Instructors

  Chef Paige Vandegrift    Chef Paige is a professionally trained chef. She is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in London and has worked at the award winning American Restaurant, The Pastry Goddess and the Culinary Center of Kansas City. Additionally, Paige has worked in France, both in Provence and with cookbook author Susan Herrmann Loomis in Normandy. Currently, Paige spends her time teaching cooking classes and preparing fine dinners in private homes through her chef service, simple food. To learn about her business, visit her website: www.simple-food.com. Paige also keeps a food blog, filled with cooking lessons, recipes and the things she cooks in her “off” time. Visit it at  www.forloveofthetable.com

Chef Paige Vandegrift 

Chef Paige is a professionally trained chef. She is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in London and has worked at the award winning American Restaurant, The Pastry Goddess and the Culinary Center of Kansas City. Additionally, Paige has worked in France, both in Provence and with cookbook author Susan Herrmann Loomis in Normandy. Currently, Paige spends her time teaching cooking classes and preparing fine dinners in private homes through her chef service, simple food. To learn about her business, visit her website: www.simple-food.com. Paige also keeps a food blog, filled with cooking lessons, recipes and the things she cooks in her “off” time. Visit it at www.forloveofthetable.com

  Chef Rick Martin   Chef Rick is the Chef/Owner of LiMESTONE pizza+kitchen+bar in Lawrence and former Executive Chef of Free State Brewing Company. In his 25 years in the restaurant world, Rick has charted a career in local, rustic cuisine and craft beer, and has been a frequent performing chef at the Great American Beer Festival. Rick believes in a simple, fundamentally sound style of cooking that honors the ingredients. 

Chef Rick Martin

Chef Rick is the Chef/Owner of LiMESTONE pizza+kitchen+bar in Lawrence and former Executive Chef of Free State Brewing Company. In his 25 years in the restaurant world, Rick has charted a career in local, rustic cuisine and craft beer, and has been a frequent performing chef at the Great American Beer Festival. Rick believes in a simple, fundamentally sound style of cooking that honors the ingredients. 

  Chef Nancy Stark    Chef Nancy has worked in the industry for 25 years, first as a partner in two Kansas City area restaurants - the West Side Café and the Boulevard Café - and then as the pastry chef at Venue. After living and working in New York and two internships in Europe, she returned to Kansas City where she worked as Executive Chef of the Culinary Center of Kansas City for 8 years. Since leaving that position in 2006, she has been a traveling Executive Business Car Chef with BNSF Railways, and is also a freelance specialty baker, caterer and cooking teacher. Check out Nancy’s website at  chefshopstark.com .

Chef Nancy Stark 

Chef Nancy has worked in the industry for 25 years, first as a partner in two Kansas City area restaurants - the West Side Café and the Boulevard Café - and then as the pastry chef at Venue. After living and working in New York and two internships in Europe, she returned to Kansas City where she worked as Executive Chef of the Culinary Center of Kansas City for 8 years. Since leaving that position in 2006, she has been a traveling Executive Business Car Chef with BNSF Railways, and is also a freelance specialty baker, caterer and cooking teacher. Check out Nancy’s website at chefshopstark.com.


  Karen Duggan    Karen is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Coach and cook whose passion is to inspire you to “eat well and be well” by eating, cooking and growing real food. Karen’s goal is to teach you the art of listening to your body and to gain awareness of how what you eat and your health are connected.You can learn more about Karen by visiting her website at  www.bodykarebykaren.com  and following her on Facebook where she posts regular tips and recipes at:  BodyKare by Karen.

Karen Duggan 

Karen is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Coach and cook whose passion is to inspire you to “eat well and be well” by eating, cooking and growing real food. Karen’s goal is to teach you the art of listening to your body and to gain awareness of how what you eat and your health are connected.You can learn more about Karen by visiting her website at www.bodykarebykaren.com and following her on Facebook where she posts regular tips and recipes at:  BodyKare by Karen.

  Rachel Ciordas   Rachel was born the same year the word “foodie” was officially added to the English language, and boy, did that turn out to be appropriate. A reformed junk food junkie and couch potato, she successfully lost 100 pounds through healthy lifestyle changes, including cooking and eating fresh whole foods. She shares healthy recipes and kitchen adventures at  ThisOneBite.com .  Rachel is a lifelong learner and has several degrees, a wellness certification from the Mayo Clinic, and has studied cooking around the world including Le Cordon Bleu Paris.

