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Alumni Profiles

Amanda CohenAmanda Cohen

“Getting your first job in a working kitchen is like getting hit by a bus.  No one is ever prepared for the realities of working in a restaurant right out of cooking school.  But the Natural Gourmet gave me the foundation I needed to get where I am today.  The training I got there was what I held onto when everything around me was in chaos and disarray."

Amanda Cohen graduated from the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Chef’s Training Program in 1998, and went on to do everything from interning in the pastry kitchen of Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill to working as a baker in the production kitchen of Blanche’s Organic Cafe.  After working at DinerBar, an East Harlem diner, for three years, she became the inaugural cook at TeaNY, Moby’s Lower East Side vegan teahouse, and then became the Executive Sous Chef at raw food restaurant, Pure Food and Wine.  She opened her award-winning, nine-table vegetarian restaurant, Dirt Candy, in the East Village in 2008 and has gone on to win awards from Gourmet Magazine and the Village Voice among others.

Jacques GautierJacques Gautier

“I entered the Natural Gourmet hoping to learn how to cook.  I completed the Chef Training Program after having been taught so much more than just cooking technique!  Incorporating philosophy and a holistic approach to understanding the relationships between our diet, our health and the well-being of our entire planet is what sets the Natural Gourmet apart from traditional cooking schools."

Jacques Gautier is Owner and Executive Chef of Palo Santo in Park Slope.  His avid support of the NYC Greenmarkets is reflected in his daily changing menu.  Drawing influence from his Caribbean family roots, Jacques's cooking offers an eclectic take on traditional Latin American cuisine.  At age twenty, Chef Gautier was invited to cook at the James Beard House, and he is listed as one of Starchef's "Chefs to Know."  Jacques participates in charity events and volunteers his time to teach Brooklyn public school students about the delights of healthy cooking.  His website is and his blog is

Ruth FehrRuth Fehr

“Food and nutrition have always been my passion.  Although I pursued a business degree in college, and went on to spend 15+ successful years in the market research industry, I always wanted to do something more meaningful with the next part of my life.  When I was at this crossroad, I met Dr. Annemarie Colbin at a conference and she, without her knowledge, gave me the push I needed.

Pursuing a nutrition and culinary degree at the Natural Gourmet Institute has been life changing, both professionally and personally.  In the latter, it has confirmed my belief that food is a basic, key component to health and wellness.  Though basic, its effect is exponential.  Professionally, my degree has opened doors and given me platforms to pursue a wellness career that has no limits and allowed me to make a difference in many people’s lives…and for that I will always be grateful to NGI.” 

Ruth Fehr is a Chef, Culinary Consultant, and Teacher.  She introduces people to the concept of health-supportive food and how to use it as a tool for health and healing.  She has helped many people improve their health through proper nutrition, and helped others enjoy nourishing food while battling chronic diseases such as cancer.  In addition to working with private clients, Ruth is also the Director of Nutrition and Wellness Programs for The Palette Fund, a private foundation committed to educating communities about the healing qualities of whole foods and the role of nutrition in a healthy lifestyle. As part of her Director role, Ruth conducts food and nutrition lectures and demonstrations for adults and children at public schools, community centers, and hospitals. Her current endeavors include managing an expanding Nutrition & Culinary Education Program at various New York City public schools, collaborating with Wellness in the Schools whose mission is to help make New York City public school cafeteria food healthier, and managing the newly developed partnership with God’s Love We Deliver helping them to expand the organization’s nutrition programs through educational seminars and cooking classes at cancer centers in various underserved communities.

Sascha WeissSascha Weiss

“NGI combined the balance of cooking technique and nutrition background I was looking for in a school.  When I started the Chef’s Training Program, I knew I wanted to become a chef.  I loved food and had absolutely no professional cooking experience.  The Chef’s Training Program and the Friday Night Dinners gave me the experience I needed to start an internship at the Millennium restaurant in San Francisco (one of the only fine dining vegan restaurants at the time) which grew into a Head Pastry Chef position.  I’ve yet to find another culinary school that offers the foundation in healthy cooking that we all should be learning.”

Sascha Weiss is the Executive Chef of San Francisco’s The Plant Café Organic, a three-unit restaurant serving fresh, wholesome foods all day. The Plant is exemplary for its dedication to local and organic produce, affordable prices, sustainable building materials, eco-conscious business practices, and an eclectic menu of globally-inspired dishes, many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.

Sascha’s extensive background in natural food comes together at The Plant.  As Executive Pastry Chef at Millennium in San Francisco, a vegan fine dining restaurant, he contributed to the restaurant’s first cookbook.  He has been Sous Chef at the Ravens in Mendocino, Private Chef for George Lucas, and owned and operated Urban Kitchen, a natural foods catering company in Berkeley, CA.  Sascha is also an ongoing culinary instructor in the Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts program at Bauman College in the Bay Area.  His recipes have been featured in numerous publications.

