Sharon Wiest, Culinary Center in Lincoln City

Chef Sharon Wiest is the Executive Chef of the Culinary Center in Lincoln City. She relocated from Cincinnati, Ohio in 2008 to the beautiful Oregon coast (for the oysters, of course!)

She is a graduate of the Midwest Culinary Institute in Cincinnati. After culinary school she spent three years in fine dining at Great American Ballpark for the Cincinnati Reds, then three years as the Executive Chef at Ft. Mitchell Country Club in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky. Sharon also was an instructor at Midwest Culinary Institute for several years.

Chef Wiest is committed to developing diverse hands-on and demonstration style classes, all focusing on fresh and local products whenever possible. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest she has learned to crab and clam in the bay. And she is a self-proclaimed “Pioneer Woman” as she is passionate about canning, cheesemaking, soapmaking, fiber arts, and fermentation of all sorts of vegetables…just ask her about beet kvass!






Rob Pounding, Blackfish Cafe

Chef Rob Pounding, Chef of Blackfish Cafe, Lincoln City, OregonChef Rob Pounding is the owner and Chef of the Blackfish Café in Lincoln City, Oregon. Chef Pounding is also a co-founder of the Culinary Center in Lincoln City.

He was the Executive Chef of Salishan Lodge from 1985 to 1999 and during his tenure the Lodge’s fine dining restaurant received the AAA 4 Diamond, and Mobil 4 Star Awards (the only restaurant in Oregon to do so,) as well as the DiRona Award. Chef Pounding was also selected as one of the top ten chefs in the Pacific Northwest by NW magazine.

Rob is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, a Certified Executive Chef, and was selected as a member of the American Academy of Chefs; the American Culinary Federation’s honor society for excellence in Culinary Arts & contribution to the profession.

Rob has spent many years developing working relationships with various market gardeners, farmers, and fisherman on the Oregon Coast, and has been an active supporter of sustainable agriculture & organic farming for commercial applications in Oregon.

Rob was selected to prepare a dinner at the prestigious James Beard House in New York. He has been involved in numerous promotional events, including guest Chef at the Hotel Furama in Central Hong Kong, guest Chef at the US Embassy, Hong Kong, and Chef exchange at the Hotel Fregate, Bandol, France. In 1996 he was asked to develop a series of menus featuring foods and preparations from the Pacific Northwest for the restaurants at the prestigious American Club in Central Hong Kong. Rob is active in various hunger relief efforts, including Lincoln County Food Share and Share Our Strength.

Liz Lesesne, Wandering Chef

Chef Liz LesesneLiz’s culinary passion has been a constant. Growing up in the South in a family of food lovers was the basis for a lifetime of culinary adventure. Wherever she goes she cooks. To take her interest to a higher level, she became a graduate of the Midwest Culinary Institute in Cincinnati. She and Chef Sharon had their first class together and have been friends since.

Whether at home in Asheville, North Carolina, or away, she finds the most interesting, freshest, local food and uses it as the basis for traditional and innovative dishes. French and Southern are her favorite styles. She has found that Oregon’s abundance of exceptional ingredients is very adaptive to all types of cuisine.

In addition to catering for weddings, art openings, galas and soirees and organizing food experiences in France, she teaches classes on both the Atlantic and Pacific coast.


Justin Wills, Restaurant Beck

Chef Justin Wills, Restaurant Beck, Depoe Bay, OregonGrowing up in a large Italian family on the south side of Des Moines, Justin was exposed to more great food in his childhood than most are in their lives. This definitely planted the culinary passion in Justin at a very young age.

Deciding to pursue the culinary arts as a career, Justin started cooking as a teenager at a local large chain restaurant. In January of 1995, Justin enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America located in Hyde Park, New York. Following an internship at Grappa Restaurant in Park City, UT Wills graduated from the Culinary Institute in October of 1997. He cooked in great restaurants such as ¡OBA! Restaurante in Portland, and operated formidable fine dining kitchens in Denver, Dallas, New York, and Mendocino.

Justin first moved to Oregon in 2002 eventually moving to the Oregon coast in 2006.  Justin and his wife, Stormee, had a dream to own their own restaurant and be able to access and prepare locally grown foods.  Their dream definitely comes to life inside of the Whale Cove Inn just south of Depoe Bay with Restaurant Beck.  The restaurant, named after their son Becker, opened in June of 2009 to rave reviews. Gerry Frank of the Oregonian put it best: “the fantastically located Whale Cove Inn houses Restaurant Beck where views compete neck and neck with the food.”

