MEET OUR COOKING SCHOOL CHEFS
Katie Averill knew she wanted to attend culinary school two years into her college education. Upon graduating from UCLA with a degree in Mass Communication Studies, Katie moved to San Francisco . She attended the chef training program at the California Culinary Academy and graduated with honors. Katie continued to learn under Gary Danko as a pastry stagier at the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco. From there she was hired at Bix as the Assistant Pastry Chef and was promoted to Chef within months. Katie left Bix after a year and moved back to her hometown in San Diego . She became Pastry Chef at both of Douglas Organ’s award winning restaurants conjointly; they were the Wine cellar & Brasserie and Laurel. Finding it difficult to grow as a chef in San Diego , Katie moved to Las Vegas where several of America ‘s top chefs were opening restaurants. Katie was immediately hired to be on the opening team of Charlie Palmer’s Aureole in Mandalay Bay Hotel. After a year, Katie was approached by Todd English of Olives (Boston and Las Vegas) who offered her the Pastry Chef position at a future third Olives in Washington, D.C. Katie opened Olives D.C. in November 1999. While at Olives, Katie was nominated for “Pastry Chef of the Year 2001” by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. In 2002 Katie returned to Southern California where she became a Chef Instructor at the Art Institute of California – Orange County . Katie instructed future professional chefs in hot line, pastry, and bread courses. Katie soon found the location where she wanted to build her own restaurant in Monarch Beach , California . Katie’s Mirabeau restaurant, an authentic French Bistro, opened in January 2003. Katie was co-chef/owner, manager, accountant, publicist and baker in this bustling bistro which was named one of the top ten bistros in North America by Food & Wine Magazine in October 2003 Katie was nominated for Business Woman of the Year 2004 by the Orange County Business Journal. Katie sold the restaurant in January 2007 and became a Chef Instructor once again at the Art Institute of California – Orange County . Katie currently continues to teach and contributes a monthly column to Great Taste Magazine. Katie resides in beautiful Laguna Beach , California .
Born in India and raised in New Jersey, Shachi Mehra has spent time all over India and has lived across the US, from Washington DC to Texas and California. She credits her parents and family for her love of food and appreciation for balance, in flavors and in life. Chef Mehra believes that we never stop learning; this philosophy combined with her background and experiences at some of the finest restaurants in the country, enable her to blend her Indian and Western cultures to create artful dishes that successfully marry tradition with modernity. She now calls Southern California home; from opening Tamarind of London in Newport as their Executive Chef, to currently teaching, consulting and working on opening a restaurant of her own.
Adam Deschambault takes inspiration from his childhood growing up on the coast of Maine; utilizing the freshest seafood, local produce and seasonal game to create a unique but simple cuisine. He started his career at the age of fourteen working at a family owned restaurant as a dishwasher. He progressed through the stations of the kitchen becoming more and more engrossed with the culinary arts. Over the past eighteen years Adam has worked for many globally renowned restaurant and luxury hotel groups such as the Ritz Carlton where he trained for six months with Master Sushi Chef Tadashi Yoshino in classical Japanese techniques. Chef Adams tenet is to let the natural flavors speak for themselves; they only need small choirs…Not a brass band. Salt, pepper and spic help bring nature to our lips but they should not dictate how we perceive it.
Jill Lawrence spent the first twenty years of her career working in the events industry. She organized conventions, trade shows, book signings, golf tournaments, concerts, radio shows for NPR, and more! After working with such celebrities as Annette Bening, John Goodman, Ed Asner, and Richard Dreyfuss, Jill followed her passion for cooking and went back to receive her third degree, and graduated with dean’s honor from the Art Institute, Orange County.
Collecting experience from various restaurants and catering companies, Jill branched out and created Culinary Campus. Culinary Campus exists primarily to link seasoned career chefs with corporate or private principals needing an experienced professional to seamlessly satisfy all culinary needs, including personal chefs, caterers, and chef instructors.
Jill’s cooking career took an interesting turn when she found out she had the early symptoms of arthritis. Refusing to accept taking a pill everyday for pain, she researched how to heal by changing her diet, and has since become an expert in cooking gluten free.
In addition to being a personal chef, Jill currently teaches at various institutions, including UC Irvine and Eat Street Culinary.
Chef Eda Vesterman holds a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Boston University, where she interned at Boston Medical Center.
Chef Vesterman’s early professional culinary experience includes serving as Sous Chef at Moomba in Los Angeles, Executive Chef at Bomboa, a Latin Fusion Restaurant in Boston, as well as Chef de Cuisine of Boston’s Global Gourmet Catering Company. Eda worked with The Patina Group, an award-winning restaurant that caters Oscar and Emmy events. More recently, Eda was the Executive Chef for West Central Produce, a produce vendor, supplying high quality produce for restaurants on the west side of the country.
Chef Vesterman is a published academic, who teaches in the Culinary and Liberal Studies Department of the Art Institute of California – Los Angeles. She is currently working on her classical and healthy cook book.
“How do I sum up my philosophy? I place the emphasis on local ingredients prepared in a fresh and simple manner. I’d like to promote the idea that healthy meals can also be a great and enjoyable experience.”
James Chavez is the Executive Chef at Agio Ristorante at the DoubleTree Hotel in Anaheim, and he is dedicated to being dedicated. Chef Chavez grew up in La Puente, CA with very little. His culinary influence came to him at a young age: His mother cooked and served food for a local Catholic priesthood. James, however, dreamed of joining the Navy and following in the tradition of his family serving in the armed forces. However, asthma kept him from realizing his dream of enlistment, so he turned to what was comfortable – and he began cooking. James started his culinary career as if he were shot out of a gun. He began attending culinary school while still finishing his high school studies, and at eighteen, he took his first Executive Chef position at Sacred Heart Retreat House, and has since worked in various kitchens across Orange County and L.A.