Our Growing Staff!

Meet the passionate people behind Growing Chefs Ontario and learn why food education is important to them!

Andrew Fleet

Executive Director and Founder

"Learning to cook was where it all clicked for me. It was the first time I understood that all of the things I had struggled to put in a practical context in school, like why we learn math, history, geography, or science. Turns out that it all comes into play when you’re cooking. For me, learning to cook was the first time in my adult life that learning became fun and exciting again.  Through cooking I discovered a platform that allowed me to be creative and artistic. It was one of the first times I felt excited to be challenged. All of a sudden, all of the healthy eating messaging that I had been hearing my entire life (but not listening to) became applicable for the first time. I suddenly understood that food that is good for you can be unbelievably delicious! For me, Growing Chefs! is an attempt to help children come to this realization earlier in life than I did."

Becca Minielly

Projects & Volunteer Coordinator

"Food education is important to me because the way to my heart is through my stomach! Food is a common ground, a talking point, a comfort, a community builder. What we do with food is the embodiment of our care for ourselves, other people, and the earth. So I think food education is a lesson in kindness."

Chris Large

Sous Chef

"Food education is important to me because its a valuable life skill to learn and has been lost in the cracks over the previous generation."

Chris St. Laurent

First Cook

"As a chef, catering to a public that is more educated about food means they are more willing to try different things that maybe the general public would shy away from."

Jen Wyant

Facility Director

"For me, it's personal. I have two young daughters at home and I want to be able to impress upon them the importance of making smart food choices at an early age. Luckily they both share my passion for cooking, so I feel it's my role to teach them how to use the best ingredients available to us. That means I need to learn all I can about it as well!"

Jonathan Linton


"The how, what and why of our food choices is a daily – a moment to moment – decision where dignity, empowerment and inspiration are at our fingertips… at our mouths and bellies.  I feel we have a tremendous task and responsibility to this planet and future generations, and that food is central to the well-being and richness of both.  I am delighted and focused in trying to make it fun, relative, participatory and delicious!"

Katherine Puzara

Executive Chef

"Food is a universal language, everyone needs to eat and the choices that you have to make with food are endless.  By encouraging kids to have fun with food and explore different foods and techniques that they have not explored before, we are empowering them to make life changing choices for themselves and those that surround them."

Lena Gahwi

Youth Education Assistant

"Food education is important to me because it makes healthy eating more accessible. A healthy lifestyle should never be something only a few can achieve and by teaching children at a young age how to make their own food, and become more involved in and knowledgable of the process, food becomes more accessible. I believe  that food education is incredibly empowering to young people, it helps them realize their own capabilities by teaching them new skills and allows them to make informed decisions about the food they consume. The more knowledge and skills we share with young people the more confidence and power we give them, these are skills they can apply to all parts of life!" 

Madeleine Say

Program Assistant and Social Media Manager

"Food is medicine; it has the power to heal, nourish, and bring people together, and so much of our health and happiness starts with the food we eat. Food education is empowerment; Everyone should have access to the knowledge and skills that empower them to make the best food choices for the health and happiness of themselves, their families, and our planet."

Marianne Griffith

Facility Coordinator and Education Assistant

"I believe in both the preventative health and environmental benefits of local, fresh food.  Everyone needs to eat multiple times per day.  When people are connected to that process, they are enabled to make positive choices that directly effect our food system, our environment, our health and our over-all well being, as individuals and as a community.  Preparing food and eating together creates family and community and allows us to take the time to talk to one another."

Marisa Verbeem

Education Assistant/Chef

"Food education is important to me because the more we can teach kids about different foods, the more they can create new and exciting meals that they love!"

Phoebe Fraund

Education Assistant and Facility Coordinator

"Growing up my mom took a lot of pride in cooking nutritious meals that were made with seasonal and quality ingredients. Although I didn’t always like her way of cooking as a child, today I’m able to appreciate her efforts and it left me with a diverse palate and a big love for vegetables! Food plays a such a big role in our lives. Through preparing our own meals and being curious about the ingredients, we can connect with our bodies, our communities and the earth.”

Phoebe Say

Photographer & Social Media Manager

"Food is a great source of creativity, culture, and nutrition. Having the knowledge of where food comes from and how to prepare it in a wholesome, healthy way enables kids to see food differently and understand it’s importance to their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their community."

Ryan Wishak

Executive Chef

"In a world of sugary drinks, breakfast cereals, and highly processed junk foods I feel food education is more important than ever. Empowering young people to connect to where their food comes from and the process in which it got there is a very rewarding experience. Above all that, cooking is fun!"

Sharlaine Murga

Youth Education Assistant

"Food education is important because making healthy food choices and developing a good relationship with food is essential for a person's nutrition."


 Urban Harvest Landscape