Rachel Ciordas

Rachel was born the same year the word “foodie” was officially added to the English language, and boy, did that turn out to be appropriate. A reformed junk food junkie and couch potato, she successfully lost 100 pounds through healthy lifestyle changes, including cooking and eating fresh whole foods. She shares healthy recipes and kitchen adventures at ThisOneBite.com
Rachel is a lifelong learner and has several degrees, a wellness certification from the Mayo Clinic, and has studied cooking around the world including Le Cordon Bleu Paris.

  Nancy O’Connor, MS ED   Nancy is the Director of Education and Outreach at The Merc Co+op. Nancy directs an on-site class program; develops and executes healthy eating programs for people of all ages; and serves on a number of advisory boards for the Lawrence School District and the greater Lawrence community.  Nancy is also the Executive Director of Community Mercantile Education Foundation, a non-profit sister organization, whose primary work is developing and supporting school garden projects in the Lawrence community and the state. She is the author of the Rolling Prairie Cookbook, a celebration of fresh local produce.

Nancy O’Connor, MS ED

Nancy is the Director of Education and Outreach at The Merc Co+op. Nancy directs an on-site class program; develops and executes healthy eating programs for people of all ages; and serves on a number of advisory boards for the Lawrence School District and the greater Lawrence community.  Nancy is also the Executive Director of Community Mercantile Education Foundation, a non-profit sister organization, whose primary work is developing and supporting school garden projects in the Lawrence community and the state. She is the author of the Rolling Prairie Cookbook, a celebration of fresh local produce.


  Lily Siebert    Lily loves cooking and eating with members of our community, particularly the youngest variety. She worked in the Education and Outreach Department at The Merc Co-op for a stint, so her face may be familiar from her time here. She has transitioned into a new role, but is still contributing the local food movement as the outreach coordinator for Cultivate Kansas City. 

Lily Siebert 

Lily loves cooking and eating with members of our community, particularly the youngest variety. She worked in the Education and Outreach Department at The Merc Co-op for a stint, so her face may be familiar from her time here. She has transitioned into a new role, but is still contributing the local food movement as the outreach coordinator for Cultivate Kansas City. 

  Angie Schoenherr   Angie is a Master Nutrition Therapist (MNT) and received her education from the Nutrition Therapy Institute (NTI) in Denver, Colorado. In addition to her formal nutrition training, she has studied food systems through working on sustainable vegetable, agriculture, and herb farms. Being a firm believer in the healing power of food and herbs, her goal is to help others gain a deeper understanding of how important food choices are in achieving optimal health. You can contact her at  balancingnutrition.ks@gmail.com .

Angie Schoenherr

Angie is a Master Nutrition Therapist (MNT) and received her education from the Nutrition Therapy Institute (NTI) in Denver, Colorado. In addition to her formal nutrition training, she has studied food systems through working on sustainable vegetable, agriculture, and herb farms. Being a firm believer in the healing power of food and herbs, her goal is to help others gain a deeper understanding of how important food choices are in achieving optimal health. You can contact her at balancingnutrition.ks@gmail.com.

  Ocoee Miller    Ocoee is a longtime co-op member. She is an herbalist and medicine maker who has been studying herbal medicine for over 30 years. She lives an earth-friendly lifestyle in the boonies outside Lawrence and does private health consultations by appointment.

Ocoee Miller 

Ocoee is a longtime co-op member. She is an herbalist and medicine maker who has been studying herbal medicine for over 30 years. She lives an earth-friendly lifestyle in the boonies outside Lawrence and does private health consultations by appointment.


  Mari Ruck    In 1983, Mari opened a specialty food store in Kansas City called The Food Bin that she and her sister operated for over 21 years. During that time, she graduated from the Culinary Program at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. She has been teaching cooking in Kansas City and Lawrence for over 10 years. She cooks at home almost every night and now, her husband cleans up after her. Mari loves good food, which can only be made with good ingredients.   

