The Young Chefs advisory board brings together chefs, scientists, teachers, and education leaders to direct the Young Chefs mission on a global level. With experts from restaurant kitchens, college classrooms, non-profit work, cutting-edge research labs, and more, the advisory board develops curriculum, supports programs, and cooks up new projects for the organization.
Dr. Vayu Maini Rekdal, co-founder and Visionary Advisor
Ever since Vayu fell in love with the kitchen at age five, cooking has provided countless opportunities for exploration and learning. Through cooking, Vayu not only learned about culture, community, and people, but also discovered the wonders of the natural world. Since co-founding the Young Chefs program at Carleton College in 2011, Vayu has worked to bring his passion for cooking and scientific research to the next generation, enabling students of all backgrounds to succeed in the kitchen, classroom, and beyond. As the visionary advisor, Vayu is in charge of cooking up new directions and collaborations for Young Chefs and spread its message to students, educators, and stakeholders on a global level. Though Vayu goes back and forth deciding on his plant identity, he currently identifies most with Cauliflower. Vayu earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Harvard University in 2020.
Kharmen Bharucha, Outreach Coordinator
Medical Scribe, Minneapolis
Kharmen graduated from Carleton College, where she tutored peers in science, cooked with Carleton’s cooking club, and combined these passions through Young Chefs. As a Biology major, Kharmen loves that Young Chefs helps students feel more confident in and enthusiastic about science. She also likes that Young Chefs provides a creative outlet for students, who don’t usually associate science with creativity. Finally, since Kharmen is hoping to attend medical school, she appreciates the value of giving kids the chance to try healthful foods. Through her position on the board, she is excited to talk about and share Young Chefs with other people. As the outreach coordinator, Kharmen is the main point of contact for outside educators; she supports our programs across the globe and develops the public image of Young Chefs in a wide array of contexts. While Kharmen identifies with fruits, legumes, and grains more than vegetables, her spirit vegetable is potatoes.
Chef Bill Yosses, Culinary Advisor
Former executive pastry chef at the White House; Founder of Kitchen Garden Laboratory
Since leaving the White House in 2014, Bill’s mission has been to explore the advantages of using cooking to teach science and vice versa with the ultimate goal of introducing healthier eating habits to kids. As the culinary advisor, Bill provides input on the culinary aspects of our materials, and also develops the culinary mission of the organization. As a pastry chef, Bill identifies with Sweet Potato.
Worthy Cho, Strategic Advisor
Director’s Financial Analyst at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, DC
Dr. Deborah Gross, Scientific Advisor
Professor of Chemistry, Carleton College
Deborah has been inspired by the sense of purpose and the sense of adventure that the founders and participants of Young Chefs have shown. She thinks their vision is a powerful one, and the impact that it has on the young students with whom they work is great; the impact on the young adults who are driving this program is even more profound. Being a part of the Young Chefs Program curriculum development team since its inception, seeing the progress and the development of a coherent vision for how young people can be inspired by scientific and culinary creativity at the same time, has been so exciting. As the Scientific Advisor, Deborah provides feedback and input for curriculum materials, and also oversees the scientific mission of Young Chefs. Deborah identifies with Eggplant as her vegetable personality.
Laurel Goldner, Curriculum Coordinator
Student at the Culinary Institute of America; Prep/Line Cook for a Napa Valley food truck
As a culinary student with a sustainability background (B.A in environmental studies, Carleton College), Laurel enjoys exploring the connections between cooking and other disciplines. She is excited to work with Young Chefs because the program shows students that cooking and science are useful, relevant, and fun, and demonstrates how science lessons in school really do matter for everyday life. Overseeing the program’s curriculum is a great way to share her passion for food with others while learning even more about cooking and science for herself. Laurel oversees the creation for curriculum and teaching resources, and also develops new lesson plans. She most closely identifies with Fennel as her vegetable personality.
Kyle Schiller, PR/webmaster
Student; Asian Studies major at Carleton College
From New York’s public schools to organic farms in Hokkaido, Kyle has developed a deep appreciation of food and education and is thrilled to be bringing the two together. Cooking has always been one of his greatest pleasures in life, so he can’t imagine anything better than being able to share that same joy with people around the world. With a varied background and great hopes for Young Chefs, he is honored to be part of a fantastic team. As the PR/webmaster, Kyle manages the website and social media accounts, and also develops solutions for Young Chefs in the digital sphere. For Kyle, there is no doubt that Potato best represents his vegetable personality.
Dr. Eric Swan McDonald, Curriculum Adviser
Professor of Science Education, Carleton College
Eric Swan McDonald received his BA in Psychobiology from Luther College and after a decade of working with teenagers ranging from small towns to the streets of Chicago he went on to pursue and receive his secondary science teaching license and MSE at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. After teaching science for six years, mostly in an alternative school setting, he received his PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, Science Education, from the University of Minnesota. Eric’s research interests focus on the situated learning of emerging science teachers during student teaching, how they work and learn with their cooperating teacher, and how that preparation is integral to the effective teaching of science. He is especially interested in how impactful science teachers engage all students, especially those from traditionally underrepresented groups, giving all greater opportunity for success in this discipline. In addition, he works closely with many local schools connecting volunteers from Carleton with local science classrooms and enrichment opportunities.