Stacey Ornstein – Founder
Stacey has developed curriculum, recipes, and taught healthy, international cooking classes in New York City public schools, after-school programs, camps, ELL and GED classes, the Institute of Culinary Education, and more — for youth (aged 2+), young adults, and adults since 2007. She began Allergic to Salad in 2010 to share her experiences and recipes in the kid cooking trenches. It has since grown into the project it is today— to after-school classes, parties, tours and more! She has developed recipes with The New York Times’ Mark Bittman on his cookbook, Kitchen Express, the Food Network TV show, Cooking for Real (Sunny Anderson), and recipe tested for Body and Soul Magazine (Martha Stewart Omnimedia). Her writing and recipes have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including a current partnership with Sustainable Table and the Kids Cook Mondays Campaign. Her food programming efforts have reached over 80,000 children and adults since 2007. Stacey has a Masters in History of Education from New York University and is a contributing editor to the textbook Contemporary Issues in Curriculum (2006/2011/2015).
Amber Benham – Educator
Amber fled the wheat fields of Kansas, realizing she did not belong in the land of meat and potatoes. She followed her taste buds to Brooklyn, where she taught Spanish for several years to middle schoolers in Crown Heights, and then to Malaga, Spain to teach English. After basking in the sun of the Costa del Sol and trying to master Andalucian cooking, she came back to New York to pursue a degree in journalism. She dappled in crime reporting at The Wall Street Journal and served as an editor at Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. Amber lives in Brooklyn, where she’s raising two little chefs-in-the-making, blogging about parenting, and making a mess of her kitchen. She is passionate about salads, gazpacho, quiche, and sustainable seafood.
Chelsea Caravella – Educator
Sarah Carlisle – Educator
Sarah recently moved to Brooklyn from Portland, OR, where she ran a small kitchen, grew food in a cooperative organic garden, taught in gardens at elementary schools, and led collaborative cooking groups. She’s an avid home cook and baker, with a passion for making and learning in the kitchen and beyond. Her cooking style is intuitive and varied, driven by fresh, local ingredients, inspiration from others, and a desire to cook nutritious, long-lasting meals without waste. She’s looking forward to getting involved with her new community and empowering young ones to develop their skills and palates!
Tiffany Carroll – Educator
Stephanie Cadet – Educator
Daniela Gallegos – Educator
Milen Ghirmay – Educator
An Ethiopian chef who arrived on America’s shore at an early age, Milen was surrounded by great cooks and tantalizing food since childhood. She has worked in several restaurants in Maryland, Washington, DC and the New York City area, and graduated from the Art Institute of New York’s Culinary Program in 2009. Currently involved in classes ranging from International Cuisines, the Sommelier prep course and actively assists Culinary Faculty at her school. Additionally, Milen is earning her Bachelor degree in Hospitality at the CUNY New York City College of Technology. Milen volunteers her time at Monte’s Restaurant, located in the heart of Greenwich Village (NYC). She teaches a series of cooking classes designed for teenagers, where they learn basic cooking techniques, kitchen safety and the ability to identify several household cooking spices. Milen’s vision is to create flavorful dishes with a touch of her own distinctive Ethiopian flair while also marrying the many flavors of the world in perfect harmony.
Melissa Giraldo – Educator
Amanda Gomez – Educator
Christina Han – Educator
Sara Hepburn – Educator
Michelle Hughes – Educator
Lisa Joels – Educator
Lisa’s love of getting creative in the kitchen began at a very young age and she has been cooking, baking, and experimenting ever since. She left the world of public relations after she realized her passion for working with children and became a New York City pre-school teacher. While teaching, she witnessed the fun, excitement, and learning that occurred while cooking and baking with her students. The unique sensory experience and hands-on learning that working in the kitchen provides us all became one of Lisa’s favorite ways to integrate learning into her curriculum. With a focus on whole foods, moderation and balance, and an openness to trying new things, Lisa is excited for all the “teachable moments” that will be happening in her classes this year!
Lauren Lafleur – Educator
Lauren grew up in California where the bounty of her mother’s garden and backyard chickens inspired every meal. Her cooking style reflects the nourishing California sunshine, lending to crunchy, bright, and creative meals around a table of friends. She has spent the past four years living in the Hudson Valley; teaching STEM-based after-school programs, working on a small vegetable and flower farm, all while earning her Master’s degree in Environmental Policy at Bard College. A culmination of experience in the service industry and an education in environmental sustainability and educational farms, Lauren is thrilled to turn her expertise to inspiring youth to get involved in the kitchen, and the garden. New to New York City, Lauren is so excited to share her love for farm fresh food and getting creative with seasonal ingredients in the kitchen with Allergic to Salad.
Stephanie Lowe – Educator
Susan Malat – Educator
Sue, a self-proclaimed foodie, is passionate about food, health and wellness, and loves sharing her latest kitchen experiments with her family, kids and friends. She left the world of publishing and received her health coaching certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition as well as a Culinary Nutrition certification at The Natural Gourmet Institute. Her lessons focus on real food, balance and fun as the keys to nourishment. She has been involved in several children’s cooking and wellness programs and loves to teach kids to explore new, healthy ingredients in the kitchen. Inspired by her local farmers market, expect to find Sue sharing fresh, seasonal goodies with her students this year.