In 2011 Chef Wills was nominated by Food and Wine Magazine and CNN’s eatocracy blog for “The Peoples Best New Chef.”

Pati D’Eliseo, A Posto Personal Chef Services

Chef Pati D'Eliseo, A Posto Personal Chefs, Oregon CoastChef Pati D’Eliseo is the Executive Chef of A Posto Personal Chef Services LLC, a Newport, Oregon Company serving the central Oregon coast. Pati not only loves to cook for her clients, she also enjoys being a cooking instructor and sharing her knowledge and love for food through her customized cooking classes.

Chef Pati has been a passionate home cook for over 30 years; she makes dinner (along with her husband, Bruce Birt) using fresh, whole foods almost every night of the week. Her interests are varied, but her favorite style of cooking is Mediterranean. She shops the Lincoln County farmers’ markets for as long as they run, buys as much food from local producers as she can, and supports the buy local, organic, sustainable, and Slow Food movements. Pati loves the variety of coastal seafoods available at the fish markets or purchased directly from the fishermen right off their boats. Pati believes that knowing where whole foods come from, cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients, and eating together at the table are all part of healthy living.

Pati is a graduate of the Italian Culinary Academy (the Italian culinary program offered through the French Culinary Institute) in New York City. She spent five months in Italy learning the secrets of Italian cuisine and enjoys sharing them with her clients.

Bruce Birt, A Posto Personal Chef Services

Bruce Birt, A Posto Personal Chef Services, Oregon coastBruce Birt is the Sous Chef of A Posto Personal Chef Services LLC, a Newport, Oregon Company serving the central Oregon coast. He shares the same passion for food and wine as his wife, Pati D’Eliseo, Executive Chef of A Posto.

Chef Bruce is gifted in the art of salad making; his creations bring new life to an often overlooked dish. His ability to combine the flavors and contrasts of the bounty of different greens, herbs, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, nuts, and dressings is truly remarkable, and these healthy creations can either be a compliment to a meal or served alone as a main entree.

In addition, Bruce has devoted his recent culinary efforts to mastering the art of fine pizza making as found in Naples, Italy, the birthplace of pizza. His pizza making techniques include using handmade dough recipes incorporating select pizza flour, salt, and spring water from Italy, preparing pizza sauces featuring fresh herbs and the famous San Marzano tomatoes of the Sarnese-Nocerino region, and baking pizzas with artisanal cheeses and salami’s produced throughout the country’s 20 regions. These techniques and ingredients have led to a pizza ‘experience’ rarely found on the West Coast.

Bruce started his culinary career in Junior high school with ‘Boys Chef’ class. He quickly figured out that he could eat more if he could learn to cook for himself. When he met Pati in San Francisco in the early 90s he realized that he had found a kitchen ‘soul mate’. Over the years, Bruce and Pati have had the opportunity to travel to new places to learn about different types of foods, how they are prepared, as well as how they are celebrated.

Linda Ziedrich, Writer, Teacher and Editor

Linda Ziedrich writes about food and rural life from her farmstead near Scio, Oregon, where she continually experiments with the produce from her orchard and large garden. The Joy of Pickling, The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves, and Cold Soups are the fruit of her empirical research as well as her studies of culinary traditions around the world.

Linda has worked as a nonfiction book editor for 30 years. The many titles she has edited include cookbooks such as Hiroko Shimbo’s Japanese Kitchen and Teresa Barrenechea’s Basque Table.

Linda met Chef Sharon at the IACP (International Assoc. of Culinary Professionals) conference in Portland, OR in the Spring of 2010. Sharon was getting her copy of The Joy of Pickling signed, and figured out that Linda was “the one” to teach pickling and canning classes at the Culinary Center. She has been a regular every fall since!

Tammi Paul, Two Track Farm

Having grown up on a farm it was only natural that I returned to farm life after finishing college and beginning a successful career teaching in higher education. Three kids later and having retired from teaching (in the more formal environment anyway), I now manage our small, sustainable family farm near Brownsville, Oregon with the help of my 6, 7 and 11 year old assistant managers and of course, my husband, the master engineer of anything needing repaired or built.

Two Track Farm raises registered Saanen and Lamancha dairy goats and registered Simmental cattle. I started making soap when we had more milk than our family could use. After several years of experimenting with different recipes, I was finally able to come up with one that met my expectations. Nine years later plus some creative marketing experience has now given rise to our soap being sold through our website, local markets and used exclusively at several B&B establishments. In addition, one of my favorite weekend activities is to attend the local farmer’s markets where I interact with people who are new to goat milk products as well as hear many great stories from people who have already used our soap or lotion.

