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meet the instructors

Our chef instructors are highly qualified industry professionals from a myriad of backgrounds. We have cookbook authors, restaurant owners, executive chefs, caterers, private cooking teachers, and food editors instructing our many classes. They bring expertise from every aspect of the kitchen, and have experience teaching culinary skills at all levels. Whether you're an expert at caramelizing onions within a cranberry reduction, or you're just grateful to figure out a can opener, our teachers make you feel right at home in our comfortable kitchen. And, of course, the classes follow with a great meal you had a part in preparing!

Jennifer Goren is a proud graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food & Health’s Chef Training Program. Her expertise focuses on health supportive cooking methods using whole foods and converting any recipe into a healthy and scrumptious alternative, while placing emphasis on nutrition and the connection between food and its healing properties. She has prepared meals for guests at Laurel Springs Ranch and Retreat Center in Santa Barbara, California and taught cooking classes to groups with special dietary needs i.e., food allergies, vegan and vegetarian. She’s enjoyed teaching healthy cooking to teenagers at NYC’s Hamilton Madison House, conducted lectures here as well as abroad, and catered for both private and corporate clients through her small business “The Zen Gourmet.” Jennifer is passionate about tasting and teaching all types of cuisine, and is dedicated to maintaining the integrity of Culinary Arts Programming, as well as inspiring new class trends!

Jennifer Felicia Abadi wrote and illustrated her cookbook-memoir, A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes from Grandma's Fritzie's Kitchen, and is currently working on her second book, Writing Your Family Cookbook: A How-To-Guide for Preserving Your Family's Unique Culinary Heritage. She caters for special occasions and bakes for Kiva Café in Tribeca. She recently created "The Traveling Palate"; guests enjoy a four-course meal at a monthly dinner party, and learn about unique cuisines and cultures in an intimate setting. Jennifer can be found teaching courses all over New York City on Jewish cuisines and cultures of Syria, India, Morocco, Greece and Turkey.

Sarah Blair has been working in the food industry since 2005, adding a generous dose of enthusiasm, excitement, and creativity to the many food professions she has sampled. This New York City journey has entailed working in a food public relations firm, receiving a professional degree from culinary school, interning at a culinary magazine for industry professionals, externing at Food Network, being a member of the kitchen staff of an acclaimed NYC restaurant, and most recently working as an instructor at a cooking school for non-professionals.

Prior to city life, Sarah’s rural New Hampshire upbringing paved the way for an extraordinary career in food. She grew up in her family’s vegetable garden, fruit orchards, and berry patches, eating, cultivating, and appreciating nature. Sarah then received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where locally grown produce and her search for the ultimate taqueria became a mainstay in her collegiate experience.

Dr. Laurie Brodsky is the energetic new face of Naturopathic Medicine in Manhattan. As a graduate from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Dr. Brodsky is a leading expert in the field of Holistic Medicine with a unique spin on health and wellness using her natural prescription pad. In her women's health and pediatric-based practice, Dr. Brodsky uses a variety of gentle, safe and effective all-natural therapies including nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, vitamin and nutrient therapies, diet and lifestyle counseling, hydrotherapy, botanical remedies and homeopathic medicines that allow the body to heal from the inside out.

As part of her social outreach, Dr. Brodsky regularly contributes to renowned journals and online health sites, and has been featured on numerous radio shows to discuss health in the media. Outside of practice, Dr. Brodsky’s passion for eradicating childhood diabesity lead her to create the Healthy Tummy Initiative, a program that sends doctors into the classrooms teaching students, teachers and parents how to make healthier nutritional choices in a fun, informative and tasty way. In her spare time, she loves to cook, take yoga and spin classes, and shop at local Farmer’s Markets for fresh and nutritious foods. Dr. Brodsky is currently welcoming new patients to her practice.

Wai Chu

Wai Chu is a cookbook author and cooking instructor. He recently completed his first cookbook The Dumpling: A Seasonal Guide to be published by HarperCollins in October 2009. The book includes over 130 traditional recipes from around the world. Previously, he was the owner and chef of El Eden Chocolates, makers of handcrafted chocolates in New York’s East Village. He currently teaches a variety of cooking classes at the Institute of Culinary Education and the Whole Foods Market Bowery Culinary Center. He recently celebrated his first year as a vegetarian.

Shin Kim is a culinary instructor with passion for Korean food. After training in culinary school and Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants in New York City, she’s focused on sharing delicious, healthy and simple Korean dishes and fine-dining kitchen tips. Her classes focus on why’s and how’s of Korean cooking so that participants can easily re-create the basic recipes learned in class and modify them with their own imagination at home.