Louisa ShafiaLouisa Shafia

“I’m so glad I chose the Natural Gourmet Institute.  I have always been a healthy eater, mostly vegetarian, and NGI seemed like the best place for me.  I was hesitant because I didn’t think that a natural foods school would give me a well-rounded training, and it’s true I did not learn how to make Boeuf Bourguignon or boil a lobster.  I did, however, learn how to bake with alternative sweeteners, cook a wide variety of whole grains, and make tempeh and tofu taste really good, and those are the skills that have turned out to be the most valuable in my career, because my passion is cooking with healthy, seasonal foods.  With the school being located in the heart of New York City, I was able to round out my education with internships at some of the most exciting food destinations in the country, including high-end restaurants, food magazines, and the famous James Beard House.  I found the school to be wonderfully supportive after I graduated, and some of my most interesting jobs have come through their career services program.  I’m happy to come back to NGI to teach cooking classes and lead Friday Night dinners, during the course of which I inevitably quote my favorite NGI truism, repeated many times throughout my training by various instructors: fat carries flavor.”

Louisa Shafia is the author of Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life (Ten Speed Press, 2010), a collection of seasonal recipes and tips on eco-friendly cooking that was a finalist for the IACP’s Health and Special Diet award.  A former editor for National Public Radio’s Fresh Air,  Shafia has cooked at noteworthy restaurants in New York and San Francisco, including Aquavit, Pure Food and Wine, and Millennium.  Shafia’s fresh and sensuous take on sustainable food has been featured in such publications as Yoga Journal, New York Magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, the Washington Post, and Saveur.  Shafia is also the fresh face of eco-friendly food on, where she appears in numerous cooking videos, including her own eHow web series, Local Eats.  She has developed original recipes for Food Network Magazine, Prevention, Whole Living and other magazines.  An in-demand speaker, Shafia teaches cooking classes and gives lectures across the country, and she writes and blogs about food and healthy living.  She enjoys taking long walks that end at food destinations. To learn more, visit her website,

James BarryJames Barry

“I had always enjoyed cooking as a child, but didn't consider the culinary field as a career choice until much later in my life.  I had just gone through some life changes that upped the ante for the quality of meaning I wanted in all my endeavors.  Cooking took center stage, yet I didn't feel properly equipped to call myself a chef.  I knew I didn't want to work in a restaurant and that I was looking for something different from typical culinary programs.  I wanted an emphasis on nutrition and health.  Discovering The Natural Gourmet Institute was a real life changing moment for me.  The school fit everything I was looking for in a culinary program and was located in New York City, the culinary capital! 

Upon graduating from NGI, my career took off with very little effort on my part.  It was the first time in my life where I was getting back more than I was giving.  The connections and referrals I received as a result of attending NGI helped launch my career and more than covered the cost of tuition.  I will always be grateful to the school for providing me with a direction and base knowledge to expand upon."

James Barry’s culinary career started as a private chef.  His inauguration into restaurant-style cooking came later when he was the vegan/vegetarian chef on the Van’s Warped Tour, which traveled to 50 North American cities in 60 days.  Upon returning to Los Angeles, James continued to private chef and had the good fortune of cooking for celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Mariska Hargitay, and Gerard Butler.  Not wanting to limit his healthy and tasty style of cooking, James started Wholesome2go, a healthy, high-quality food delivery company currently serving the Los Angeles area.  He has also worked as an assistant Food Stylist on many television shows and as a chef instructor for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Nutrition Network program helping to introduce healthy foods and cooking to kids of all ages.

He continued his education by receiving certification as a Nutritional Consultant through the Global College of Natural Medicine and as a Certified Healing Foods Specialist with Immunitrition.  James co-authored the recipes in Margaret Floyd’s book, Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You and co-authored the follow-up cookbook, Cook Naked: Unprocessed, Undressed, and Undeniably Tasty Dishes in Barely 30 Minutes.  James is a regular blog contributor at and can be followed on Twitter at  His website is

Anne GallagherAnne Gallagher

“The Natural Gourmet Institute provides an extensive chef’s training program that not only helps you perfect technique but also educates and informs on various dietary practices.  Being a part of this experience helped me hone my skills as a chef and re-enforced my commitment to whole, local, seasonal cuisine.  With top notch classes, and crème de la crème chef instructors the end result of my training at NGI was not only culinary supreme but also culinary with conscience.”

Anne Gallagher is Co-founder and Coordinating Chef of the nationally recognized coalition Plow to Plate.  She is also in charge of the Youth Chefs Program, which has gained much popularity.  They have had the pleasure of being invited to MGM Grand Hotel in Detroit to cook under some of the best chefs in the area, as well as appearing on the Kashi Sundance Channel on the web, Grains of Change, and featured in numerous newspaper articles.  Chef Anne has also had the honor of being part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools program and attended the launch celebration in June 2010 on the White House lawn along with 500 other chefs.  Since then, Anne has been working closely with the food director of New Milford Schools, trying to integrate better and healthier foods into the lunch program.  Besides being very active in the organic and local food community, Chef Anne has established a very successful catering business that promotes delicious and fresh, seasonal cuisine.  Some of her clients are Catholic Big Sisters, Big Brothers, along with Yale University, University of Massachusetts and numerous private clients as well.  Chef Anne also teaches classes at the Silo Cooking School in New Milford, CT and Different Drummer’s Kitchen in Northampton, MA., 

Bryant TerryBryant Terry

“Since graduating from the Natural Gourmet Institute in 2002, I have manifested all the goals mapped out in my application essay for the Chef’s Training Program (CTP) plus so much more than I could have ever imagined I would have accomplished. Being surrounded by supportive and progressive staff, teachers and students that year provided sacred time and space for deep learning and transformation.

