Featured Chefs

Chefs Mike & Virginia Duppenthaler
Blue Ribbon is directed by Virginia & Mike Duppenthaler. Virginia has studied at Cordon Bleu, Paris; Gastronomic Institute, Vienna; University of Science & Technology, Ames, Iowa. A cookbook author and former television video cooking show host, she founded her first cooking school in 1977 in Vancouver, Canada.

Mike is a former businessman, who, in his spare time, has been throwing large, fabulous parties and dinners since his college days. An avid cookbook collector, he also is a knife skills and barbeque expert. He has been teaching at Blue Ribbon since 1998.

Chef Iole Aguero
Iole Aguero was born and raised in Southern Italy where she learned the art of fine Italian cooking from her mom and her relatives. With 25 years experience in the kitchen, Iole teaches at several Seattle area cooking schools, two local community colleges as well as at cooking schools in California, Texas and Utah. And she still finds time to teach private cooking classes and lead cooking tours to Italy. Iole also has been featured in Northwest Palate, Seattle Times Pacific Magazine and Seattle Magazine.

Chef Justin Branstad
With twenty years of professional culinary experience, chef Justin Branstad is well versed in a wide variety of cooking styles and techniques. He is a graduate of the Seattle Culinary Academy and also completed the highly acclaimed Quillisascut Farm Culinary program. He has worked in numerous kitchens in California, Colorado and Washington and as the Chef of Lombardi’s restaurant. He is currently Executive Chef a Tutta Bella. Justin is also an avid gardener and fisherman- skills he uses to bring our freshest northwest ingredients to life!

Chef Seppo Farrey
With over 30 years of experience in the culinary field, and a background in Nutrition Science and Exercise Physiology, Seppo is a cooking instructor and best-selling author. His first cookbook was a James Beard Award Finalist. Seppo has taught throughout Puget Sound at culinary schools, commercial locations, universities and privately.

With an adventurous spirit of experimentation that allows him to explore and discover new tastes, he has cooked for everyone from the ingredient-challenged to the culinary adventurous. Seppo has a breadth of experience and a passion for creating and modifying recipes to accommodate an individual’s dietary program; whether it’s a personal preference, a training diet, or a dietary restriction due to health issues. Some of his recipes are featured in The Cancer Lifeline Cookbook.

Chef Bill Fredericks
Bill Fredericks, AKA The Chocolate Man, is a well know local chocolatier who both owns his own chocolate supply business and he also teaches and consuls extensively here in the Northwest about chocolate. He has been in the chocolate business for 17 years and he has taken instruction from such well known chocolatiers as Bernard Callebaut, Jacques Torres, Pascal Janvier and Elaine Gonzalez. He has achieved seven certifications ranging from chocolate manufacturing to advanced and expert level chocolate artistry and production. His work as Chocolatier for Choc Elan earned him recognition in several Seattle magazines and a status as one of the three most cutting edge chocolatiers in the region. Bill has also worked extensively with other chefs and assists Blue Ribbon not only in the areas of chocolate and pastries but also in main line cooking where he shares his passion for sensual food production and presentation.

Chef Darin Gagner
Chef Darin Gagner grew up on a small farm that his father tended. Raised on organic beef, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, he became interested in cooking with organic ingredients at a young age. During his first stint at a “real” restaurant, Darin was entranced by the aroma of Veal Demi and captivated by the flavor of duck with truffles. He was hooked.

Chef Darin has cooked at notable establishments throughout the Pacific Northwest and Maine; from the Heathman Hotel in Portland to some of Seattle’s finest dining establishments, including Ray’s Boathouse, Earth and Ocean, Frank’s Oyster House, and Carmelita. He continues to seek out innovative culinary methods and the freshest ingredients possible for his culinary creations. Inspired by the seasons, Darin enjoys discovering the challenges in making beautiful food simple.

Chef Darin has taught cooking classes for three years at Blue Ribbon Cooking School, Bon Vivant and Culinary Events Northwest. When not dreaming up new recipes, he enjoys spending time in his garden and playing music.