Shin is also an enthusiast of Korean culture all-around. She writes articles about hidden Korean gems in New York City, which have appeared on The Korea Times, The Korea Herald, and Yonhap News, translates Korean articles and dramas, and maintains her personal blog.

Growing up, I remember being in the kitchen Friday afternoons, watching my mother prepare the elaborate meal for the Sabbath evening.

I recall asking my mother questions, "How do you know when the onions are ready'" or "When do you know when to put the garlic in'" She patiently explained the fundamental rules, encouraging my interest. When I was 11 years old, I started preparing breakfasts.

Once college began, my desire to cook took a back seat to the challenge of academic pursuits. After graduation, I decided to further my interest, and attended the French Culinary Institute. At the FCI, under the tutelage of world-renowned chefs, I learned the full spectrum of cooking technique and secrets. Food and cooking allow me to be creative in the ultimate artistic medium — one that stimulates all five of our senses. My cooking "hobby" is now a full-fledged passion and career.

Emily Klein, founder of EAT LIVE WELL is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and is accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She has learned directly from master chefs, including Michael Chiarello and David Burke of Napa Valley and New York City fame. Emily was also Director of Special Events for renowned wine importer Michael Skurnik Wines. She instructs a wide range of cooking classes at the JCC of Manhattan, and has coached extensively for various leadership and lifestyle programs at Landmark Education Corporation, as well as privately.

Combining her training and education with her love for food and commitment to a healthy, vibrant lifestyle, Emily brings her passion for eating and living well to you.

Myra Kornfeld is the author of The Voluptuous Vegan (Clarkson Potter Publishers) and the forthcoming The Healthy Hedonist (Simon and Schuster, September 2005), a book with over 250 streamlined global recipes for flexitarians. A specialist in natural foods cooking, she worked for six years creating innovative vegan cuisine at New York's Angelica Kitchen. She teaches natural ethnic cuisines at the Natural Gourmet in New York City as well as in many schools and retreats throughout the country.

Sherri Maxman was inspired to start baking after visiting the Wonder Bread factory in Queens when she was in third grade, and she has been cooking ever since. She attended baking and cooking courses at the New York Restaurant School and the New School. She now works at Eleni's bakery in Chelsea Market, where she specializes in baking and decorating cakes. Sherri conducts hands-on baking weekends at Blueberry Hill Inn in Vermont and is the owner of her own baking business, Baked By Me. Her specialties include bread baking, cake decorating, cooking for families, cooking with children, and chocolate desserts.

John Scoff joined to Home Cooking in early 2006. After 15 years of restaurant work, culminating most recently as Executive Chef of a Lowcountry bistro in South Carolina, John continues to believe strongly in working with local, fresh ingredients. John’s apprenticeships under several highly-regarded, award-winning chefs gave him the culinary expertise and the sense of professionalism he needed to become a well-respected restaurant chef. But in 2004, John truly found his calling when he accepted a position as Executive Chef-Instructor at a recreational cooking school in historic downtown Charleston. As a teacher there, he discovered how much he enjoys sharing his passion for and knowledge of cuisine.

Jackie Topol is a Registered Dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and has her Masters in Clinical Nutrition from NYU. Since beginning her career in nutrition and culinary education, she has helped young people, families, and older adults transition to healthier, happier lifestyles. In her free time, you can find her teaching private cooking classes and in the culinary studio with her students at The JCC in Manhattan. Jackie has been an instructor for over 5 years and loves teaching therapeutic cooking classes that feature foods that prevent diseases and promote good health.

Jackie graduated from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in France and then honed her cooking skills in Chef Edward Brown's kitchen at the Sea Grill in New York City. Jackie spent 4 years working side-by-side with Sara Moulton in Gourmet's executive dining room and has developed recipes for Food & Wine Cookbooks, Martha Stewart Living, Kitchen Daily and Ellie Krieger, host of Food Network's Healthy Appetite.

Jay Weinstein, a chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America, is a New York based food writer, editor, culinary instructor, and author of three culinary books. He is a veteran of some of America’s finest kitchens, including New York’s Le Bernardin, Boston’s Restaurant Jasper, and The Four Seasons Hotel. His food articles and recipes have been featured in The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Newsday, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, and numerous other publications. His latest book, The Ethical Gourmet, focuses on ecologically sustainable fine foods. He teaches culinary arts at The Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City.

Assistant Director of Culinary Arts, has been with the JCC since September 2006.  Irene first learned to cook beside her grandmother, who taught her to cook from taste, smell and feel rather than from recipes.  Irene started at the JCC as a volunteer in the Culinary Arts Program   Irene has taken numerous cooking courses all over the United States and prides herself on being able to recreate dishes that she has enjoyed in restaurants. In 2006, Irene was one of the semi-finalists in the first ever Simply-Manischweitz Cooking Contest.

the JCC in Manhattan