Although I had been cooking all of my life, the CTP helped me refine my food preparation skills and gave me the foundation to explore many new culinary techniques.  In addition, the CTP helped increase my confidence to envision and manifest several food-related endeavors including founding a not-for-profit that trains young people to be food justice activists, starting a small catering company, and developing all of the menus for a book that combines recipes to bring to life a healthy organic kitchen with ideas about food politics, organic food, and sustainable agriculture.  Furthermore, the Natural Gourmet connected me with a strong nationwide network of amazing chefs who are literally changing the way that people are eating around the globe.

My support of the Natural Gourmet is boundless, and I enjoy giving back to a community that gives so much to me.  I am proud to be an Alumnus of the Natural Gourmet.”

Bryant Terry is an eco chef, food justice activist, and author of two critically acclaimed books–Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine and Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen (called “ingenious” by New York Times).  In regard to his work, Chef Alice Waters says “Bryant Terry knows that good food should be an everyday right and not a privilege.”  For the past ten years he has worked to build a more just and sustainable food system and has used cooking as a tool to illuminate the intersections of poverty, structural racism, and food insecurity.  His interest in cooking, farming, and community health can be traced back to his childhood in Memphis, Tennessee, where his grandparents inspired him to grow, prepare, and appreciate good food.

Since the publication of his first book, Bryant has made hundreds of national radio and television appearances including being a guest on The Martha Stewart Show, Emeril Green, The Splendid Table, and The Tavis Smiley Show.  He was also a host on the first season of The Endless Feast, a 13-episode public television series that explores the connection between the earth and the food on our plates.  Bryant contributes essays and recipes to a number of online and print outlets, and his work has been featured in Food and Wine, The New York Times Magazine, Yoga Journal, Jet, Vegetarian Times, and many other publications.  Bryant speaks at public events as well as colleges and universities such as Brown, Columbia, NYU, Smith, Stanford, and Yale.  His website is

Alexandra Jamieson Alexandra Jamieson

“The training I received at NGI was invaluable and rare.  I haven’t found a program like it anywhere else in the world. This culinary school is training the healing chefs that our country so desperately needs. The skills I learned there prepared me for the career that I have now, and I am constantly grateful for the program and the people who made it happen.”

Alexandra Jamieson began cooking professionally at Un Mondo Leggero in Milan, Italy where she created regional, vegan, macrobiotic and seasonal organic menus.  Upon returning to New York, she worked as the pastry chef at one of the city’s finest organic restaurants.  As the vegetarian chef at Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, she spent an entire summer preparing healthy, fun foods for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Her current endeavors include holistic health counseling private clients, teaching cooking classes, lecturing on the topic of holistic health at conferences and universities and food writing.  Her books include The Great American Detox Diet, inspired by her then-boyfriend Morgan Spurlock's movie Super Size Me, Living Vegan For Dummies, and Vegan Cooking For Dummies. Her website is Twitter: alexnutrition

Chris EricksonChris Erickson

“The Natural Gourmet Institute gave me a foundation of skills and knowledge to create my own style of cooking.  Learning how to cook delicious, healthy food stands above the rest."

Chris Erickson has held the titles of Personal Chef, Executive Chef, Consulting Chef, Catering Manager, Cooking Instructor and Restaurateur.

After leaving the Natural Gourmet, he began his culinary career at a small café in Greenwich, CT called Organic Planet (formerly Love and Serve).  When he took over as Chef, business was anything but booming, but during the 3 years he spent there, he transformed the menu, increased revenue 300% and had soup orders from as far away as Manhattan!  Patrons were lining up at the door to feast on his gourmet global cuisine.  Eventually, he opened his own restaurant in Newport, RI, where he continued to develop his unique style of cooking.

He has worked as a Consulting Chef with numerous restaurant groups from Washington, DC to Maine.  He was instrumental in developing recipes and training the staff for the opening of the organic, "fast casual" restaurants in New England know as O'Naturals.

An introduction to nutritionist and author, Ann Louise Gittleman, resulted in his establishment of the Fat Flush Plan Meal Delivery Business on a nationwide basis.  In between sending out Fat Flush meals to his clients, he can be found cooking on mega yachts, cruise ships, private estates, fashion shoots, rock star events or for anyone who enjoys a great tasting and satisfying meal.  Chris’s website is


The Program


You’re invited to learn more about our unique Chef’s Training Program.

Come to our:
Tuesday, September 10 at 6:00 pm

• Meet our Faculty

• Enjoy a Cooking Demo by one of our Chef Instructors

• Participate in our Raffle to win your very own NGI Chef's Knife

212-645-5170 ext. 109


We Accept the


We offer $5,000 to past and
current members of the US Military.
Contact admissions for details

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