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Women of Growing Chefs!

March 8, 2018

international-womens-day-2018On International Women’s Day, women across the globe come together to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women’s Day has been celebrated for more than 100 years, all starting with the suffragettes in the early 1900s fighting for women’s right to vote. Here at Growing Chefs!, we are lucky to have hundreds of women that help make our classroom gardening and cooking program a success. And we would love to introduce you to 10 of the impactful women we are happy to call a part of our community.


Merri Schwartz
A true culinary trailblazer, Merri founded Growing Chefs! in 2005 to connect chefs and growers and their knowledge to their communities, and she continues to lead us as President of our Board of Directors. Merri is currently a Pastry Chef at Bald Face Lodge in Nelson, BC.

Helen Stortini
Helen is the Executive Director at Growing Chefs! She possesses a deep passion for sustainable eating and urban gardening. She believes that providing children an opportunity to connect to their food is the best way to excite and empower them about healthy food and healthy food systems.

Les Dames D’escoffier
Les Dames D’escoffier is a society of women involved in the food, wine, and hospitality industries. Their mission is to support upcoming women in the culinary arts professions and educate the public. Many Dames have volunteered in the Growing Chefs! program, and the organization is an annual Adopt A Classroom supporter.

Linda Olson
Linda is the Executive Sous Chef at Culinary Capers Catering, and is one of our long-time classroom volunteers – volunteering with Growing Chefs! Since 2007.

Valdine Ciwko
Valdine is one of our classroom teachers, a committee member, and a former board member. Valdine is a passionate member of our community and helps us review and develop our Classroom Garden and Cooking curriculum. We’re lucky to have her creativity and enthusiasm.

Kristyna Vogel
Kristyna is Fairmont Waterfronts’ Marketing & PR Manager and a huge community champion for Growing Chefs! She does whatever she can to bring amazing volunteers into our program, and support our work.

Earnest Ice Cream
We’re thrilled to have an all-female volunteer team from Earnest Ice Cream in one of Growing Chefs! classrooms this spring. Led by their Operations Manager (also a Pastry Chef) we can’t wait to see how they bring their local and seasonal values into our program!

Andrea Carlson
Andrea is Chef and Owner of Burdock & Co. and Harvest Community Foods. She is one of our founding volunteers, a former board member, and a current member of our Board of Alumni & Advisors. Andrea is one of Vancouver’s most influential Chefs and continues to foster a close connection to the food we eat.

Selma van Halder
Selma is our resident chef and the founder of Fare Kitchen Literacy. At Fare Kitchen Literacy, she teaches kitchen literacy skills and meaningful connection to our food. Selma is our Program Coordinator here at Growing Chefs! where she helps with all aspects of our classroom gardening and cooking program.

Olivia Sari-Goerlach
Olivia is a Vancouver-based professional photographer at OSG Photography. She specializes in portraiture, documentary, food photography, and food styling. Olivia is a Growing Chefs! volunteer photographer and takes many of our beautiful photos.

These are just a handful of the hundreds of amazing women that help make an impact on Growing Chefs! and we want to celebrate every single one! Thank you to all women making an impact on their local food systems and in their communities.





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