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Meet our chefs and teachers

Cooking classes at the Marketplace are taught by one of our professional, local chefs in our newly renovated cooking space - the Marketplace. Check out our list of hands-on cooking classes that we have planned. 

Chef Thompson Tran

Chef Thompson Tran

Chef Thompson currently runs his boutique catering company Wooden Boat Food Company specializing in Vietnamese and French fare in Port Moody, BC and Kitchener, Ontario. His award-winning flagship sauce NUOC CHAM (dipping/dressing sauce), XA (lemongrass marinade), and KHO (Savoury Caramel BBQ/Stewing Marinade) can be found in over 130 retailers in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario.

As a former teaching chef instructor Chef Thompson has worked in both the private and public sector of the food industry and has spent many years honing his skills at several prestigious restaurants in Vancouver namely Bishop's, Il Giardino, and Westwood Plateau Golf and Country Club. Thompson can be seen providing lively and engaging information-packed cooking demonstrations in BC and Ontario.

Chef Thompson holds a Bachelor of Music degree in classical guitar performance, a Bachelor of Education, a diploma from Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, and his level Level 2 Wine and Spirit Education Trust. In his pursuit of happiness, he also took a two-year hiatus from both cooking and teaching to pursue a musical dream that culminated in a Grammy Award nomination in 2010.

Thompson now lives in the close-knit community of Kitchener, Ontario with his lovely wife, two darling children, and their lovable fur ball Jetson.

Chef Paula Costa

The lady with a keen palate and an unyielding culinary curiosity describes herself as "Just the girl next door....who can make your mouth water." And she's not kidding. Born in Kitchener, Ontario to a lively Portuguese family, Paula Costa began her culinary appreciation by dining at large, family gatherings. Back then, it was more about eating than cooking, and she admits to cleaning more dishes than plating them. It wasn't until she was on her own, fending for herself, that she'd pick up the phone and place a call home, looking for directions and recipes she could recreate. Once she had mastered a few, she was hooked. Paula devoured cookbooks, cooking classes and spent time boosting her culinary skills with family and friends in the kitchen. She's even cooked for Chef Norman Van Aken, legendary Father of New World Cuisine!

The food-obsessed blogger at The Dragons Kitchen, can whip up a Thai or Mexican meal, just as easily as she can an 11-course Titanic dinner based on the ship's last dinner (which was written about in the New York Post April 2012!). But it's her first love, the food of the Mediterranean - and Portugal in particular - that inspires her the most. Whether preparing a meal for at home for friends, or at her popular supper club events, leading a cooking class or catering for clients (saborosofood), food is Paula's passion, and one she wants to communicate with others. In her words, "If you enjoy cooking, it's not a chore anymore, it's an expression of love.  That is what I want to share with people;  the love of cooking." Stay tuned for her new adventure, where you can book her for a catering event or a cooking class or pick up a jar of her famous Piri Piri marinade.

Chef D

Chef Darryl Fletcher a.k.a. Chef D

Chef D has been a corporate chef for over 35 years. You may have seen him on his show, At Home With Chef D on Rogers TV, or one of his visits to CTV News at Noon Kitchener, CHCH Morning Live, Kitchener’s Rogers Daytime or Inside Brant on Rogers TV.
He is also a regular caterer at The Centre in The Square and other venues and has prepared meals the likes of Blue Rodeo, Michael Bublé, Big Bad Voodoo Daddies, Diana Krall, Melissa Etheridge, not to mention the late BB King, Stuart McLean, and many others.

Check out Chef D's website.

Nicole Puffer 

I have always had a passion for food but it really started to take shape at the age of 13 when I cooked my first Christmas dinner. It was love at first meal. By the age of 19 I was preparing and hosting three-course dinner parties for my friends. Over time my family members started asking me to prepare meals that they could take home at the end of a busy day and preparing dinner parties for their friends. Somehow the word got out and I found myself catering my first wedding eight months pregnant with my third child. I couldn’t keep away from food any longer and it was time to get my formal training. 

In 2011 I enrolled at Liaison College of Culinary Arts in Kitchener in the Specialist Chef Diploma Program where I was able to hone my skills and prepare myself for the industry. I was provided the opportunity to utilize my chef training as well as my background in administration to bring my business idea to fruition. In 2013 Meals Without Madness was born.

Today, along with my personal chef clients, I am filling my days with a variety of opportunities to share my love of cooking and passion for food by facilitating corporate team building events, teaching children and adult cooking classes. I look forward to every opportunity to share my passion and love of food with kids and adults alike. There is nothing that brings us together more than good friends and good food!