Join us for a conversation with accomplished Natural Gourmet Institute alumni, hosted by The Sylvia Center. Panelists will share how they are forging their own path in the food world with innovative ideas, skills, and a network of relationships in an effort to make an impact through social good after graduating from the Natural Gourmet Institute.
We will as the questions: How does a culinary program from NGI provide you with skills to make an impact in the food world? What are the essential skills that translate into other fields of work, such as the nonprofit space, restaurant industry, or entrepreneurship? How will new and future trends in the food world shape social investment, and how can trained chefs make an impact?
Samantha Pagan, Program Director at The Sylvia Center
Jenny Furman, Nutrition Education Manager, City Harvest
Yadira Garcia, Natural Foods Chef and Founder of Happy Healthy Latina
Elena Tedeschi, Founder, CEO and Executive Chef at Well Rooted Kitchen
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More about the panelists –
Samantha Pagan is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts, Sam holds a deep love and appreciation for food and its role in wellness. Over the last decade, she has worked with families and young children to build strong relationships around wholesome foods.
After culinary school, Sam worked as the Head Chef for Happy and Healthy Wellness, a wellness center in Long Island, to help clients deal with major lifestyle changes around their food choices.
From there, she moved back to New York City, where she honed her knife skills at a friend’s restaurant on Hudson Street, before transitioning into baking gluten free and vegan goods, full-time. Sam later left the gluten free baking world and followed her passion for teaching others to a position with the Lower East Side Girls Club. At LESGC, Sam taught cooking classes to teens, provided nutritious after-school snacks for students, as well as catering large fundraising events in the event space. She also worked to develop several programs that would address issues, such as young mothers re-entering the work force through a pizza making workshop, as well as working on programs to empower young women to care for themselves through cooking.
Using her studies and personal experiences, she works to bring those around her clean, vibrant, nutritious, and delicious food. Having a close connection to the communities she cooks for has continued to create fulfillment in her everyday life.
Jenny Furman is a Registered Dietitian with over five years of experience as a nutrition and culinary educator in school and community settings. After working as a teacher’s aide in an elementary school where she witnessed young students already suffering from obesity-related disease, Jenny decided to pursue work empowering others with the knowledge and skills to choose and prepare nourishing meals. Jenny trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute, and then worked as a Cook-in-Residence with Wellness in the Schools, teaching seasonal cooking classes and collaborating with school communities to implement wellness initiatives and events. In addition to Wellness in the Schools, Jenny has taught nutrition workshops with Beecher’s Pure Food Kids Foundation and New York Common Pantry, and co-created and ran the Eat REAL Food and Nutrition Program at Harlem RBI. Jenny currently works as a Nutrition Education Manager at City Harvest, responsible for overseeing programming in Northwest Queens. She holds a BA in Spanish and Comparative Literature from NYU, and an MS in Nutrition Science from Hunter College.
Yadira Garcia is a trained natural-foods Chef and certified Integrative Health Coach, who grew up in the South Bronx of New York City. She is now leveraging her education as a community activist, educator, and Chef under Happy Healthy Latina, LLC, helping to address food justice, nutrition education & health inequities in NYC. She works with several Community Based Organizations and Bronx/NYC Urban Farms as a culturally relevant nutrition education/food justice workshop curriculum creator & facilitator. She has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, The Chew, NY Times, NBC Latino, Healthy Cocina- an original concept by her produced b Zoe Saldana, and Buzzfeed where her plant-based cooking has garnered millions of views.