Cricket Azima: Founder
Cricket Azima is a dynamic professional chef who specializes in cooking for and with children. Her children’s cookbook, Everybody Eats Lunch, was published by Glitterati Inc., in May, 2008. She works with a variety of food companies offering a range of services including spokesperson, recipe development and testing, freelance writing, teaching, family outreach, blogging (as part of the Cooking Light Blogger’s Community), creating webisodes (from soup to nuts), special events, and consulting. She has worked with General Mills (Betty Crocker and Bisquick) FoodNetwork.com, IVillage, Fruit Simple, Head Chefs and Kellogg’s. Additionally, Cricket has consulted for a number of kids’ foods brands.
Since 1999, Cricket has been teaching cooking classes to children of all ages at various locations in New York City, including schools, Whole Foods Market, The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, City Treehouse, Girl Scout groups, as well as privately held classes. Cricket has developed curricula for multiple schools and after-school programs. As an instructor, Cricket is one of a kind. She strives to teach more than a recipe or basic cooking technique, with a teaching philosophy that is based on the educational benefits of cooking. Cricket believes that kids can learn about more than just food while in the kitchen classroom, whether that’s history, geography, math, reading, social studies, nutrition, science, foreign language, or art.
Cricket developed her teaching philosophy while pursuing her master’s degree in Food Studies and Food Management at New York University (NYU). Her thesis, which focused on the benefits of teaching cooking to children, led her to launch The Creative Kitchen™ in 2003 (www.thecreativekitchen.com). Her method of cooking instruction and food education is designed to inspire children to learn and express themselves creatively in the kitchen, while reinforcing traditional education disciplines.
The Creative Kitchen founded the Kids Food Festival (www.kidsfoodfestival.com), a celebration to educate children on how to make balanced food choices. The events serve as efforts to prevent childhood obesity through fun programming and entertainment for families. The Kids Food Festival partners with Cooking Light magazine and the James Beard Foundation.
Everybody Can Cook is a complete cooking curriculum that Cricket masterminded, to supplement the lessons of teachers of special needs children in a fun, engaging way. The program includes recipes, lesson plans, adaptations for various abilities, teacher and parent components, food ordering system, classroom cooking kits, and more.
Cricket acted as a contributor to iVillage, an online content driven community for women. She advised as the Family and Children’s Editor for The Nibble, an online magazine about specialty foods. She served as the Food Editor of KIWI Magazine, a family magazine focused on healthy and organic living. She was also the Director of Kids’ Programs for Kidfresh, an innovative company in New York City offering all natural, freshly prepared foods for kids.
Cricket is a graduate of Boston University, NYU, and Peter Kump’s New York Culinary School (now, The Institute of Culinary Education). Following graduation, she served as a professor of food studies and an academic advisor at NYU.
Abbie Gellman: CFO (Bean Counter) & Director of Nutrition
Abbie Gellman has over 12 years of consulting and equity research experience. Abbie spent several years in the Hospitality & Leisure consulting division of PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she performed financial and operational consulting for a wide range of hotel and food and beverage companies. Eventually she moved to Wall Street and spent several years as a Senior Associate in equity research. She covered the restaurant industry sector at Harris Nesbitt/Bank of Montreal, Thomas Weisel Partners, and Goldman Sachs. Abbie left Wall Street in 2007 to spend more time with her family. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Registered Dietitian certification from Columbia University. Abbie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. In addition, she also earned her Culinary Degree from Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School (now known as the Institute of Culinary Education
Candice Batson: Kids Cooking Conductor (aka The Kid Food Processor)
Candice leads The Creative Kitchen teaching team and coordinates cooking classes, parties and playdates throughout NYC. Her passion for children and cooking has amounted to several years experience working with youth; mentoring children with special needs at St. Christopher Ottilie Residential Treatment Facility, teaching pre-school and tutoring children of varying ages and abilities. Candice is also a budding foodie and writes a blog for the inexperienced cook, Cooks Curiosity. She holds her B.A. in Communications Arts and Business from The College of New Rochelle.
