2016 Biographies — Culinary Arts

Alberto Bessi

Alberto Bessi

Italian Cuisine

Chef Bessi joins FSAF from Fanano, Italy as part of the Sister City Exchange. After years of training in the art of Italian cuisine, Bessi has worked as a chef in restaurants such as; L’angolo, Hotel York Riccione, Panacea (where he was also partner), and Nestlé Italia (where he was also a consultant). He is currently a cooking instructor at Serramazzoni Hotel and Catering School.


Jo Heckman

Jo Heckman

Indian Cuisine

Retired Banker and currently runs a small business consulting firm. Born and raised in India, Jo moved to Fairbanks in 1975 and graduated from UAF with a BBA degree in 1979, and MBA in 1985. Her passion for cooking stems from the early days of childhood, watching her grandmother cook. Jo’s mother, Asha Lal, is also an accomplished cook having taught Asian and Oriental Cooking through the Tanana Valley community college for sixteen years. Good food and cooking is a journey and one that is continuously evolving and changing. Jo loves to cook all types of cuisines, but finds herself cooking Indian food more often than not. Jo leans more towards fresh and healthy preparations. She is happiest in the produce aisle.


Jeremy Howard

Jeremy Howard

Soup

Jeremy is a from scratch cook through and through. One of his favorite things to do is to experiment with ingredients to create a new dish. He is passionate about cooking and enjoys sharing his knowledge and experiences with others.  He has worked for several local restaurants and plans to one day open his own restaurant.  In 2016 he was featured in the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer business section for the cooking lessons he offers.
All of his soups are made from scratch. Often he will just throw veggies and stock in a pot and create a soup. He believes in keeping things simple and tries to never over complicate any recipe.  In his opinion, anybody can make a great soup. He is a big believer in the idea that food is brings people together.


Kathy Lavelle

Kathy Lavelle

Italian cuisine

Kathy Lavelle is a 36 year resident of Fairbanks. She is a University of Alaska graduate. Upon graduation she opened a small restaurant, Cafe de Paris, which has now grown and become a downtown icon, Lavelle's Bistro. She is married to Frank Eagle and has one daughter, Arlette. In her spare time she trains her shetland sheepdogs in agility. She loves wine and is a Certified Wine Professional from the Culinary Institute of America and a Certified Specialist of Wine from the Society of Wine Educators.


Julia Quist

Julia Quist

Gluten-free, vegan

Julia started cooking in Greece as a child with her grandmother who passed on her passion for simple well prepared food. Arriving in Alaska in 1971 she quickly developed a reputation as a home chef. In 2010 health issues caused her to begin learning a better way to cook vegetarian, vegan and raw food and she opened Julia's Solstice Cafe on 1/1/11 to offer well prepared locally grown food, specializing in gourmet vegetarian and vegan cuisine with a Greek and International flavor. She is currently assisting the staff of LUNCH Cafe and Eatery with GF recipe development so they can offer everything on their menu prepared also without the use of gluten.


Tana Robert

Tana Robert

Cajun Cuisine

Tana is 100% Cajun, has a BS in Microbiology, a Master’s of Public Health, and loves feeding people. Food is always involved when two or more Cajun’s are socializing. Cooking and eating Cajun food with her large extended family was always an event. This love of sharing food led to Tana’s father’s dream of opening a family Cajun restaurant being realized in 1995. This is the year Daigle’s Cajun Connection Seafood and Steak Restaurant opened its doors in Egan, Louisiana. The family restaurant prided itself in serving Cajun food cooked by REAL CAJUNS. Tana worked alongside her family until moving out of Louisiana in 2002. Tana considers this class dinner and a show. There is no telling what family stories will be told. Come help Tana ‘pass a good time’ by joining her for a “Taste of Cajun.”


Mehrdad Sabri

Mehrdad Sabri

Persian cuisine

Forced out of Iran by the Revolution, Md. Sabri sought refuge in Fairbanks in 1986. One of the few things he was able to bring with him was his skills in Persian cuisine. In 1997 he and his mother established Zorba on the Run, a seasonal food stand, which features an eclectic blend of food from the Middle East and Mediterranean.


Vicente Sanchez Martinez and Marita Gomez

Vicente Sanchez Martinez and Marita Gomez

Spanish cuisine

Vicente grew up in a restaurant family in central Spain observing and assisting first his grandparents and then his parents at their own restaurants . He, then, used his cooking skills to travel around the world. In 2005, Vicente and Marita opened Casa Vicente, a Spanish restaurant in Tucson, Arizona to share the culture and cuisine of Spain with the local community. The restaurant features dishes and tapas from most regions of Spain along with a very extensive wine list.


Somchai Sriweawnetr

Somchai Sriweawnetr

Thai cuisine

Lemongrass would like to introduce Chef Sam Sriweawnetr, a life-time chef from Bangkok, Thailand. Sam's chef career has brought him all over the world from Thailand to Indonesia, Iran, Dubai, Las Vegas, Boston, and now Fairbanks, Alaska. Chef Sam is packed with extraordinary stories and master culinary skills that will sure to impress.


Sean Walklin

Sean Walklin

Chef Sean Walklin was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska and is currently a Professor of Culinary Arts at UAFs Community and Technical College. He teaches a diverse set of classes, from Gourmet Cooking, Techniques of Healthy Cooking and Italian Regional Cuisine to Culinary Nutrition and menu planning. Sean is also the co-owner and executive chef of San Zanobi Catering, specializing in multi-course private dinners and corporate events. Sean studied culinary arts at Apicius International School of Hospitality in Florence, Italy and Communications at UAF. With over 15 years of experience in the food service industry, Sean loves teaching and being active in the community, helping organize or cook for events such as HIPOWs auction dinner, Fairbanks Children's Museums annual fundraising dinner, the Festival Fairbanks Potato Festival, the UAF/CTCs scholarship dinner and many more. Sean has promoted the use of local ingredients as a guest chef at the Tanana Valley Farmers Markets "Chef at the Market" and TVCs "Chef at the Clinic" as well as featuring Alaskan ingredients in his catering. During this class he will demonstrate different culinary techniques and skills with a focus on locally sourced ingredients.


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