Clémence, a great lover of sweets, was born in Paris. A frequent patron of pastry shops, she quickly developed a palate for all things flaky, buttery, sweet and chocolatey. At eight, Clémence moved with her family to Washington, DC, where she spent year perfecting her croquembouche and chocolate chip cookies. Her summers were spent training for dishwashing olympics in her grandparent’s Auberge in the Luberon region of France, and at age 11, she made a cake that made its way onto the dessert table.
After years of baking, Clémence took a break and went off to Syracuse to study film and anthropology. She moved to L.A., worked at Fox and met the most delicious friends who encouraged her to start a dessert company (typing was clearly not a skill honed in the kitchen). Gourmandise was born out of a kitchen in Venice, and The Gourmandise School grew out of a passion for teaching the company’s favorite recipes. 6 years and many satellite kitchen classrooms later, Clémence met Hadley in one of her classes. In 2011, the two opened The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica, CA.
Clémence lives in a delicious house with her children Malcolm, Olivia and Xavier. Clémence is also a food writer, Master Food Preserver, recipe developer and food consultant. And chocolate lover.
Gill Boyd has been in the food and hospitality business for thirty two years. He began working in hotels as dishwasher and line cook in suburban Washington D.C. After High school he attended Johnson and Wales University receiving an Associates of Science in Culinary Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Food Service Management.
He attended Cordon Bleu Paris and completed an externship in England. He worked in New York City in small restaurants and catering operations. Gill has taught at Le Cordon Bleu Los Angeles for nine and half years during that time he was the Head Chef of the Farmers Kitchen in Hollywood. Recently he completed a Master Degree in Business Administration and Certificate in Gastronomy; he is a Certified Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Administrator.
Gill is the chef owner of Gills Meals which sells prepackaged healthy seasonal food at three farmers markets. He does cooking demonstrations emphasizing simple recipes that are seasonal with a minimal amount of ingredients.
LA-based Celebrity Chef Gino is a native of Parma, a city known as the true culinary breadbasket of Italy .
A dynamic TV personality and an exuberant MC, Chef Gino has been using his contagious energy to raise American Families' Food IQ for the last 18 years.
Chef Gino is currently working on the second season of the ground breaking reality series on A&E "Born This Way".
He's the host of AOL.COM's Kitchen Kids, a regular guest on NBC.com's Garden Party, the spokesperson for the Got Milk? campaign. He blogs about food for the Huffington Post, has worked with Food personalities like Rachael Ray and Jamie Oliver and participated in Michelle Obama's campaign "Chefs Move to School".
He has hosted Gino's Kitchen for the Disney Channel and starred in the Italian prime time cooking show "La prova del cuoco".
Chef Janet Crandall grew up in the restaurant business - her parents owned and ran a cafe for 38 years. She spent her 20's in the beauty industry as a makeup artist and Salon/Spa manager. In 2003 she traded in her brushes for a knife kit, attending the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center). Recognizing her advanced talent, upon graduating she was recruited by FCI as an Assistant Chef and rose to Chef Instructor. Among her colleagues were the kings of the culinary world, the famous and esteemed Chef Jacques Pepin, Chef André Soltner, Chef Jacques Torres, Chef Cesare Casella and Chef Alain Sailhac.
Next, Chef Janet became an expert butcher. She has been the subject of several profiles including in The Philadelphia Enquirer, Grid Magazine and others. Chef Janet worked for the famous Pat LaFrieda and served as the Executive Chef and Head Butcher for Wyebrook Farm, a farm, market, restaurant and events center in Honey Brook, PA.
Chef Jamie lives, plays, and bakes in Venice, California. Jamie grew up in Miami Beach, Florida where early on she showed a passion and talent for baking and pastries. Jamie grew up enjoying the relaxed and cosmopolitan lifestyle the beach city offered and learning to cook from her mother and grandmother.