Cheese making came as a natural next step as more and more people kept asking me if I sold goat cheese. My answer, “No, but I can teach you how to make it at home”. I am now delighted to be called the “goat lady” as I travel Oregon helping people be more sustainable in their home by using fresh, local ingredients to create artisan cheese products. Family and friends love to see what current cheese “creations” I am working on and guests in our home are always welcome to “test” some of our favorites!

Scott Neuman, ¡Oba! Restaurante

“I’ve always loved playing with my food.”

And play he does. Neuman has been cooking since he was a kid, following in the footsteps of his dad who introduced him to the smoky world of barbecue when he was in grade school. “It used to be my job to gather the hickory branches, soak them, and make sure there was a ready supply of wood chips anytime my dad wanted to fire up the grill.” He and his dad spent entire weekends cooking on the grill, sharing stories, and learning the many intricate delights of his family’s secret barbecue sauce.

A majority of his early career was spent in Texas–Austin, Amarillo and Dallas, to be exact, where he developed a love of all things Latin. After that, he moved to San Francisco, where he met Steve McLain, the owner of ¡Oba!, over twenty-two years ago. They began working together and the magic began to materialize. Neuman and McLain turned the heat up in Portland with the founding of ¡Oba! Restaurante in November of 1997.

Chef Neuman is considered the “father of Nuevo Latino cuisine in the Pacific Northwest”, and since the opening of the restaurant, ¡Oba! has received numerous honors , both locally and nationally. Over the past several years, Neuman has hosted his own radio show, “Dining Out” on Portland’s KOTK and KBNP, been invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City, been a guest chef on several local television programs, and has donated his talents to many high-profile charitable events. Chef Neuman has also been featured in such varied publications as Food Arts, Nation’s Restaurant News, Food & Wine, Chef Magazine, Bon Appetite, Vogue, Restaurant Hospitality, D-List and USA Today.

He’s still using some of his dad’s advice when it comes to roasting meat over a fire and he still calls his kitchen his playground.

Michael Valoppi, ChoicePoint Hospitality Group

Chef Michael Valoppi is a partner and Senior Consultant at ChoicePoint Hospitality Group. Michael was inspired at an early age by food as his father taught him Italian cuisine from the age of 6. He was encourage even further by his first chef, a man from India, who told Michael to work at a nice restaurant learn what you can, then move on to learn again. Michael took this to heart and lived in 9 states, up and down both coasts honing his craft. Working in such establishments as the Beverly Hills Country Club, The Hamlet Gardens in Westwood, CA. To the East Coast at Ferante’s and 14 Market St. in Charleston, SC.

Learning the food culture, from all around the country, has given Michael an ability to create eclectic fusion cuisine and blended with the incredible bounty the Pacific Northwest has to offer. He has worked in almost every capacity in the industry. From fine dining catering in the thousands, to frying 1500 doughnuts a day in his first job. He has won several awards here in Lincoln City and from the American Culinary Federation.

Michael has two incredible children in college and now is devoting more of his time to ChoicePoint Hospitality Group, a consulting service for restaurants, boutique hotels, catering and events, located in Sisters, Oregon, traveling to jobs all around the Northwest. One of his favorite things do experience is events at the Culinary Center in Lincoln City. Michael said; “Coming to the coast is such a great time. Good people sharing great ideas and the interaction with those who make it happen, and those who come to classes or cook-offs, are so enjoyable to spend time with.”

Eric Nelson, Willamette Valley Vineyards

Eric’s love of the culinary arts began at the age of 16, while working at a Steakhouse in Ames, IA. Every day he would peruse the six onsite gardens to pick fresh flowers and other greenery to garnish the evening’s dinner plates. In two years, he moved up through the ranks – starting as the dishwasher, moving on to salad boy, sauté boy and then finally to grill MAN. It was his experience at the Broiler that solidified his love for cooking.

After high school Eric moved to Colorado to attend the Keystone Culinary program. The program featured a three-year apprenticeship where he rotated through six of Keystone’s highly acclaimed restaurants. It was here he had the opportunity to join a special group of students to embark on a field trip to the Culinary Olympics abroad in Germany. The trip included stops in Epernay, the Champagne region of France and most notably a tour at Dom Pérignon, along with a half-day class at le cordon bleu in Paris, France. Exquisite!

He was offered the opportunity to become a private chef at an experience design consulting firm in ‘03. During Eric’s five-year position as the Executive Chef at Starizon he honed his culinary skills.  During his time at Starizon, Eric was invited to the Wine Spectator’s California Wine Experience. This remarkable opportunity introduced him to countless wines paying homage to the world’s remarkable terroir. The most impressionable part of the California Wine Experience was a food and wine pairing cook-off whose contenders included Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali and Charlie Trotter. One word. Amazing!