Sydney Borlabi: Blog Editor & Marketing Manager
Sydney comes to the TCK and KFF family with a background in marketing, with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration for Colorado State University. Over the years Sydney has coached and taught children in sports camps, and much of that has let to good nutrition and fight childhood obesity with food and exercise. She also has helped edit our website and blog. Sydney is a person with many chef hats and has helped us in every area.
Elizabeth Ingriselli: Volunteer Sifter & Website Whisker
Elizabeth has sliced and diced her way into the KFF kitchen with five years of experience teaching kids tennis and 23 years of experience loving and appreciating food. She got her A.B. in psychology from Princeton University where she learned the importance of teaching kids good habits at a young age. What do you get when you sift and blend a psychology background, love of food, and love of children? Someone who eagerly wants to help teach kids balanced eating habits! To help KFF do this, Elizabeth organizes the volunteers for the festival, writes for the KFF blog, and helps maintain social media.
Outside of the KFF kitchen Elizabeth researches juries and works for a tennis organization. She is also an avid food photographer and blogger, eating and writing her way across NYC.
Katie Auerbach: General Kitchen Aide
Katie comes to the KFF team with a background in educating children, as well as a love of great food. Katie graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2011. She has used the skills and knowledge gained from her degree to tutor young children, teach essential skills to elementary school students, and assist and empower abused youth. Besides her enthusiasm for education, over the recent years Katie has developed a passion for food and nutrition. The Kids Food Festival has managed to combine her seemingly separate interests in extremely exciting and inspiring way, and as such, she is ecstatic to have the opportunity to be a part of such an incredible event!
Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer: The Kitchen Whisperer
Gabrielle is delighted to now be working with Cricket, leading cooking workshops for special education teachers, therapists and parents. As a cooking instructor, educator, mom of two and author of the children’s cookbook The Kitchen Classroom: 32 Visual GF/CF Recipes to Boost Developmental Skills, Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer shares easy strategies to help parents and teachers connect and communicate through the cooking process. Gabrielle has taught inclusive cooking classes for Special Olympics, Friendship Circle and other programs, working with children of all abilities. Cooking has been one of the most important processes that has helped her son George, who has autism, learn to focus, work on reading and build relationships. Gabrielle currently serves as Special Needs Resources Director at Jewish Learning Venture, an agency that serves schools in the Jewish community, in Philadelphia.
Victoria Nastri: Chef of All Things Soup to Nuts
What happens when you combine a tablespoon of education experience, a teaspoon of sales & marketing experience, and a pinch of food appreciation? You get someone who wants to promote an event that educates kids about balanced food choices! So of course, Victoria joined the Kids Food Festival and has since been cooking up a storm by helping the Big Cheese organize the team and brew-up our strategic alliances and partners for a tasty festival!
Victoria enters the Kids Food Festival “Kitchen” after almost twenty years of working within both corporate America and education landscapes through her work in student affairs at the University of Pennsylvania and Rosemont College followed by her most recent position at Viacom Media Networks. While at mtvU, MTV’s college channel, she served as the liaison between the partner campuses and the network’s Production, Integrated Marketing, Public Affairs, and Advertising Sales departments ensuring schools take advantage of mtvU’s student oriented programming and pro-social initiatives. Prior to mtvU, Victoria worked at the University of Pennsylvania and Rosemont College, where she developed leadership programs and produced campus-wide special events and festivals for undergraduate students.
Victoria resides in New York City and in her nonexistent spare time she is an avid baker (cookies are her specialty), as well as enjoys relaxing with the Wine Club she co-founded. Victoria has a B.A. in political science from Rosemont College and an M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Ghazalle Badiozamani: Director of Photography
Ghazalle Badiozamani is a Persian-born, California-raised, Brooklyn-dwelling, editorial and commercial photographer. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Illustration Photography from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and has been working in the commercial photography industry in NYC for the past 10 years. She has photographed projects ranging from family oriented cookbooks to globally distributed product packaging. Ghazalle brings her broad experience in food, still life and lifestyle photography to the Kids Food Festival. She manages a team of photographers documenting all the festival’s events and provides all images for press and publications. View here galleries at: www.ghazallephotography.com.
