Our Chefs

Chef Alan Peterson of My Chef Alan, LLC

Chef AlanAfter spending 40 years in corporate life, Alan Peterson made a decision to retire and pursue his passion for cooking. However, he was sure that he did not want to be part of a restaurant, nor a large catering enterprise, so the Personal Chef business was perfect! Ten years ago, after attending the United States Personal Chef Business Academy, Chef Alan secured his business license, joined the United States Personal Chef Association and launched My Chef Alan.

He preferred to rely on references and word of mouth more than advertising venues to help grow his business. Today, he could not be happier with how things have turned out, having established a returning base of clients and continual referrals, his reward is serving those who appreciate great food, the learning experience and express great satisfaction after a cooking session.

Chef Amber Elias

Chef Amber_Leaning LadderAmber has been cooking ever since she could reach the stove. She grew up around food and flavors—her mother an amazing chef, her grandfather a chef for fifty plus years, and her aunt, a pastry chef. It was only natural that Amber found her way to become a chef. Her passion for cooking and her culinary career started during college, where she worked in the kitchen at the University of West Georgia.

After working in several commercial kitchens, working late hours, and listening to family and friends who encouraged her to start her own business, she did just that. Amber launched Eats by Amber in 2017. Whether someone needs brunch for two, lunch for one, a family-style dinner, coursed intimate dinner party or catering for 125 people, Chef Amber provides the highest quality experience, giving the luxury of fine dining in the privacy of a home, or venue.

A versatile chef who can cook a wide range of food from all around the world, Chef Amber loves trying new things and often pushes herself out of her comfort zone, and always suggests people do the same with food. As she tells her kids, “You only have to try it once, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to have it again.” But, we promise, you’ll love Chef Amber’s food and will be asking, and coming back for more.

When she isn’t meal prepping, creating recipes and cooking, you can find her spending time with her two children and entering cooking competitions (she has won several cooking awards).

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Instagram: chefane92

Chef Daniel Porubiansky

Chef Daniel-Leaning Ladder-WoodstockDaniel Porubiansky began working in Woodstock the spring of 2013, leaving the Executive Chef post at what is arguably the most highly regarded restaurant in Atlanta, Bacchanalia. Porubiansky brings with him a wealth of experience from some of the nation’s greatest kitchens such as Le Bernardin in New York City and Seeger’s in Atlanta. After a career that has spanned four decades, two continents, a fistful of AAA Diamonds and nearly enough Michelin Stars to require three hands to count them, Porubiansky has brought his cuisine home.

A deeply instilled love of fresh ingredients, personal relationships with farmers and decades of experience in German and French kitchens inspires Porubiansky’s development of his menus.

He has lived in Woodstock since 2000 with his family and loves sharing his passion for food with the Woodstock community.

Executive Chef Darryl Start

Chef Darryl Start is a Certified Executive Chef with the American Culinary Federation (ACF). He currently holds the position of Executive Chef with Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta.  During the course of his career, he has worked as Executive Chef and Executive Sous Chef with the Marriott Corporation. Creating an Ice Sculpture of the Atlanta Skyline for the ACF National Convention was a noted highlight of his time with Marriott.  Chef Start’s scope of experience also includes Resort Chef experience with the Walt Disney World Corporation.

Good Day Atlanta, the Food Network and Southern Living magazine have quoted Chef Start as an expert in the Culinary field.

Chef Darryl Start has extensive experience with training students, judging competitions and culinary presentations with recognition as “Most Entertaining Chef for Taste of Atlanta”.

Chef Eva Andres

IDchef.jpgBorn August 4th, 1989 in La Roche-sur-Yon (Western France), my childhood was highlighted by road trips across France with my grandparents.  My grandmother introduced me to cooking and my grandfather to the beauty of nature.  Each season brought its own range of uniquely amazing activities: fishing, mushroom foraging, snail hunting, making soups and jams from every vegetable and fruit.  I found magic in cooking where there is no limit as far as one’s imaginable goes.  Each different region we visited created so many opportunities to discover new ingredients, techniques, and original seasonal specialties.

I studied 3 foreign languages in university before turning to French cooking through a 1-year vocational course and a 2-year higher education diploma in Hotel and Catering.  In the meantime, I apprenticed at Le Tire-Bouchon, a traditional bistro located in Nantes, where good souls Alain and Michel gave me a chance to grow as a chef and shared their knowledge with me.  I next apprenticed at the Plaza-Athénée, a palace in the Parisian “Golden Triangle” under the culinary direction of Alain Ducasse.  There, Head Chef Philippe Marc, taught me humility, the love of hard work, respect for a job well-done, straightforward gastronomy, and the will to surpass myself beyond what I thought I was capable of.