Feeling inspired, Eric took his training and love of food to a new level, starting his own catering business – Scenario Catering. The experiences he offered ranged from hosting private dinners to creating culinary affairs with cooking classes, wine/food pairing and themed events. But all of this was short-lived. Eric was approached with an opportunity he couldn’t refuse – in Oregon.

An Executive Chef position was offered at The Bistro at Wellspring in Woodburn, Oregon. This position heightened his technique and brought his restaurant management skills full circle. The Bistro challenged him to investigate healthier styles of cooking while simultaneously feeding his desire to showcase food as art. This effort created a destination place that many people – both locals and those from far and wide – called their safe haven for delicious, quality food.

Now as the Executive Chef at Willamette Valley Vineyards Eric is bringing his passions and skills to complete fruition, running a kitchen while building a full-service fine dining tasting room food service. With a blank slate and strong-willed determination, he is eagerly attempting to execute and exceed Jim Bernau’s vision (founder/wine maker). Here he plans on making a splash with a localized creative sampling menu to enhance Willamette Valley Vineyards’ already phenomenal wines.

Eric has always found great pleasure in the art of food – almost telling him how it wants to come together. He credits his mother for two early lessons in life, if you truly love your work, you can create magic: and a dash of love put into everything you do can keep you well.

Ethan Granberg, Rockfish Bakery

Ethan Granberg of Rockfish Bakery in Lincoln City, OREthan Granberg is co-owner and chef of Rockfish Bakery Cafe in Lincoln City, Oregon. Born and raised in Pittsburgh Pa Ethan has been on the Oregon coast since 2010. A graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute Ethan gained his kitchen “chops” in small independent restaurants in Pittsburgh. Once in Oregon, Ethan started as Executive Sous Chef at the Inn at Spanish Head. Coming to the Pacific Northwest ignited in him a passion for cooking local, seasonal, and casual foods. His outlook brought him to take a position at Les Cave Bier and Kitchen in Corvallis Or where local food made from scratch is standard operating procedure. Now Ethan is back on the coast running, with his wife Danelle (bread baker and pastry chef), the Rockfish Bakery Cafe since 2012 (previously owned and operated by Robert and Mary Pounding of Blackfish Cafe).

“The Pacific Northwest is where I feel I finally found out what kind of chef I want to be. Cooking wholesome food and exploring the bounty of this place while sharing it with friends and family is what makes me love what I do.”

Jardin Kazaar, Black Market Gourmet

Jardin Kazaar of Black Market Gourmet in Coos Bay, ORLike many Oregonians, Jardin moved to Oregon from elsewhere. Born and raised in The Bronx, New York he and his family moved to Southern California when Jardin was a teenager. Jardin moved to the Southern Oregon Coast in November 1989 and set up residence in Coquille, Oregon.

He moved to Oregon with a degree in nursing and specialized in critical care. But because of Jardin’s desire to be well rounded in both technical and artistic fields, he looked for other things he could do that would address his artistic talents. Jardin completed a French culinary apprenticeship in California before attending nursing school and worked part time while in college at the Rex Wignall Art Museum in Cucamonga, California. It was through this artistic exposure that Jardin began to form ideas about his artistic expression. It has long been said that if a person is good at something then they are probably good at others things too. Jardin Kazaar is such a person.

Work sometimes gets in the way of many of the things that we dream about doing. But Jardin likes everything that he does. He is equally as passionate about nursing and health as he is about food, art and music. Jardin’s life ethic dictates that one should be balanced by playing in your work and working in your play.

Jardin Kazaar remains a registered nurse at Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay, Oregon, hosts his own television program on KCBY “Cooking with Jardin, The 5 Minute Gourmet” as well as performs as the percussionist with the band Soulpie. He and his wife Kristin Hoefer own Black Market Gourmet, LLC in the historic Marshfield District of Downtown Coos Bay; an innovative space featuring an intimate gourmet retail food store, artisan showcase, as well as a private catering venue for any occasion. Black Market Gourmet, LLC also offers full service catering and event planning for both on and off premise occasions.

Chef Jardin Kazaar and Black Market Gourmet have evolved into a food resource enterprise with nutritional and diet specific counseling for bariatric, diabetic and food sensitivities. Black Market Gourmet coordinates cooking classes with DOCS Oregon Health Plan and the Diabetic education department at Bay Area Hospital. Jardin is a dedicated food activist involved with food education and politics, sustainability and the local farm to table movement.