Cook. Explore. Celebrate.


Vanessa Silva, Founder & Director

Vanessa’s involvement with food started early, in her grandmother’s kitchen back in Brazil, making aioli and shaping gnocchi by hand. Vanessa went on to get a degree in Food Engineering and later on a Masters in Holistic Nutrition. Vanessa’s passion for food and nutrition stems from the core beliefs that it bridges us as individuals to community and environment, that it is a gift and medicine, and that it can be a rooting element to our health. These beliefs - and the joy that comes with them - are her motivation to share her work with students, friends and family.

Eliza Martin, Head Chef & Director of Culinary Education

Eliza has worked in restaurants for over 10 years, her culinary adventures igniting in New York City. There, she studied at the Institute of Culinary Education and worked at the Rachael Ray Show, Saveur Magazine, and multiple high-end catering companies and restaurants. Sponsored by the James Beard Foundation, she was brought to Chicago to serve as their first of many Women in Culinary Leadership. She worked in Indian and Creole restaurants, then, longing to educate, launched her own catering company and aqua ponic farming company. Chef Eliza earned a Culinary Certificate from Institute of Culinary Education and is a recent Food Network Chopped Champion. Her love of education has carried her to where she is today - working as a children's culinary educator! 

Jessie Welsh, Director of Events & Culinary Educator

Jessie completed her B.S. in Business at UC Berkeley, she followed her passion for transforming big ideas into reality to LinkedIn where she planned corporate, training, and social impact events. Concurrently, she found ways to exercise her passion for working with youth from serving as an advocate for youth in foster care to guiding youth kayaking trips across the Bay. Today, she’s ecstatic to have found such a purpose-driven team that enables her to blend these two worlds - event planning and youth empowerment. She has the follow credits and certifications: Court-Appointed Youth Advocate (120hr training); Disability Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Training; Basic First Aid/CPR Certified; Mandated Reporter Certified.


Julia Cabrera, Events & Education Coordinator

Julia has always had a passion for providing personalized and high-quality educational experiences for youth. With 8+ years of experience in STEAM based curriculum development for youth, she brings her talents to the Culinary Artistas Team to support the creation of inclusive and fun learning experiences. She started her advocacy for high-quality education for underserved communities at the age of 16 by attending her school district's meetings to push for allocation of fundings into arts programs. Since then she's worked in various positions working with children in schools all over the larger Bay Area to provide enriching educational experiences. Additionally, she holds a B.A. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and is pursuing a M.S. in UX and HCI with a minor in Creativity and Innovation with Drexel University. Combining her knowledge in culture, people, education, and instinctive urge to help, she's excited to build strong relationships with the ever-growing Culinary Artistas Community!   

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