.com

Tammy Haas is a former registered nurse and trial lawyer. A self-taught cook, she has spent the last 40 years devouring cookbooks, honing global cooking skills and developing recipes. Her cooking style combines classic techniques with impeccably fresh ingredients, and the enthusiastic belief that food is always a celebration that should be shared with family and friends.

Zehorit Heilicher was born in Israel to a Yemenite immigrant family. Growing up in multi-cultural Givat Olga, she experienced Israel’s rich ethnic diversity through food and celebration. Following high school graduation, Zehorit Joined the Israeli army, where she became an officer, finishing her service as a lieutenant. She then majored in English Literature and Political Science at the Tel Aviv University. While working in a Minneapolis summer camp she met her husband and relocated. Since then Zehorit has been raising her 4 children, teaching cooking classes in both the Jewish and the general communities and volunteering. Zehorit brings to the kitchen her Mediterranean roots, her passion for healthy and flavorful dishes and her love of people and storytelling. Teaching in the Twin cities for the past 10 years, she shares her appreciation for the way in which culture, geography and history shape our food and the way we gather to eat it.

Jonathan Kaye originally from Australia, travels extensively throughout the world researching and learning about foods and cultures. But while he’s home, he teaches cuisines across cultures at Le Cordon Bleu and here at Cooks, including an award-winning sushi class. Jonathan has worked in various restaurants on the east coast including Union Square Cafe in New York City. He also worked as sous chef at W.A. Frost in the Twin Cities.

Van Keszler is a chef instructor at Le Cordon Bleu. He’s helped to educate a large portion of the professional chefs working in the Twin Cities. His first love is helping students become well versed in the basics of culinary technique.

William Lendway is a Certified Chef de Cuisine with the American Culinary Federation and has worked over 25 years in the culinary field. He is also a Registered Dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), is a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota and holds a Master of Science degree in human nutrition. He is currently an instructor at the International Cooking School at the Art Institutes International in Minneapolis. Chef William also gives classes and seminars for clubs, schools and private companies, does private consulting for menu design and school foodservice, and has interned with the Emily Program.

Manfred Krug has been an instructor in the Culinary Arts Department at Saint Paul College since 1986. He enjoys the wide variety of subjects that he teaches – from “breaking down a side of beef to flipping over-easy eggs.” Chef Krug has received the Silver Medal from the National Restaurant Show in Chicago, and also an award in Fish and Seafood Cookery from the Upper Midwest Hospitality Show in Minneapolis. He is a graduate of the Saint Paul College Culinary Arts Program (1980) and received an additional degree and culinary training at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Hyde Park New York, AOS Degree 1983. Upon completion of the CIA, he was awarded a European Internship and spent 1 year at the prestigious Park Hotel in Frankfurt Germany. He also received his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Wisconsin Stout in Hospitality Management in 1985. When he’s not working, he enjoys golfing and outdoor activities with his family and friends.

Cynthia Maxwell started baking as a child. Her mom would let her experiment and throw stuff in a bowl to see what would happen. She became a certified baking and pastry chef from the Art Institute International. Cynthia then dabbled in all areas of the sweet world as pastry chef at Vincent a Restaurant, Baker at Tillie’s Bean, pastry chef at Design Cuisine Catering, Baker at Birchwood Café and with us here at Cooks of Crocus Hill. She loves how happy desserts make people and thinks even when dinner is a disastrous ruin, a good dessert will save the meal. Nothing says love like a warm chocolate chip cookie.

Randi Madden is a self-taught baker and cook, though she’s working toward a baking certificate from St. Paul College. Her Chocolate Cherry Walnut Bars, Summer Daisy Cake, Gluten-free Espresso Cookies and Almond Muffins all placed in the 2011 Minnesota State Fair. She currently lives in St. Paul with her two loyal cats Nigel and Mitts.

Leslee Miller is a dually certified Sommelier through the International Sommelier Guild & Court of Master Sommeliers. She is the sole owner of Amusée (www.amuseewine.com) based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After having spent time in the Pacific Northwest, working as director to Archery Summit Winery in Oregon and Board of Directors Member for sister winery, Pine Ridge of Napa ~ Leslee has returned to her Midwest roots, yet continues to work in her industry across the globe. www.amuseewine.com

Colin Murray has over 20 years of cooking experience and 10 years of kitchen management experience. He has served as the Executive Chef at SEVEN Sushi Steakhouse Ultralounge & Skybar and Chef du Canine for Barkley’s Bistro and is now the Chef and Owner of Wandering Kitchen. Chef Colin graduated from Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 2001. His motto is simple: Enjoy everything life has to offer… immerse one’s self in the love of food, family and friends. He brings this and his passion for fresh simple food to his classes with us here at Cooks.

