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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.