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Meet the Team

We are chefs, educators, event designers, and project managers that work together to plan and deliver exceptional culinary experiences for children, families, and corporate teams. Our classes are built upon our love of food, passion for cooking, and our desire to make every event or learning experience a celebration. More than anything, we’re a community of people who love working together. 

Join us in the kitchen!

A team of culinary artists, wearing black shirts, standing together and holding hands for a group photo.
Photo of Vanessa Silva, FOUNDER, CEO & CHEF INSTRUCTOR.

Vanessa Silva


teaching style:

passionate, spirited, innovative, entertaining, playful

Vanessa’s involvement with food started in her grandmother’s kitchen in Brazil, making aioli and shaping gnocchi by hand. From this early inspiration, she began a journey of food education and travel.

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Photo of Jessie Welsh, VP of Events and Operations

Jessie Welsh

VP of Events and Operations

teaching style:

detailed, personable, sincere, supportive

Jessie’s guiding principle is doing impactful work with good people. She blends creativity, critical thinking, and process to design unique and memorable client experiences. 

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Photo of Alicia Faris, Director of Education.

Alicia Faris


teaching style:

holistic, optimistic, lively, restaurant-style teaching methods

Alicia is a holistic nutritionist and culinary educator who finds time spent cooking and sharing nourishing meals the best kind of medicine. 

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Photo of Renee Frojo, Director of Marketing.

Renee Frojo

Director of Marketing

Renee loves hearing people’s stories — and kitchen stories are her favorite. While she has Southern roots, Renee spent her first formative years in Mexico. As a result, her first word was “mas” and she’d  take a bowl of beans & rice over grits any day.

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Photo of Darren Footé, Head Chef and Staffing Manager.

Darren Footé


teaching style:

competent, detailed, humorous, restaurant-style teaching

Darren is a passionate person inside and outside of the kitchen. His love and respect of food began in his childhood growing up on a farm in north Idaho.

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Photo of Rachel Gray, Events Manager and Chef Instructor.

Rachel Gray


teaching style:

fun, upbeat, encouraging

Did you grow up dreaming of being a chef? Well, so did Rachel! Her collegiate path led her to food and catering communities in San Francisco.

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Photo of Rachel Gray, Events Manager and Chef Instructor.

Radu Judele

Fractional CMO

Radu joined Culinary Artistas as a Fractional CMO at the start of 2023. He is the founder of EthicalHq, a boutique consultancy specialising in Marketing & Revenue Operations combined with a healthy infusion of ethical application of Behaviour Science and a coffee fanatic.

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Photo of Eliza Martin, Chef Instructor for Speciality compitition.

Eliza Martin


teaching style:

dedicated, resourceful, enthusiastic, patient, intuitive, constructive, caring

Have you seen the Food Network’s Chopped? Well, Chef Eliza is a Chopped Champion! Eliza has over 10 years of experience working in restaurants all over the country.

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Photo of Jonah, Events intern and Chef Instructor.



teaching style:

patient, calm, supportive, relaxed

Jonah is a high school student who has a deep interest in food, nutrition, wellness, and overall health.

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Photo of Catherine Fallis, Master Sommelier.

Catherine Fallis


Master Sommelier, Catherine Fallis, is the founder of Planet Grape® LLC, a wine consulting firm providing content, reviews, corporate & private tastings, restaurant wine program development, and speaking services.

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