After four tireless years of study and two diplomas later, I decided to explore France in order to know and understand my country better: what makes it unique, the multitude of specialties that France is famous for around the world and a better relationship with the products I work with in the kitchen.  I did it following a core set of goals and motives:  thirst for knowledge, respect for the environment, a view to saving, the determination to push boundaries both physical and intellectual, and last but not least, pleasure!

During this 8 months companionship for which I travelled 5000km on a bicycle, I worked in 13 Michelin-starred restaurants and discovered the hard work of 22 different producers, which then allowed me to work in gastronomic restaurants as a station chef and a sous-chef.

Thanks to a solid professional experience and my fluency in three languages, I created my business ‘Chef Eva’. Through my role as a personal chef, I wish to focus on my interaction with customers; in giving cooking lessons, I wish to transmit my knowledge; and through close collaboration with organic producers I want to keep cooking the ingredients which are best for your health and the earth.

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Instagram: chef.eva.andres

Master Mixologist Jessie Harmon

unnamed-2Jessie Harmon was in her third year of studies at Georgia State when she first stepped behind a bar. After initially making a handful of mediocre cocktails, she became determined to perfect her craft. Eventually her cocktail hobby became her passion and landed herself a job at a well known and established craft cocktail lounge in the heart of Atlanta. Armed with knowledge and well versed in the art classic and contemporary drinks, she was recruited to lead a bar program of her own and began teaching at an innovative culinary studio in West Midtown. She is delighted to bring her passion and knowledge to you, so pull up a bar stool and an open mind to her next cocktail class at Leaning Ladder! Cheers!

Chef Kyle Shankman

Kyle Shankman is the Chef and Owner of Speak Easy Supper Club, a wildly successful pop-up restaurant in the Atlanta Metro.

As a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Kyle has an appreciation for the foundational techniques that every cook should know to gain confidence in the kitchen. As a lover of science (and fun), he and his team at Speak Easy pair those techniques with modern trends and the very “Instagram-able” flair that had them named one of Eater Magazine’s Top 5 Pop-Ups in Atlanta in 2018.

In addition to his supper club, Chef Kyle has worked as an Executive Chef, Restaurant Consultant, and Culinary Instructor for the past 15 years in Atlanta. He has media experience as well, not only as live television talent for the local NBC and CBS affiliates, but also as the host of “Cracking the Egg: 25 Ways to Transform Your Cooking” for online creative class producer, Bluprint.

Chef Massimo

Chef Massimo was born, raised and trained in Southern Italy.  After falling in love with an American studying in Italy, he moved to the states and started wowing people with his amazing culinary skills.  He is currently the owner of Dining with Massimo.  He creates unique hands on interactive dinner parties in the comfort of your home.  Atlantans are fortunate that most of his work is here, while he also does events across the nation.  He is a devoted dad to three fabulous children with his American Amore.

Dining with Massimo – YouTube

Chef Megan McCarthy

Chef Megan is a healthy lifestyle consultant and chef teaching you how to prepare
and incorporate fresh and delicious foods into your everyday eating lifestyle. Her creative culinary experience and enthusiasm brings healthy foods to life while putting you at ease in the kitchen. She is the Edible Garden Chef at the Atlanta Botanical Garden and creates recipes focusing on simple, fast and fresh ways to enjoy the local and seasonal edible abundance. Chef Megan recently had fresh recipes featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Edible Atlanta as well as on Lifetime’s, The Balancing Act. For her current recipes and classes go to healthyeating101.com.