Kevin Ryan’s day job is developing new products as a food scientist for General Mills. He holds a master’s degree in food anthropology and a Ph.D. in food science. Kevin served as an advisor to Cook’s Illustrated and authored the cookbook Why It Works: Insider Secrets to Great Food. In addition, he was an owner/operator of a catering business for five years. If that were not enough, Kevin is a wonderful teacher and he’s been plying his craft at Cooks for more than five years.

Jeremy Reinicke did a stint at COPIA “The American Center for Wine Food and the Arts” in California’s Napa Valley, but returned to Minneapolis and accepted a position at the downtown tapas hot spot, Solera. Later he jumped at the chance to come on board with the crew at Cooks of Crocus Hill as the Cooking School Coordinator for the Edina location. Now he is a Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

Suzanne Schilling was the executive chef and owner of Suzanne’s Cuisine, a catering company, for 32 years. During that time she had food and wine contracts with 4 banquet locations as well as food contracts with Hey City Theater, Guthrie Theater and Minnesota Public Radio to handle Garrison Keillor’s block parties. Since her retirement in 2007, she has been teaching culinary classes. She has trained in Mexico with Diana Kennedy and Susanna Trilling. In the fall of 2014 she will also be training in the Apennines of Bologna and Modena Italy. She has been a guest chef on Showcase Minnesota and Kare 11 Today Show.

John Seal has managed restaurants such as Cocolezzone, The St. Paul Grill and Pazzaluna. He now works at The Chianti Grille. John has been our single malt Scotch whiskey guru for as long as we’ve been friends.

Mike Shannon is one of our resident southern food resources. Prior to joining us, Mike left the dusty world of mechanical engineering to pursue a verdant, culinary life. He is a Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School graduate and leads our culinary programs.

Bonnie Sparrman inspires her students to bake and cook for the sole purpose of loving food and those we feed.  Her years of culinary teaching experience bring breadth and depth to creative food preparation.  Her style is approachable and infused with fresh and practical ideas gained while Bonnie studied in Sweden.

John Sugimura is a Minnesota-born, Japanese-raised, second-generation, professionally-trained sushi chef and educator. He is well versed and possesses a keen insight into Japanese culture, traditions, and the art of sushi. Not long ago, as a protege of the revered master sushi chef Katsuya, Sugimura apprenticed in Katsuya’s Little Tokyo School. He also worked in Katsuya’s California restaurants in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Glendale, and Brentwood before returning to Minnesota. His love of sushi is lifelong, blossoming in Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, Japan.

Peter Tignor is our Director of School Operations and a Chef Instructor at Cooks. He has a particular passion for local and seasonal flavors, but enjoys cooking and teaching every kind of cuisine imaginable. His formal training was at the Baltimore Culinary College. Peter has learned some of the most valuable and interesting things about cooking and food from chefs he’s worked under at some of the finest hotels in Chicago and Atlanta, and while running B&B’s in Kennebunkport, Jackson Hole and Asheville.

Kevin Wencel has been a chef in many kitchens around town, including Alma and at Highland Grill, Edina Grill and Longfellow Grill. He was previously cooking school director here at Cooks. He is a wonderful food writer and culinary educator.

Jeff Woodward originally trained in French cuisine, but the style of his cooking has varied over the decades. He was part of a movement of classically trained chefs across the nation who took interest in the emerging natural/whole food movement back in the 70s. They brought their understanding of cooking methods to the unfamiliar grains, beans and vegetables that started showing up in food co-ops at the time. What has not changed over the years is Jeff’s commitment to using the highest quality organic produce, grains, beans and animal foods that he can find. While his teaching style is entertaining and fun (he has a theater background) his cooking style is minimalist. He uses the best ingredients with simple cooking methods so the food is always the star.

Deb Yanker Black is a 20 year veteran of the wine business and enjoys bringing her international knowledge of wines and vines (and stems!) back home to her neighbors at Cook’s. She is a wine representative of The Wine Company of St. Paul. www.artisanvineyards.com

Terry John Zila teaches cooking classes throughout the Twin Cities, and operates johnjeanjuan, a special-occasion cake business. He is a member of the IACP, and a master gardener for The Home Depot.