After graduating from Emory University with a BA degree, Jamie received an Associates Degree from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Jamie was awarded the 1998 Women Chefs and Restaurateurs Scholarship, which enabled her to continue her culinary education at the CIA Greystone Campus in the Napa Valley, CA. After receiving a Certificate in Baking and Pastry Arts, she began work at The French Laundry restaurant as Chef de Partie alongside James Beard Award recipient chef Thomas Keller, and Pastry Chef of the Year Award recipient Stephen Durfee. In late 2001 after several years at the French Laundry and a brief sojourn in Dallas, Texas, Jamie decided to follow her sweet tooth and moved to Los Angeles to begin platine bake shop.
“What is your favorite thing to make?” she consistently replied – “cookies!” Chef Jamie combines the high standards that she learned in her formal training along with a great deal of passion and a sense of humor.
He was the kid who ran home from school to whip up his own after school snack, to make tomato soup from scratch or homebaked bread for his grilled cheese. Summers? In the garden growing salad and tomatoes in the rich black loam of his native Minnesota. After heading to college and on to building his own family his interest in the foods of the home developed as he was surrounded by great family cooks from the Caribbean, American SouthWest, Mexico, and the America South.
With a deep love of the foods of America, he enjoys culinary trips to the Southwest and South to learn about the culinary traditions in our own country. After more than a decade in the corporate world, Chef John returned to his great passion of food finding a position with a well known Culver City Restaurant Supply House, the perfect venue to develop and share his love of food. By repurposing an underused showcase kitchen he invited local chefs, cookbook authors and culinary instructors to use the space to share and teach. The idea was a hit giving Chef John the opportunity to hone his skills with chefs including Roy Choi (Kogi BBQ, A-Frame), Jason Neroni (Superba Snack Bar), Ray Garcia (Fig), Josiah Citrin (Melisse), the founders of Tacos Puntas Cabras, Farmer Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms, and cookbook authors Jacquay Pfieiffer (the Kings of Pastry) and Martha Rose Shulman (The Art of Vegetarian Cooking and NY Times Health Editor), Kevin West of Saving the Seasons and the Grand Dame of Southern Cooking Nathalie DuPree.
May Hennemann was born in Brooklyn, raised in St. Louis and is of Thai/Burmese/Chinese decent. Spending summers with family in Asia, she developed her love of Asian street food. Combined with a love for Julia Childs and curiosity about the culture of food, family and country, she decided to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY six months after graduating from the University of Chicago. This eventually brought her to Los Angeles and a 16 year career in culinary education specializing in everything from classical French technique to Asian dumplings.
Ruth Kennison studied the art of being a chocolatier at The French Pastry School, the Callebaut Chocolate Academy, as well under M.O.F. Stephane Treand. Her infatuation with chocolate began with her first job in high school at a prominent sweets shop in Boston, where she grew up. Since then, Ruth has followed her dessert passions around the world – taste-tasting vanilla beans in Tahiti, selling homemade madeleines in Sydney, honing her chocolate skills in Asia alongside a former pastry chef from Spain’s El Bulli Restaurant and with chocolate greats in Paris.
Most recently, Ruth has been traveling around the “chocolate belt” of the equator learning as much as she can about where our beautiful chocolate comes from. Ruth has a passion for educating both children and adults about every aspect of the cocoa bean. Ruth launched her own chocolate company and website called Bonaparte Chocolate and she insists that all her new concoctions be tested by her husband, David, and son, Sebastian. View her website at www.thechocolate-project.com
Danielle Raymond's affinity for good food started at a young age, gardening with her mom and experimenting with fresh ingredients. Danielle went on to become an attorney, but found herself most happy when throwing dinner parties and teaching friends how to cook. She decided to follow her passion for food and leave her law career to attend culinary school. She began her cooking endeavors in the television world, working her way up to Culinary Producer on cooking shows. While working on the television show Man vs. Child, Danielle found a newfound passion for teaching kids. Danielle now works as a culinary instructor, specializing in taking the fear out of cooking and helping kids and adults find their inner chef. She loves to cook with local, seasonal, healthy ingredients and create delicious food everyone in the family will love.
Sonoko Sakai was born in New York, and raised in many places - Tokyo, Kamakura, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Mexico City. Sonoko is a food writer, author, Japanese cooking teacher, and noodle maker based in Los Angeles. She has also been working on a project to revive heirloom grains in the Southern California region with a seed grant from Anson Mills. All these activities fall under her project – Common Grains, which aims to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for food and culture. Within this mission, Sonoko advocates a sustainable and healthy lifestyle with grains and vegetables at the heart of a meal.