Chef Pranee Halvorsen
Pranee Halvorsen is the owner of I Love Thai Cooking, a member of IACP, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and enjoys teaching Thai cooking throughout the Pacific Northwest. Pranee first learned Thai cooking as a child in Phuket, Thailand by doing chores in the kitchen. Her regular assignments were grating coconut, pounding curry paste, and cooking rice.

At age 12, she got more responsibility as a substitute cook of the house. Her mom was a chef of the village and was famous for her fish cake (Hua Mok). Later Pranee worked for the Public Health Department on the weekdays while helping her family’s food business on the weekends. Pranee visits Thailand annually to collect and preserve family and hometown recipes. She also hones her culinary skills by participating in many classes, seminars, and conferences. When she is not teaching, she enjoys helping her local community’s fund raising with her Thai cooking and working on her cookbook.

Chef Tara Hoyt
Tara developed an interest in food at an early age and has been cooking since her mother deemed her “tall enough to see over the stove.” She studied at Johnson & Wales University in Providence where she graduated Cum Laude.

She was trained in a brigade system under a White House chef and did internships in WI, Boston and NY. She has spent most of the last 15 years as a private chef for high profile clients all over the country, including 10 years in NY and surrounding areas. She has even done a stint as the Executive Chef of Casa Pacifica in San Clemente, CA. Tara has retired as a private chef and is now teaching at Blue Ribbon with an emphasis on French and regional cuisine.

Chef Suzanne Hunter
Suzanne Hunter is a caterer, cooking instructor, and food writer. She has studied with Chef John Snowden in Chicago in 1964, 65, and 66. She also studied at the University of Florence in Italy in 1968 and at the Hong Kong Gas Co. in China in 1988. She spent a summer in France in 1966 and again on an I.A.C.P. food tour to France in 1995. In addition, she has studied with Marcella Hazan in Venice in 1992 and went on a food tour with the I.A.C.P. to Norway, Sweden & Denmark in 1996.

In 1997, with Chef Kaspar Donier and Chef Jacques Pepin she went to Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand. With the I.A.C.P. she went on a food tour to Northern Italy in 1998. With the Culinary Institute of America and Nancy Harmon Jenkins she went to Tunisia and Sicily in 2001.

In 2002 Suzanne explored Turkish cuisine with local food historian Engin Akin and local Chef Feridun Ugumu in Istanbul.

In 2004 Suzanne visited Northern Spain including Barcelona and the Basque region with the Culinary Institute of America. She was a contributing author to Northwest Gourmet newspaper for four years and has been mentioned in Food Arts magazine for her innovation.

Suzanne gives cooking lessons in several different schools, stores, and locations. The catering business known as Cuisine By Suzanne began in 1983. Suzanne has achieved a C.C.P. or Certified Culinary Professional status with the esteemed International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Chef Jemil Johnson
Born and raised in New Orleans, Chef Jemil Johnson is proud of his Cajun and Creole heritage. With more than 20 years of experience in the culinary arts – cooking in New Orleans, Seattle, Dallas and throughout Europe – he embraces the best of Old World and New World cuisines. Well-versed in French, Italian and Southern cooking, he has won several awards – including best entr¨¦e and dessert at Bite of Seattle. Jemil attended the CIA in Hyde Park, NY and has been a member of the Executive Chefs of America since 1991. He has been featured in Seattle Magazine, The PI, the Seattle Times and several other periodicals. Chef Jemil has owned and operated several restaurants in Seattle, the most recent being La Louisiana. He has been teaching at Blue Ribbon for more than 10 years.

Chef Wayne A. Johnson
Wayne Johnson traveled the world, experiencing the diversity of various cultures while growing up. In 1999, Wayne was lured north and became Executive Chef of the Mayflower Park Hotel in downtown Seattle. At Andaluca, Chef Wayne gathers fresh local products and uses the seductive flavor of Mediterranean spices such as cumins, saffrons, paprikas and cinnamons to produce a palate of unique and flavorful menu items. Under his supervision, Andaluca has won “Seattle’s Best Mediterranean Restaurant” award three years running and Seattle Magazine’s “Best Overall Restaurant” award. It is listed in the ZAGAT Survey 2003 as one of “Seattle’s Top Mediterranean Restaurants”.

