Meet the Instructors

Our chef instructors are highly qualified industry professionals from a myriad of backgrounds. We have cookbook authors, restaurant owners, executive chefs, caterers, private cooking teachers, and food editors instructing our many classes. They bring expertise from every aspect of the kitchen, and have experience teaching culinary skills at all levels. Whether you're an expert at caramelizing onions within a cranberry reduction, or you're just grateful to figure out a can opener, our teachers make you feel right at home in our comfortable kitchen.

Our Chefs

Jen Cinclair

Jen Cinclair graduated from the International Culinary Center in Classic Pastry Arts in 2009 after many years of working in the non-profit world.  Though not obviously using her undergraduate degree in Sociology from Hood College, the experiences helped her to gain an insight into the flexibility of an individual’s ideals and she believe taste buds are the same—fickle, influenced by others, and diverse. A former pastry chef and chocolatier, she now works full time at the MMJCC as the Culinary Arts Program Manager while also enjoying teaching baking and canning classes.

Irene Yager

Irene Yager has been with the JCC since September 2006. Irene first learned to cook beside her grandmother who taught her to cook from taste, smell, and feel rather than from recipes. Irene started at the JCC as a volunteer in the Culinary Arts program. Irene has taken numerous cooking courses all over the United States and prides herself on being able to recreate dishes that she has enjoyed in restaurants. In 2006, Irene was one of the semi-finalists in the first ever Simply-Manischweitz Cooking Contest. Irene is on the Board of New York Women’s Culinary Alliance.

Jennifer Abadi

Jennifer Abadi lives in New York City and is a researcher, developer, and preserver of Sephardic and Judeo-Arabic recipes and food customs. A culinary expert in the Jewish communities of the Middle East, Mediterranean, Central Asia, and North Africa, Jennifer teaches cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and at the Jewish Community Center Manhattan (JCC). She also offers private lessons and works for a variety of clients in the New York City area as a personal chef. In addition, Jennifer provides Jewish food and culture tours on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Her first cookbook-memoir, "A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie's Kitchen," is a collection of recipe and stores from her family. Her second cookbook, “Too Good To Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe” is her most recent book published in 2018.

Kate Landowne

Kate Landowne thinks she may have spent more time at The Patti Gelman Culinary Arts Center over the past 15 years than at any other single place aside from her home. She began as a student, followed by many years as a volunteer chef’s assistant, and ultimately became an instructor for children’s cooking classes and adult baking classes. In December 2017, she won a cookie contest at The Kitchen Arts and Letters Bookstore. A home baker, with a background in education and law, Kate enrolled in The Pastry Arts Program at The International Culinary Center soon after her youngest child went to college in 2016. Since graduating pastry school, Kate worked at a bakery in Brooklyn and currently works at one on Long Island. Still, one of her favorite things to do is to teach people how to bake.

Rachel Ringler

Rachel Ringler is a writer, museum docent, challah instructor, and cook who has strong feelings about the important role food plays in life, in family and in community.

Shaya Klechevsky

Healthy, kosher, gourmet chef and educator.  Growing up, I remember being in the kitchen Friday afternoons, watching my mother prepare the elaborate meal for the Sabbath evening.  I recall asking my mother questions, "How do you know when the onions are ready'" or "When do you know when to put the garlic in'" She patiently explained the fundamental rules, encouraging my interest. When I was 11 years old, I started preparing breakfasts. Once college began, my desire to cook took a back seat to the challenge of academic pursuits. After graduation, I decided to further my interest, and attended the French Culinary Institute. At the FCI, under the tutelage of world-renowned chefs, I learned the full spectrum of cooking technique and secrets. Food and cooking allow me to be creative in the ultimate artistic medium — one that stimulates all five of our senses. My cooking "hobby" is now a full-fledged passion and career.

Jenny Matthau

Jenny Matthau specializes in teaching the preparation of great-tasting food via health-supportive classes and workshops on a wide range of topics that include cooking skills and techniques, and healing properties of food. She is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Culinary Apprenticeship Program and Teacher’s Training Program, and subsequently worked there for 27 years in various capacities including chef instructor, lecturer, Chef’s Training Program Director and President. Jenny has long been at the forefront of the natural foods movement, appearing as a food and health educator at Saint Vincent’s hospital, New York University Medical Center, JP Morgan Inc, Robert A. Becker Inc, Euro RSCG, Saatchi & Saatchi, the Judson Memorial Cancer Project, and the James Beard House. She was a featured writer and regular contributor to Biodiversity magazine and authored numerous articles for the Natural Gourmet Institute. Her recipes have been included in numerous publications and she has been repeatedly featured as a chef instructor on PBS and HealthyWomen videos.

Jessica Li Phillips

Jessica Li Phillips has been in the wellness field for the last 15 years as a yoga teacher, integrative chef, and wellness consultant. She believes that healing must takes place on many levels and most recently her work has integrated practices of “food as medicine,” yoga, and mindfulness. She holds the E-RYT 500 level accreditation from the yoga alliance and continues her contemplative Buddhist studies at the Ordinary Mind Zendo in NYC. Her background includes a B.A. in psychology and dance, and she is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute.

John Scoff

John Scoff joined to Home Cooking in early 2006. After 15 years of restaurant work, culminating most recently as Executive Chef of a Lowcountry bistro in South Carolina, John continues to believe strongly in working with local, fresh ingredients. John’s apprenticeships under several highly-regarded, award-winning chefs gave him the culinary expertise and the sense of professionalism he needed to become a well-respected restaurant chef. But in 2004, John truly found his calling when he accepted a position as Executive Chef-Instructor at a recreational cooking school in historic downtown Charleston. As a teacher there, he discovered how much he enjoys sharing his passion for and knowledge of cuisine.

Jackie Topol

Jackie Topol is a Registered Dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and has her Masters in Clinical Nutrition from NYU. Since beginning her career in nutrition and culinary education, she has helped young people, families, and older adults transition to healthier, happier lifestyles. In her free time, you can find her teaching private cooking classes and in the culinary studio with her students at The JCC in Manhattan. Jackie has been an instructor for over 5 years and loves teaching therapeutic cooking classes that feature foods that prevent diseases and promote good health.

Jay Weinstein

Jay Weinstein, a chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America, is a New York based food writer, editor, culinary instructor, and author of three culinary books. He is a veteran of some of America’s finest kitchens, including New York’s Le Bernardin, Boston’s Restaurant Jasper, and The Four Seasons Hotel. His food articles and recipes have been featured in The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Newsday, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, and numerous other publications. His latest book, The Ethical Gourmet, focuses on ecologically sustainable fine foods. He teaches culinary arts at The Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City.