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.

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.

Rachel Ciordas Rachel is a cooking instructor and wellness coach. A reformed junk food junkie and couch potato she successfully lost 100lbs through healthy lifestyle changes including cooking and eating fresh whole foods. She makes it her mission to spread the word and help others create the lives they dream of.  Her cooking classes focus on healthy whole food recipes that are delicious and fit into the busy modern life. She is the owner of the wellness business, This One Bite, and shares healthy recipes and kitchen adventures at www.thisonebite.com.

Rachel Ciordas

Rachel is a cooking instructor and wellness coach. A reformed junk food junkie and couch potato she successfully lost 100lbs through healthy lifestyle changes including cooking and eating fresh whole foods. She makes it her mission to spread the word and help others create the lives they dream of.  Her cooking classes focus on healthy whole food recipes that are delicious and fit into the busy modern life. She is the owner of the wellness business, This One Bite, and shares healthy recipes and kitchen adventures at www.thisonebite.com.

Rachad Atat Rachad has earned a certification from the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy with Dr Kurt Schnaubelt, learning about authentic and genuine essential oils in chemistry profiles, cosmetology, toxicology, perfumery and diseases. He has a certification in Herbalism from Heart of Herbs Herbal School, and is currently studying flower essences and hydrotherapy. 

Rachad Atat

Rachad has earned a certification from the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy with Dr Kurt Schnaubelt, learning about authentic and genuine essential oils in chemistry profiles, cosmetology, toxicology, perfumery and diseases. He has a certification in Herbalism from Heart of Herbs Herbal School, and is currently studying flower essences and hydrotherapy. 


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.   

Anju Mishra  Anju has been teaching Indian cooking classes since 1985. She joined us at the co-op back in the 90s when we first improvised a space for cooking classes in the deli seating area at the Mississippi Street store. Originally from New Delhi, Anju has both wonderful food and great anecdotes to share about growing up in India. 

Anju Mishra 

Anju has been teaching Indian cooking classes since 1985. She joined us at the co-op back in the 90s when we first improvised a space for cooking classes in the deli seating area at the Mississippi Street store. Originally from New Delhi, Anju has both wonderful food and great anecdotes to share about growing up in India. 



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.