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Instagram: chefmegan101

Chef Melissa Pelkey-Hass

chef-melissaMelissa was born with a whisk in her hand. Over the years, her love for cooking and competition has been carefully crafted into an award-winning obsession. Melissa uses her culinary skills to compete in cooking and recipe competitions locally and nationwide. Her craft has earned over 320 State Fair Blue Ribbons, 160 Red Ribbons and titles of Spam Grand Champion, Fleishman’s Yeast Baking Champion, Hidden Valley Ranch Recipe Winner, KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce Recipe Winner, Eagle Condensed Milk Bar Cookie Champion, Kayro Syrup Dessert Recipe Winner, the Lexington Collard Green Queen, the Lexington County Peach Festival Cooking Competition Winner for multiple years, and most recently, Chicago Cutlery’s “The Cut” Sandwich National Grand Champion. She has had over 100 recipes published in national publications such as Taste of Home, Southern Living, Epicures and Healthy Cooking books and magazines. Melissa writes a blog called The Front Porch Gourmet, blending recipes with Southern humor. She likes to share all types of recipes from “New York Classy to Southern and Sassy”. When asked why she feels the need to share her passion for cooking with others. She simply replies, “Because life is too short to eat ugly food.” To learn more about Melissa, visit her blog at www.thefrontporchgourmet.wordpress.com.

Facebook: FrontPorchGourmet
Instagram: thefrontporchgourmet

Chef Michelle Pellegri

Michelle Pellegri has been baking and teaching professionally for the past 14 years. Leaving the corporate world behind, she shifted gears and decided to turn her passion into a career. She graduated from the culinary program at Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta, GA and rounded out her education with a culinary internship in France. Michelle is an Atlanta native and a first-generation Italian-America. Her mother baked bread, made homemade pasta, and grew vegetables; all of which instilled an appreciation for cooking and eating great food. Michelle’s professional pastry experience includes stints at Bacchanalia, Star Provisions, Rainwater, and Varasano’s Pizzeria. She has taught cooking classes for adults, teens, kids, and home school groups in a variety of settings including Sur La Table, The Viking Store, and Salud Cooking School at Whole Foods. If she could bake one thing, everyday for the rest of her life, it would be croissants.  Michelle lives in Roswell with her husband and has three sons.

Chef Rafih Benjelloun

For more than forty years Chef Rafih Benjelloun has been passionate about cooking and learning about Moroccan cuisine. Originally from Fez, Morocco, his education started at an early age learning his family’s recipes and how to make them. Since moving to the U.S. he has made it a mission to educate Americans about Moroccan cuisine and culture. In the world’s cultures, cuisine is inextricably linked to the culture. Tracing the path of the Silk Road which starts in the Far East as it passes through Morocco, is an amazing story of how food and culture are linked across countries and continents.

It is Chef Rafih’ goal to give you a taste of the culture of Morocco and the country’s culture through his beloved restaurant, The Imperial Fez, in Atlanta, Georgia. Rafih and his wife Rita have owned and operated the Buckhead restaurant for over 25 years. Customers return from all over the U.S. and a number of countries around the world to this popular destination for Moroccan cuisine and culture. Their ties to the community over the years have given Rafih and Rita a wonderful presence and an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many people through charity, education and food.

Chef Sunisa

Sunisa was born and raised in Thailand. She uses Thai foods, simple yet fully flavored with fresh produce and products as actually used in Thailand and she is an instructor with Thai Cuisine in her soul. She is a Personal Chef, food blogger and cooking instructor that was born and raised in Bangkok. Growing up Sunisa was surrounded by family who loved to cook and was active in her mom’s catering business where she learned to craft exceptional Thai food favorites. She grew and early on managed success in education and business, all the while, passionately traveling, seeing the world and always exploring different cuisines. Settling in Woodstock life became happy as a wife and mother. With her family’s recipes and her True Thai Culinary soul, her passion has blossomed into cooking classes and a delightful blog, “Modern Thai Food” (modernthaifood.blogspot.com). She teaches cooking at Cook’s Warehouse, Buford Hwy Farmer market and has served as a personal chef. For the love of the food she still loves to discover new flavors to make the food more exciting.   Now she is ready for the new chapter of cooking. It’s the Asian fusion. She’s bringing ingredients from the west and blends it with Asian cuisine to make exceptional foods. Please come to join the new journey of her food at Leaning ladder cooking class. You can also find her blogging about her life as a mom, chef & wife at www.mamaafter10.com.

Chef Suzy + Chef Clark Neal

Suzy & Clark Neal are home chefs, Big Green Egg aficionados and the dynamic duo behind Unicoi Preserves, a Georgia Grown company with original recipes for gourmet jellies and jam.  Based in north Georgia wine country, in the small art community of Sautee-Nacoochee, the Neals are outdoor enthusiasts with a passion for local food. Surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest, mountains, wineries and farms inspires the Neals to support local agriculture and business. Cooking with seasonal and local ingredients makes for tasty meals – fresh ingredients just taste better.


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