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Saint Paul College A Community & Technical College

World Class Instruction
​​Culinary Arts Faculty

World Class Instruction

Saint Paul College’s Culinary Arts instructors are top tier, award-winning chefs from a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds.

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Lachelle Cunningham is a classically trained executive chef and known for her work with Breaking Bread Cafe, a program of Appetite for Change (AFC), which is a non-profit food justice organization where Cunningham received many accolades for her food creativity and social justice work. She’s also known for cooking globally inspired comfort food that thwarts unhealthy stereotypes and fuses global flavors.

“My mission is to normalize healthy eating and reclaim the narrative around health through the exploration, innovation, and economic development of food culture centered on food history, nutritional healing and social justice.”

Nathan Sartain, Culinary Arts program director and instructor, shares his passion for personal nutrition, public health, and regional organic, sustainable fare with Saint Paul College students. He was the opening executive chef for Montana Ale Works, Executive Sous Chef at the award-winning Savory Olive, and Executive Chef at Aix in Denver, Colorado. For Sartain, the most rewarding part of being a chef is mentoring and teaching students.

“At Saint Paul College, we have designed and implemented a culinary arts program that suits the dissimilar needs of today’s student while providing service to an ever-changing industry,” says Sartain. “Our students are our number-one constituents.”

Sean Jones’ food philosophy centers on using local and artisan foods. His career highlights include working with James Beard award winning chefs Paul Bartolotta and Adam Siegel, and serving as Chef de Cuisine at the Marsh in Minnetonka. He enjoys teaching the foundation of skills needed to grow in the industry. “Our holistic approach to culinary education sets us apart,” says Jones.

“We teach the foundations, but we focus on practical experience and emphasize helping our graduates find the areas within culinary that best fit their professional and personal growth needs.”

Jason Ross grew up and completed his culinary training in New York City, then built a successful career at high-profile restaurants including Bouley, Aquavit, and Solera, where he served as executive chef. He has been an instructor at Saint Paul College since 2006, where the best part of the job is getting the opportunity to work with former students in the field.

“One thing we do really well is create students who are workforce ready,” says Ross. “They are scrappy, hardworking, and have a goal and idea of what they want.”

Pierre Rabbia was born into cooking; his family has owned a pastry shop in southern France for two generations. He attended two French culinary schools and worked at several restaurants in France before moving to the United States in 1999 to become a culinary instructor. Rabbia specializes in restaurant management and organization, menu planning, beverage programs, baking, pastry, and wine.

“Our students can follow their dreams,” says Rabbia. “They are not limited to any specific occupation or industry area – they are able to map careers according to their goals and life, and our program provides an excellent platform to achieve them.”

Sara Johannes started as a theater major at the University of Minnesota, until a redirection ultimately led her to Saint Paul College for culinary school. After graduating she served as executive chef for Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty restaurant in Dallas and WP24 at the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles, and even appeared on season 11 of Bravo’s Top Chef before returning to teach at Saint Paul College.

“Our Culinary Arts program offers invaluable experience you could never gain from a job alone ," says Johannes. "A job will teach you one way, on one station, with one style on their schedule. Culinary school expands to many techniques, with many chefs to work under, who offer myriad styles, types of cuisines, and backgrounds.”

This article originally appeared in our College Magazine - Fall 2019. Download a free copy to read more stories like this one.

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