Our Teachers

Deanna Figueira currently owns a B&B in Brazil where she whips up tasty meals for her guests. As a devoted foodie who loves to prepare the food as well, she has been cooking, baking, serving, and eating for most of her life.


Joseph Guida has been cooking for the BriarPatch Cooking School for three or four years. He has also cooked for local non-profit fund raisers and loves to share vegetarian foods with friends, family and anyone with an interest. He is a self-taught cook but really he thanks all the people who he has watched cook throughout his life and is grateful for their skills.


Hiroko Greenberg was certified as a chef in Japan in 2005. She specializes in the Ancient Art of Shojin Riori, a 1,200 year-old traditional Zen cuisine that features simple vegetarian and vegan dishes prepared in a focused, concentrated way. It’s an approach that infuses the food with intention and meditative energy, while drawing out the flavors inherent in its elements, often taking several days or a week to prepare a single meal. Hiroko has been offering Shojin dinner presentations once a season since 2015. She also teaches the art of Japanese cuisine locally and does exclusive, private catering as well.


Kayla Wexelberg is the founder of Taste Your Roots. She has been a chef for over 10 years and a farmer for five. Starting her journey as a French caterer and pastry chef in Berkeley at Downtown Restaurant, Kayla has worked and studied many facets of food, from baking to health foods, including raw food preparation. She has traveled the world studying cooking traditions and methods and continues to record and archive recipes. Her strongest calling is to bring conscious healthy nurturing food to the world and to help educate and empower individuals to find and discover their own food culture. Her excitement and motivation encourages you to seep your hands into your native soil and discover the depth food can bring to your life and your community.


Shauna Schultz is a registered dietitian and college nutrition instructor who also teaches plant-based cooking classes. She is an advocate for plant-based nutrition and believes nourishment begins with the enjoyment of meals and simple healthy cooking skills. When not teaching or talking nutrition, Shauna can be found cooking with her family or running on the trails.


Richard Drace has been on the BriarPatch Board of Directors for over five years, and currently serves as your Board President. He and his son Galen will be offering their fourth cooking class this spring. His previous cooking activities included teaching Galen to cook. His present cooking activities include learning cooking skills from Galen.


Rick Silberman has been passionately fighting the battle against mediocre bread for many years. He recently said that even though it’s taking longer than he thought, thanks to schools like the Briarpatch Kitchen, we are gaining ground. He has taught this class many times and looks forward to the day when there will be local community bakeries in every neighborhood.


Louise Jones I always had a passion for food and beverage and, studied haute and European classical cuisine with French Chef Madeliene Kamman at her Boston cooking school, Modern Gourmet.  I moved to California right after that and found myself rethinking cooking after the training I received.  I wanted to cook food for health and became proficient at ethnic cooking through self-study.  My latest credential is from Living Light International, a vegan raw food school in Ft. Bragg


Genevieve Mack has been working in kitchens all her life.  Her passion for cooking blends well with her wellness care business, Regenavate, which focuses on people learning how to nourish themselves through yoga and healthy foods.  She also provides massage and life coaching.  Her passion for both gardening and cooking gives her the perfect excuse to teach her signature classes:  Canning for a Treasured Pantry, and Gourmet Backpacking Meals and Foods On The Go.


Jim E. (Eckhart) is very well known in Nevada County for his delicious food and attractive buffets. He volunteered for 20 years making fabulous food for SYRCL auctions, and owned a catering and event business in Nevada County for 29 years.  At his Club 141 in Grass Valley, he offered cooking classes along with his catering and restaurant business. He now resides mostly in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with visits to Nevada County on occasion.


Gwendolynn Diaz was born and raised in rural Colorado, Gwendolynn has always lived by the principles of nature. This path has led her on her journey with Ayurveda and Yoga. As a Clinical Ayurvedic Therapist, Gwendolynn has the knowledge and intuition to help  you create a mindful path of health within all aspects of your life.


Tiffany Chen expresses love through cooking. She has been cooking privately for people, Ayurvedic therapy patients, as well as for larger catering companies and organizations for several years. She has developed not only a health-based but also sensory-appealing approach towards cooking.


Ali Johnson brings you a series of classes dedicated to whole foods cooking with a passion for health and a love for any activity in the kitchen, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Utilizing the RESTART Sugar Detox program as inspiration. Ali will teach you to think about preparing delicious meals, snacks and sides without any artificial ingredients and with less reliance on sweet flavors.