Chef Wayne was honored with an invitation to cook at the James Beard House in New York City on January 14th, 2002. During the same visit, Chef Wayne was also asked to teach a cooking class at New York’s famed French Culinary Institute. Black Enterprise magazine named Chef Wayne one of America’s Top Black Chefs.

Chef Dawnula Koukol
Dawnula Koukol realized her connection and passion for food at a very early age, while growing up on a ranch in rural Montana. She enjoyed working with her mom in the garden as well as baking cinnamon rolls in the fall. Starting her culinary career at age 12 in a small caf¨¦, Dawnula gained experience in French, Cajun, Italian, Spanish, Pan-Asian and world vegetarian cuisines. Formerly the catering chef at Caf¨¦ Flora in Seattle, she is now working as a private chef and teaches across the Puget Sound.

Chef Julie Little
Julie has been engaged in the culinary arts for many years. Her first outing was in the wine and spirits industry as a marketing executive for 9 years where she got acquainted with gourmet food and quality wine in memorable restaurants all over the world. She moved to Asia with her family, where she studied Asian cuisines and wrote food and wine columns for several magazines in Malaysia.

Julie attended cooking school in Thailand and began teaching bread baking classes and Thai cooking in Kuala Lumpur. After moving to Poland, she continued her teaching at the Teach and Taste program at the Warsaw Marriott. Finally, having had the great fortune of living and eating in Rome, she continued teaching and studied Northern Italian cuisine with chef Sandra Lotti and cookbook author Jo Bettoja.

Since returning to America, Julie has continued teaching culinary classes for children and adults and occasionally catering. Her specialties include Tuscan, Thai, Indian, and bread baking.

Chef Janelle Maiocco
Janelle loves farmer’s markets, cooking with friends and writing about food. An advocate for CSA’s, urban gardens and following every food whim—she recently returned from living a year in Italy where she learned a thing or two about ‘tiramisu and ragu’. She graduated from Seattle’s Art Institute [culinary program], and teaches both at the Blue Ribbon Cooking School—and offers private cooking classes in her home.

A food blogger of 4 years, Janelle’s Talk of Tomatoes blog has been featured by Saveur, Food & Wine, Seattle Magazine’s Best of Food Blogs, Hallmark magazine, Seattle-based Restauranteers, Delish.com, Foodbuzz, Foodista, Foodwhirl and more. Her blog follows her culinary curiosities, from Italian to Spanish food, family-favorite meals and deconstructing ingredients one by one. She is forever on the search for the next best bite.

Chef Elizabeth Peckham
Elizabeth Peckham is the owner and creator of Heavenly Chocolates, started in 1995 in Seattle. Featured in print and on radio, Heavenly Chocolates sales have expanded both nationally and internationally over the last 16 years. Her classic line of chocolates is featured in select stores in the Seattle area.

Elizabeth has studied with several chocolatiers and accomplished chefs of varied cuisines over the years. She credits her exploratory nature and passion for new discoveries for providing her most creative teachers: trial and error and delightful hours in the kitchen. Elizabeth has a strong belief that everyone needs good chocolate in their life and began teaching chocolate making classes over 10 years ago. Since then she has expanded her repertoire to include classes on baking and pastry as well as classes of savory dishes and techniques of several cuisines.

She has taught throughout Puget Sound at culinary schools, commercial locations, universities and privately. Elizabeth finds that creating your own food is a soul satisfying experience and enjoys guiding students through this process.

Chef Tessa Scriver
Tessa Scriver has been cooking since she was a little girl. Her mother, an excellent cook, and her father, a nutritionist, operated a “Whole Foods” cooking school. She was an assistant at an early age. She has combined the passions of both of her parents and is now both the chef and the nutritionist.

Tessa graduated from Bastyr University with a degree in Nutrition and a focus on whole foods culinary design. She blends her passions for good food and good health in a place she loves; the kitchen.

She uses local ingredients to create delectable dishes that are a pleasure to experience everyday, or on that special occasion. Friends, neighbors, family and even the neighborhood children love the food she prepares. Her kitchen is always bustling with people.

Tessa’s creativity and inspiration yield meals that are so delicious you won’t even realize they’re good for you.