Titus Thomas: Artist
Titus Thomas freelanced as a Research Artist for critically acclaimed shows such as, Little Bill, based on the series by Bill Cosby, Dora the Explorer, and Backyardigans on Nick Jr. He also served as an illustrator and graphic designer for Jolinda Inc., Varcity Clothing, Zinka Clothing, Hollah.com, YSB Magazine, Shadowbox Magazine, SONY College Music, and Atlantic Studios. Titus’s storyboards and character designs have been used in short films entitled Tag, Feather,Esporanza, Mad About Harry, and Nah…Son. Titus also developed educational programs for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the Children’s Theater.
Sherry Adhari, Hostess with the Mostess
Kingston Azima-Martinez, Taste Tester
Board of Advisors:
Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D: Top Salami
Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D. is a classically trained chef and Associate Professor of culinary arts at Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York and public health at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the education editor of the journal Food, Culture and Society and author or editor of five books including (with Annie Hauck-Lawson) Gastropolis: Food and New York City, (with Sarah Billingsley and Cricket Azima) Culinary Improvisation, and (with Jeff Miller) Food Studies: An Introduction to Research Methods. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (AOS, Culinary Arts), Drexel University (BS, Hospitality Management) and New York University (Ph.D., Food Studies and Food Management), he has worked as a chef in a variety of settings including institutions, restaurants and product development, both in the US and abroad. When not in the kitchen, Jonathan can be found playing tuba in community bands around New York City.
Steve Zagor: Director of Management Programs, The Institute of Culinary Education; Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Food Studies, New York University
Steve Zagor has over 25 years of experience in various aspects of the hospitality industry and has extensive financial experience in the planning, development and management of a wide variety of leisure time industry projects with particular emphasis on restaurants and retail food businesses. Steve’s background is diversified including: owner of a multi-concept restaurant/retail/club group; the General Manager of a $10 million NYC restaurant; and owner and managing partner of an award winning limited service restaurant and retail marketplace. He has a Masters Degree from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration and was the Manager of Hospitality Consulting for ten years for Laventhol & Horwath and later for Coopers and Lybrand.
Currently, he is The Director of Management Programs at The Institute of Culinary Education, and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Studies at New York University. He has been quoted in major publications such as Forbes, The New York Times, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Post. Mr. Zagor also appeared as an expert on The Food Network’s Recipes For Success.
Rachel Begun: MS, RD, CDN, Registered Dietitian, Food and Nutrition Communications Expert
Whether writing, speaking, consulting for the food industry or conducting a media interview, Rachel comes to the table with the same philosophy: good nutrition and delicious eating must co-exist for healthy habits to be sustainable. This philosophy is the driving force behind her work with health organizations, food manufacturers and foodservice providers to assist them in developing, implementing and communicating their nutrition and culinary education platforms, products and services. As The Gluten Free RD, a particular area of expertise for Rachel is working alongside chefs and foodservice providers to serve safe and healthful gluten free options for consumers.
As a national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Rachel regularly conducts interviews with the media. She has contributed her knowledge to many outlets, including USA Today, CNN, Consumer Reports, Eating Well, Fitness, Us Weekly, Woman’s Day, Better Homes and Gardens, WebMD.com, Today Health/MSNBC, Shape.com and Doctor Radio Sirius Satellite.
Rachel graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Emory University in Atlanta, GA with a B.A. in biology and a concentration in pre-medical studies. She earned her M.S. degree in nutrition education from Teachers College, Columbia University and completed her internship for registered dietitian certification there as well.
