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.

our chefs

irene yager

Irene Yager 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. Irene is on the Board of New York Women’s Culinary Alliance.
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jennifer abadi

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.
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Diane Insolia, RD, CDN

Diane Insolia is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Dietitian Nutritionist based in New York City. Diane's lifelong passion for nutrition, cooking, and a healthy lifestyle has inspired her to help others experience how great healthy can taste and feel from the inside out. She began her career as a clinical dietitian specializing in diabetes and renal care. After healing herself of a digestive illness through diet and holistic therapies, she switched her to gastrointestinal disorders. Now, in private practice, she provides nutrition counseling to clients with a variety of health goals including digestive health, weight management, and diabetes management.
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shin kim

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.
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shaya klechevsky — healthy, kosher, gourmet chef and educator

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.
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Jenny Matthau

Jenny Matthau specializes in teaching the preparation of great-tasting food via health-supportive classes and workshops on a wide range of topics that include cooking skills and techniques, and healing properties of food. She is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Culinary Apprenticeship Program and Teacher’s Training Program, and subsequently worked there for 27 years in various capacities including chef instructor, lecturer, Chef’s Training Program Director and President. Jenny has long been at the forefront of the natural foods movement, appearing as a food and health educator at Saint Vincent’s hospital, New York University Medical Center, JP Morgan Inc, Robert A. Becker Inc, Euro RSCG, Saatchi & Saatchi, the Judson Memorial Cancer Project, and the James Beard House. She was a featured writer and regular contributor to Biodiversity magazine and authored numerous articles for the Natural Gourmet Institute. Her recipes have been included in numerous publications and she has been repeatedly featured as a chef instructor on PBS and HealthyWomen videos.
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Jessica Li Phillips has been in the wellness field for the last 15 years as a yoga teacher, integrative chef, and wellness consultant. She believes that healing must takes place on many levels and most recently her work has integrated practices of “food as medicine,” yoga, and mindfulness. She holds the E-RYT 500 level accreditation from the yoga alliance and continues her contemplative Buddhist studies at the Ordinary Mind Zendo in NYC. Her background includes a B.A. in psychology and dance, and she is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute.
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Kim Pistone

A self-taught chef, caterer, and instructor, Kim was most strongly influenced by the time spent with her grandmothers in the kitchen. They cooked seasonally and organically because most everything came from their gardens. With some basic techniques and trust in following your own palate. Kim believes anyone who likes to eat can cook.
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john scoff

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.
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Joan Richter

Joan has been an avid amateur baker for years. She received her “challah” training at the JCC in December 2002 after seeing a blurb about a Challah Open House in The New York Times. It was the beginning of her love of baking bread and her nine year connection to the Culinary Arts program where she has had the pleasure of assisting many of the teachers and visiting chefs that have graced the kitchen.
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Elena and Davide Tedeschi, a brother-sister cooking team, have been cooking together since they were old enough to hold spatulas. Elena attended the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts and then became Founder & Executive Chef of Well Rooted Kitchen, LLC which provides personal chef, cooking instruction, and boutique catering services with a focus on health and mind support, local, and seasonal food. Elena’s greatest joy is to help people experience truly amazing food regardless of allergies and dietary restrictions without compromising taste and flavor.

Davide joined his sister at Well Rooted Kitchen in July of 2014 as Chef & Menu Developer Extraordinaire. Living in Parma, Italy since the age of 14, he worked his way through pizzerias and grills, finally deciding to deepen his culinary knowledge by attending ALMA -International School of Italian Cuisine. When he’s not in the kitchen, Davide loves physical activity which has taught him the importance of getting the right nutrition to fuel your body.
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jackie topol

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.
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jay weinstein

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.
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334 amsterdam ave at 76th st
new york, ny 10023 | 646.505.4444
www.jccmanhattan.org []