Eco Top Chef Marin 2013 Judges
Gordon Drysdale began his restaurant career as a dishwasher at the age of 16 and hasn’t left the kitchen since. Although initially drawn to the buzz of a busy commercial kitchen, it was the creativity of cooking that really attracted him. As someone who spent the better part of his teens in the high school art room, Drysdale appreciated the artistic aspects of the culinary world. Following high school, he brought together his attraction to the kitchen with his creative pursuits by enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Drysdale opened Gordon’s House of Fine Eats in 1999 to rave reviews and a packed house. His innovative take on classic American cuisine translated into a menu of comforting old childhood favorites executed with inventive new twists. A few years later Drysdale joined Pizza Antica. He is now the Executive Chef at the iconic Sweetwater Music Hall located in Mill Valley, CA.
Food Services Manager, Walker Creek Ranch / Marin County Office of Education
Walker Creek Ranch is a charter school providing an outdoor, four or five day, science program. Fifth graders visit from Monday through Friday, as well as business and ‘sustainable food conferences’. Our kitchen produces approximately 1,000 meals a day, all of which are seasonal and made from scratch. We utilize organic ingredients as much as possible, and require that our conventional produces is fresh, locally grown and seasonal. Walker Creek has a one acre garden which is used as an educational and production garden for the kitchen. Sunita does overall planning and logistics for outdoor education, conference and weddings. Five years ago, we transitioned all our food from packaged to fresh and local. Sunita also manages the USDA and CDE School Meals Initiative requirement, including special dietary needs for all guests.
Chef Jason Hull is currently the Director of Food Services and Head Chef and Co-Director of the Culinary Farm program at Marin Country Day School. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, in the Napa Valley, Chef Jason worked as a pastry chef at some notable establishments such as; The Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur California, Skywalker Ranch also in Marin County California and Brant Point Grill on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. After his stints in the restaurant world he turned his focus to kids health teaching Physical Education for 3 years before heading back to the kitchen to prepare healthy lunches. Chef Jason is committed to serving kids healthy food that fuels their bodies with an emphasis on local and organic ingredients. He is proud of his partnership with Marin Organic, a local non-profit that connects farmers with schools. Chef Jason recently visited the White House to help Michelle Obama launch her new campaign called “Chefs Move to Schools” for better school lunch’s nation wide.
First Grade Teacher / Green Team Coordinator, Venetia Valley Elementary
Thalia is a first grade teacher and green enthusiast! I made my footprint in the world of green five years ago, while researching my Master thesis. I spent a year investigating all aspects and benefits of a “green” school. Including curriculum, facilities, and products. After literally immersing myself in the benefits of this education system, I have since, tried to spread the love. This will be my fourth year teaching first grade at Venetia Valley School. Three years ago I started the schools first green team made of students, parents and teachers. The students meet twice a week with a Next Generation volunteer who creates highly engaging curriculum. This is the schools only club. With the green team we have created a weekly recycling system called Cash for Trash, started a Kids Turning Green classroom, engaged the community in organic eating panel events, brought salad bars to our school, teamed up with Teens Turning Green to engage faculty and community to “Make the Switch,” and are now working to bring gardens to each classroom with earth boxes. I was honored to receive the Excellence in Education Award for San Rafael and Dixie School Districts. On weekends you will find me at Lake Lagunitas with my dog Lucy.
Tyler has been working in farmers markets for over 23 years. He has worn most every hat imaginable since he joined AIM in 2000, ranging from managing markets to leading our Diggin the Market tours to heading our farm audit program. He now leads our educational outreach programs. He especially loves to work with children of all ages empowering them to make their own healthy food choices by leading fun-filled farmers market tours of our farmers markets (his new nickname is “Mr. Green Jeans”), as well as engaging students by talking with them directly at their schools. He loves to challenge the students by sending them on a Chef Challenge at the Market where the students must create a tasty creative meal using only the fresh seasonal products found at the farmers market.
Executive Chef / Partner, The Tavern at Lark Creek
Chef Aaron Wright’s passion for the celebration of food started at a young age while helping tend his family’s vegetable garden in Sonoma, California, where they sourced from farm chickens, goats and garden vegetables for their home-cooked meals. This importance placed upon food early on helped craft Wright’s love for the culinary world. He brings a diverse background, creative talent and cooking expertise to the Lark Creek Restaurant Group while overseeing The Tavern at Lark Creek’s commitment to seasonal farm-fresh dining.