Donna Riani, Culinary Center Manager
Donna Riani is the Manager of the Culinary Center in beautiful Lincoln City. Donna came to the Oregon Coast on vacation and decided to call it home in 2012. Donna has been in the restaurant business since the age of 16. Her first job was in an Italian restaurant in the Chicagoland area. She has also been a professional baker in Colorado and Illinois, where she developed and implemented training programs to teach students how to bake. Now at the Culinary Center, her position has allowed her to combine her two loves…food and teaching.
It is Donna’s mission to educate visitors about where their food comes from and how it is raised and prepared. It’s also about cultivating relationships with local food purveyors. We really are what we eat! Donna’s goal with every class is being able to teach someone a new technique or recipe and have them say “I can do that.” That is her definition of success.
Stephen Sprague, Culinary Center Assistant
Stephen Sprague is the Assistant to the Culinary Center Manager, Donna Riani. He has worked in the restaurant industry for almost two decades. He attended Johnson & Wales University in Denver, and has worked in almost every position possible in a restaurant. After working in kitchens all around the Denver metro area, he relocated to Portland to help lead the team at a fine dining restaurant. In 2017, he moved to Lincoln City with his wife and two cats.
He believes that good food is essential for a healthy, happy life and is driven to demonstrate that by mastering a few simple techniques anyone can provide delicious, quality food for the people in their lives.
Rob Pounding, Blackfish Cafe
Chef 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.
Pati D’Eliseo, A Posto Personal Chef Services
Chef 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.
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!
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.”
Ethan Granberg, Rockfish Bakery
Ethan 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
Like 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.