Staff

The Culinary Arts Program Chef Instructors

John Parks
John Parks
Executive Chef Instructor

Chef John began his storied career with eight years in the restaurant industry in Denver, San Francisco, and Germany. To expand upon his inherent talent, John attended Cook Street’s Professional Culinary Program in 2005. After establishing himself as a respected Personal Chef he returned just six months after graduation to join Cook Street as a Recreational Class Chef Instructor. He worked his way up to Lead Chef Instructor and in 2012 was promoted into the Professional Culinary Arts Program. In January 2014 he was assigned the prestigious role of Executive Chef Instructor for the school. He brings to us an invaluable sense of creativity, passion, and fathomless knowledge. Combined with his patient demeanor he is the ideal instructor to usher our students into their new culinary endeavors. Read the Denver Westword’s Chef & Tell blog about Chef Parks, here

Cindy McKnight, C.D.M.
Cindy McKnight, C.D.M.
Pastry Chef Instructor

As a dedicated home cook for her family it was a natural fit that Chef Cindy would attend Cook Street’s Professional Culinary Program after getting her children off to college. She graduated from the program in 2004 and spent two years honing her skills as a personal chef and private caterer. She joined the Recreational Class team at Cook Street in 2006 alongside Chef John Parks. In 2008 she accepted a position as the Pastry Chef at Vi in Highlands Ranch. After four years at Vi she returned to Cook Street’s Recreational Program as a Chef Instructor. In January of 2013 she was promoted to Lead Pastry Instructor in the Professional Culinary Arts Program. Chef Cindy additionally carries certification for dietary management and as a food protection professional. Her passion for the pastry arts and eight years of teaching experience make her the ideal instructor for the Pastry portion of our culinary arts programs.

Recreational & Event Chef Instructors

 

Christa Sauers
Christa Sauers
Chef Instructor

After graduating from Cook Street’s Professional Culinary Program in 2014 Chef Christa was excited to put her new skills to use. As a self-proclaimed foodie with a passion for art and history she was a natural fit for the program, blending her attention to detail with a deeper appreciation for beauty. Chef Christa can guide you through the simplicity of a roast chicken as well as the complexity of a rich Mole. Her travels have taken her all over the world, most recently on the European Culinary Tour in Parma, Italy with Cook Street’s Culinary Arts Program. Her worldly experience with food makes her a dynamic tool in the Cook Street kitchens and you can find her in classes all the way from Knife Skills to Mexican cuisine. Her warm personality draws people together and she loves discovering how food can bring people together every single night!

Shelly Phelps
Shelly Phelps
Chef Instructor

After spending 18 years in Nursing Chef Shelly decided it was time to pursue her lifelong passion of food and cooking and she attended Cook Street’s Professional Culinary Program in 2015. She proved herself to be particularly accomplished in pastry arts and was asked to join our recreational program shortly after graduation. During her nursing career she had ample opportunity to educate her patients and she takes that inherent sense of compassion and guidance seriously in the Cook Street kitchens! You’ll find Chef Shelly in many of our baking classes, patiently guiding our students to a barrage of baked goods that would impress even the most accomplished Patisseur! Chef Shelly has been cooking and baking for her entire life and we’re excited to bring her thoughtful and educated perspective into the Cook Street kitchen.

Cindy Eger, C.S.W.
Cindy Eger, C.S.W.
Resident Wine Instructor I Sommelier

Cindy Eger brings 25 years of extensive experience in the bar and restaurant industry along with her to Cook Street. In early 2014, Cindy felt compelled to formally pursue her true passions: wine and cooking. She found Cook Street’s Professional Culinary Program to be the perfect fit. After graduation, Cindy was invited to stay on as an Assistant Chef to the professional program Chef Instructors and has recently taken on an additional role as Cook Street’s Resident Wine Instructor. She is a current Level 2 Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine, Professional Member of the Society of Wine Educators, and is in active pursuit of advanced certifications in her field. Cindy offers a sincere passion and an ever-expanding knowledge of wine, spirits and food to our students with the enthusiasm that you’ve come to expect from the chefs at Cook Street.

Administration

Tara Perez-Haney
Tara Perez-Haney
Admissions | Director of Operations

Tara attended Cook Street’s Professional Program in December of 2011 and used her culinary education as a new tool in her professional arsenal. Her love of food and service was taken to the next level making her a more dynamic culinarian. With a successful career in restaurant management from corporate to farm to table – and front to back of the house, Tara has a well-rounded perspective on leadership standards, employee development, and industry expectations.Tara currently heads up Cook Street’s administrative team and uses her industry and networking connections to help guide students and alumni on their personal culinary quests. 

Hillary Thomas
Hillary Thomas
Admissions | Student & Alumni Services

Hillary joins Cook Street’s Administrative team as our Student Services and Alumni Coordinator. Her experience in admissions as well as marketing merge with her natural affinity for fine cuisine to make her the ideal counselor to guide you through your culinary experience at Cook Street. She comes to us with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing  from Indiana University of Pennsylvania – a program that took her to Spain in a study abroad program. Thus began her exposure to the most important culinary regions of the world. Her organization, kind demeanor, and attentiveness combine with her worldly knowledge to make her a wonderful contribution to the Cook Street team.

Katrina Matthews
Katrina Matthews
Event & Recreational Class Coordinator | Front of House Manager

Katrina joins Cook Street as a graduate of the University of Colorado Denver with degrees in Communications and Fine Arts. She has an extensive background in customer service and joined the Front of House team in 2010, before taking on the role of Event/Recreational Class Coordinator and Front of House Manager in 2013. A lifelong passion for fine cuisine makes her a natural fit for Cook Street. She blends her creativity with her keen eye for details and organization to provide our guests with a superior event experience.  Katrina also contributes to Cook Street’s social media outlets through her knack for thoughtful communication and imagery. 

Susan Brunhofer
Susan Brunhofer
CFO | Director of Human Resources

After spending over 25 years in accounting and finance, Susan decided to fulfill her dream of a culinary education and attended Cook Street’s Professional Culinary Program in December of 2011. Working for a short time in the industry Susan was offered a part-time position as an Accountant here at Cook Street. With many years experience as a CFO and Controller in multiple industries and other schools she seamlessly moved into a role as Cook Street’s CFO and Human Resources Director in June 2013. Susan has proven to be a valuable addition to the administration of Cook Street where she is thrilled to combine her love of food with a focus on helping us to grow and flourish as an organization.

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