Susan Hosmer: Managing Partner, Bullfrog & Baum
As Managing Partner, Susan Hosmer oversees branding, public relations and marketing for Bullfrog & Baum’s hospitality division where she brings creativity, organization and passion to all client programs. After four years in advertising working with clients such as Microsoft and Coca-Cola, Susan chose to follow her true dream and pursue a career in the ever-evolving world of food. A graduate of The Institute of Culinary Education, Susan worked alongside one of the industry’s top consultants, Clark Wolf, and the world’s great chefs, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. She received her Masters of Arts in Food Studies from New York University where she co-wrote, directed and produced a documentary film exploring women chefs featuring interviews with industry ground-breakers such as Sara Moulton, Patricia Yeo, Ruth Reichl, and Lidia Bastianich. In 2004, Hosmer opened the Los Angeles office of Bullfrog & Baum and helped build a west coast roster of notable clients including Wolfgang Puck, David Myers Group (Sona, Boule, comme Ca); SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills (The Bazaar by Jose Andres); and Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills (Culina). Susan’s diverse experience and love for gastronomy brings a unique perspective to her work at Bullfrog & Baum.
Alison Tozzi Liu: Director of Media, James Beard Foundation
Alison Tozzi Liu is the director of media at the James Beard Foundation. She holds a master’s degree in food studies from New York University and a culinary arts degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She has extensive experience cooking in restaurants, food styling, and editorial work. Alison has developed and tested recipes for several cookbooks including a series of South Beach Diet cookbooks and the children’s cookbookEverybody Eats Lunch. Her writing on food has appeared in the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Kiwi magazine.
Christine Carroll: Founder, CulinaryCorps®
Christine Carroll founded CulinaryCorps® in 2006 with the aim of creating a world-class service organization for culinary professionals.
Christine conceived of CulinaryCorps following a Share Our Strength conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, which she attended as a Henckels Cutting Edge scholarship recipient. In New Orleans, she experienced first-hand one of America’s few indigenous cuisines, and she worked alongside those fighting to preserve it during the post-Katrina rebuilding.
Shortly after her return home to New York City, Christine launched CulinaryCorps to enable culinary students and professionals to volunteer their skills for the benefit of communities in need.
Prior to CulinaryCorps, Christine worked as an Americorps VISTA volunteer in Alaska, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health, a cook in Europe, and a baker in New England. She has a degree in neuroscience from the College of William and Mary and a Grand Diploma in Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute. She recently left the post of Culinary Center Director at Whole Foods Market Bowery
Barbara Beery: Founder, Batter Up Kids Culinary Center and Cookbook Author
With a degree in elementary education, a passion for cooking, and three children of her own, Barbara Beery is the quintessential kids’ cooking instructor and entrepreneur. Frustrated with the “pre-cooked” classes available to kids, Barbara founded Batter Up Kids Culinary Center, with the goal of offering interactive classes that focused on healthier food options. Sixteen years later, Batter Up Kids is a growing franchise, and Barbara is a published author and experienced spokesperson (most recently with Sun-Maid), looking to stir up more opportunity in the kitchen.
Sara Gragnolati: Founder & CEO, Cocomama Foods
Sara is the founder and CEO of Cocomama Foods
Sara’s insight into food trends combined with the ability to negotiate a contract began at a mere six years old when she canvassed her hometown selling Girl Scout Cookies. Realizing her gift for gab, she attended the University of Scranton and earned her degree in Communications. Upon graduation she entered the world of natural & organic products. It only took some hazelnut milk, raw kombucha and local bacon for Sara to become hooked on the business.
Ironically, eight years later she was diagnosed with food allergies. After recognizing that there was a huge lack of nutritious options (and don’t even get her started on taste), Sara decided gluten- and allergy-free consumers like her deserved more than puffed rice and corn flakes. Thus, Cocomama was born.
When not reading recipe books or watching the Food Network, Sara is convincing someone else to cook for her.
Sandy Dirkx: Director of PS116 AfterSchool KidsClubs