Sonoko’s first cookbook, The Poetical Pursuit of Food: Japanese Recipes for American Cooks was published by Clarkson Potter in 1986; her new cookbook RICECRAFT will be published by Chronicle Books in the Fall of 2016.
Sonoko has contributed articles to the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Saveur, and Zester Daily. She has made appearances on both local and national television cooking programs and interviewed on radio programs, including KCRW’s Good Food and NPRs’ The World. She has taught cooking classes all over the United States, Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong. She lives with her husband, dog and three cats in Los Angeles and Tehachapi.
Carol Cotner Thompson
Carol has been cooking professionally for over thirty years. Since graduating from the California Culinary Academy’s professional cooking and pastry programs in 1985, she has cooked in many notable restaurants and developed a substantial resumé as a pastry chef, private chef, consultant, food stylist, caterer, blogger, on-camera chef, recipe developer and marketing consultant for print and on-camera productions. For the past twenty-four years, she has taught at the Epicurean School, L’Academie de Cuisine, the New School of Cooking and The Gourmandise School. Carol’s love of travel takes her once a year, as guest chef, to Raison d’art Retreats (raisondartretreats.com) in Catalonia, Spain. In addition, she co-owns californiaculinaryretreats.com. Carol currently teaches private cooking classes and caters custom designed events and dinner parties. Carolcotnerthompson.com
Laura Weinman was born in New York and transplanted to LA in her teens. She grew up in a large family in which it all happened at the dinner table with beautiful seasonal foods from farm stands and fishing trips as well as the occasional fine dining experiences. She studied philosophy at Georgetown University, but decided that her greatest joy came from the making and sharing of great food. Her long career includes work in restaurants, hotels, private homes and corporate dining rooms as a baker, cook and caterer. After receiving her culinary education at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Laura opened Mary’s Lamb in Sherman Oaks CA, one of the first market/restaurant/catering concepts. She’s also been a private chef for a celebrated and healthful LA clientele. “There are so many great ways to use this skill set,” Chef Laura is quick to point out, not the least of which is in the teaching kitchens which she has done for the last 25 years. In addition to raising 4 kids, Chef Laura also dedicates her skills to the vocational training at St joseph’s in Venice so that under served students may develop marketable skills and be placed in LA restaurants.
Christianne Winthrop's culinary career began in early 2009, when she left her job in commercial real estate to focus on food. Since then, she has launched her own boutique food services company, specializing in modern American cuisine with a healthy twist. Services include recipe testing and development, small event catering and cooking classes both in-home and at several locations throughout LA and Orange County.
When Christianne isn't teaching or catering, she is a freelance food writer and recipe developer with credits in The Los Angeles Times, Disney.com’s “Magic of Healthy Living,” BrainWorld magazine, SeriousEats.com and CBS Local's "Best of LA" website. As well as graduating with highest honors from Le Cordon Bleu’s Hollywood culinary program, Christianne holds a BA in English from UC Davis and studied playwriting at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. She currently lives in Long Beach with her husband Bob. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.
Saengthong Douangdara was born in a refugee camp based in Thailand where his parents fled Laos after the Vietnam War. His family settled in Wisconsin. Growing up in the Midwest, he developed his love for Lao cuisine from his mom's home cooked food. He helped his mom in the kitchen while observing her traditional Lao cooking techniques. He began cooking for others when he attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison where people noticed his passion for sharing his culture and history through food. His drive to explore more food adventures brought him to Hawaii where he attended graduate school at UH Hilo, and he gained extensive knowledge and techniques rooted in Hawaii.
With over 10 years of cooking experience, he pursued his passion in teaching people how to cook. While exploring the world, he gained an appreciation and love in specializing in Korean fermentation, Hawaiian food, and Lao food. He has cooked and taught at UCLA, UC Irvine, Whole Foods, and celebrity events. His drive to connect with people through food brought him to Los Angeles where he teaches interactive and fun cooking classes that go into the history, culture, and science of several cuisines around the world. Follow him on Instagram @saengskitchen.