Meredith Napolitano – Educator
Josephine Quiocho – Educator
Brooke Robinson – Educator
Brooke grew up on a farm in Virginia, where her passion for healthy and sustainable food began. After studying Geography at Vassar College, where she focused her senior thesis on agricultural tourism in Appalachia, she returned to Virginia, where she worked at a locally-focused artisanal butcher and a boutique winery. She then travelled to Ireland, where she spent five weeks working on an organic lamb and vegetable farm, learning about sustainable farming practices. She is now in the Food Studies masters program at NYU Steinhardt, and takes every opportunity she can to teach others about the importance of supporting small farmers and the glory of local, seasonal, and home-cooked food. When she is not studying and teaching, she can be found watching Julia Child’s The French Chef and reminiscing about life on the farm.
Adam Santo – Educator
Adam has a culinary arts degree from the Institute of Culinary Education. He has worked in a variety of restaurants, including celebrity-chef owned Lupa and Hearth in New York City. He has over a decade of experience in the food industry, and has professionally made everything from fresh salads and hearty pastas to fancy desserts. Adam hails from Pennsylvania and grew to love cooking because of his maternal grandmother’s rustic Italian dishes. He holds her traditional cooking (and rolling pin) sacred but loves to find inventive flavor combinations of his own. His signature dish is a red velvet cake, made extra moist with a secret ingredient. Adam is excited to be an Allergic to Salad teacher because it combines two of his passions: cooking and working with children. He hopes to share his love of cooking, and eating, with a new generation of budding chefs.
Rachel Sardina – Educator
Rachel is a native New Yorker with a passion for food, cooking and teaching. Her father is a chef and restaurateur and he shared his joy of food with her at a very young age. Cheese was her first word, and by age two her favorite food was broccoli rabe. As a young child, she would go to work with her dad in the morning and help him make the soup of the day in a large stock pot while standing on a milk crate. She worked in the restaurant business on Long Island and in NYC throughout high school and college where she earned a degree in teaching from CUNY Hunter. She then went on to earn a Master’s degree in literacy education and has been teaching in an after school program on the Upper West Side since 2008. There she taught a variety of classes including healthy cooking, piano, and creative and performing arts.
Cristina Suazo – Educator
Alexandra Sullivan – Educator
Jeanine Swift – Educator
Cindy Thomas – Educator
Chef Cindy is from Brooklyn, by way of Trinidad and Tobago. Her Mom gave her a cookbook at the age of 9 to keep her out of trouble…and the rest, as they say is history. She describes her cuisine as Carib-Fusion, which is a funky combination of her Caribbean heritage and her experience with other cultures. She stays loyal to the colorful flavors of her West Indian background, while marrying them with anything from Italian to Asian. Self-taught, she has been a Chef and Caterer for almost 15 years. She had even found her way onto Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, and was featured in the NY Daily News and other publications. Cindy is very passionate about showing that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring…and believes that we should start with the children. She has a knack for speaking a language that kids can understand and has participated in healthy food workshops and cooking with children for over 5 years.
Marsha Thorne – Educator
A Brooklyn native, Marsha grew up waking to the customary aromas of spices and seasonings that encircled her Caribbean rooted home. Hailing from Barbados and Trinidad, her family made Sunday dinner an event of island flair. A tradition Marsha still carries on (most Sundays), now fused with friends and dishes from her travels to Spain, Nicaragua, Ghana, China and more. Her West Indian dietary customs landed her as a guest on the Dr. Oz show. Next to honoring tradition Marsha enjoys serving as an Educator, Writer, Teaching Artist and Mentor in buffet of critical Literacy curriculum and reentry programs. Recalling many early childhood complaints about the “trees”(broccoli) on her plate which now adorn it, beside her first love “kale;” Marsha loves and looks forward to remixing dishes and content for students. Currently she is completing her graduate studies at Columbia University Teacher’s College. In addition, she serves as an Associate Producer on a theatrical multimedia show “Lyrics from Lockdown.”
Cynthia Tomasini – Educator
Cynthia is a classically trained chef and graduate of the French Culinary Institute (class of 2011). For the past 5 years Cynthia has been working as a chef for the non-for profit Wellness in the Schools, where she promotes healthy eating and environmental awareness as a way of life for children in NYC public schools. Recently she has become an advocate of solar cooking, initiating solar demos in public schools and in local greenmarkets. When the sun goes down over Manhattan, she moonlights as an after school chef instructor and private chef.
Costanza (Coco) Zordan – Educator
Coming to the US 20 years ago from Parma (Italy) to work as a fashion stylist, Coco never thought she would become a passionate cook and baker. She soon found out that cooking, health and the environment were tightly linked and became an environmental advocate. Zordan has worked with the Conservation Commission in her current hometown, helping to ban plastic bags. She is very active in her local schools working to implement a compost program, and in 2015, with the support of other parents, started a new “battle” to ban junk food and improve the quality of the school lunch program. She is a graduate of IIN (2015). Coco also writes the food blog, Easy Healthy Recipes from Scratch, and gives workshops and cooking classes. Happily married, 3 kids, 2 cats and one pigmy hedgehog, she loves teaching kids healthy eating habits according to the motto “You Are What You Eat”.