Mari Ruck

In 1983, Mari opened a specialty food store in Kansas City called The Food Bin that she and her sister operated for over 21 years. During that time, she graduated from the Culinary Program at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. She has been teaching cooking in Kansas City and Lawrence for over 10 years. She cooks at home almost every night and now, her husband cleans up after her. Mari loves good food, which can only be made with good ingredients.   

  Jan Hornberger   Jan is a lifelong resident of Douglas County. Raised on a farm in southern Douglas County, she did not go far from her roots, 3 miles to be exact, to join her husband on their dairy farm. Jan and her husband Chip milked cows for over 35 years before selling their herd. They now operate a Black Angus beef cattle operation with their son, Clint, offering local raised beef to customers through their farm. Cooking with local ingredients is something Jan was raised with. Never formally trained as a chef, cooking and instruction is her passion. Attending K-State University majoring in Food Science, she loves creating recipes, and trying new techniques and ingredients. With over 30 years experience as a food presenter, from teaching youth thru K-State Research & Extension as Douglas County 4-H Food Superintendent, to presenting to over 150 people in a corporate setting on food nutrition. As a certified Food Judge, Jan loves judging contests in eastern Kansas. She is also a member of Master Food Volunteers.

Jan Hornberger

Jan is a lifelong resident of Douglas County. Raised on a farm in southern Douglas County, she did not go far from her roots, 3 miles to be exact, to join her husband on their dairy farm. Jan and her husband Chip milked cows for over 35 years before selling their herd. They now operate a Black Angus beef cattle operation with their son, Clint, offering local raised beef to customers through their farm. Cooking with local ingredients is something Jan was raised with. Never formally trained as a chef, cooking and instruction is her passion. Attending K-State University majoring in Food Science, she loves creating recipes, and trying new techniques and ingredients. With over 30 years experience as a food presenter, from teaching youth thru K-State Research & Extension as Douglas County 4-H Food Superintendent, to presenting to over 150 people in a corporate setting on food nutrition. As a certified Food Judge, Jan loves judging contests in eastern Kansas. She is also a member of Master Food Volunteers.

  Lorel Lewis   Lorel Lewis is a retired teacher, a self-proclaimed domestic goddess and a Hobbit by nature. Lorel currently works as the house baker at Signs of Life Cafe. She has loved tea parties since she was a child and has enjoyed "taking tea" at a few swanky tea rooms, but she contends the best teas are those shared at home with handmade treats, familiar cups and loved ones 'round the table. In her quest to learn about the delights of tea she has left no scone unturned.

Lorel Lewis

Lorel Lewis is a retired teacher, a self-proclaimed domestic goddess and a Hobbit by nature. Lorel currently works as the house baker at Signs of Life Cafe. She has loved tea parties since she was a child and has enjoyed "taking tea" at a few swanky tea rooms, but she contends the best teas are those shared at home with handmade treats, familiar cups and loved ones 'round the table. In her quest to learn about the delights of tea she has left no scone unturned.

  Chef Ken Baker   Ken is the Executive Chef and co-founder of the new Lawrence Beer Company and the former owner of Pachamamas Restaurant and StarBar. Cooking professionally since 1989, he spent 3 years as kitchen manager of Teller’s. Ken moved to the San Francisco Bay area to attend the California Culinary Academy, graduating with honors in 1999. Ken went on to work with Chef Daniel Bonnot at Bizou Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. Chef Ken spent some time traveling in Australia and New Zealand before returning to the United States. Ken came over to Pachamama’s in the Spring of 1999 and began to implement his philosophy on food and cooking.

Chef Ken Baker

Ken is the Executive Chef and co-founder of the new Lawrence Beer Company and the former owner of Pachamamas Restaurant and StarBar. Cooking professionally since 1989, he spent 3 years as kitchen manager of Teller’s. Ken moved to the San Francisco Bay area to attend the California Culinary Academy, graduating with honors in 1999. Ken went on to work with Chef Daniel Bonnot at Bizou Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. Chef Ken spent some time traveling in Australia and New Zealand before returning to the United States. Ken came over to Pachamama’s in the Spring of 1999 and began to implement his philosophy on food and cooking.



We cannot accommodate walk-ins. Attendees must register in advance. Must be 21 or over to attend classes that include alcohol. Material presented in class reflects the views and opinions of the presenter and is not an endorsement of products sold or philosophies held by The Merc Co+op.