Our Instructors

Emily Richards

A highly qualified and well-regarded Professional Home Economist, Emily Richards has over 15 years of hands-on experience in the food industry.  This is backed by a Bachelor of Science, Home Economics specializing in Food & Nutrition from the University of Western Ontario.

Emily has authored or co-authored three cookbooks and continues to create recipes for notable Canadian magazines and companies such as: LCBO Food & Drink, Today’s Parent, Longo’s Experience, The Heart & Stroke Foundation, Egg Farmers of Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada and Maple Leaf Prime Chicken and Pork.

Emily’s newest cookbook Per La Famiglia, fetes the celebrations and foods of an Italian-Canadian through the years by writing down family recipes that can be shared with generations to come.  Emily regularly appears across Canada presenting recipes, demonstrating cooking and entertaining ideas and always promoting her passion for food!

Matt Howell

Matt-HowellMatt Howell earned a Masters Degree in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Heriot-Watt is known for conducting top research for the distilling and brewing industry and for training the world’s leading brewers and distillers. While in Edinburgh, Matthew had the opportunity of working for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, a private members’ club that specializes in single cask, cask strength Scotch Whisky.

In addition to being the founder of Saint Howell Tastings, Matthew is the Packaging and Quality Manager at Nickle Brook Brewery in Burlington ON.








Paula Costa

Paula Costa

The lady with a keen palate and an unyielding culinary curiosity describes herself as “Just the girl next door….who can make your mouth water.” And she’s not kidding. Born in Kitchener, Ontario to a lively Portuguese family, Paula Costa began her culinary appreciation by dining at large, family gatherings. Back then, it was more about eating than cooking, and she admits to cleaning more dishes than plating them. It wasn’t until she was on her own, fending for herself, that she’d pick up the phone and place a call home, looking for directions and recipes she could recreate. Once she had mastered a few, she was hooked. Paula devoured cookbooks, cooking classes and spent time boosting her culinary skills with family and friends in the kitchen. She’s even cooked for Chef Norman Van Aken, legendary Father of New World Cuisine!

The food-obsessed blogger at The Dragons Kitchen, can whip up a Thai or Mexican meal, just as easily as she can an 11-course Titanic dinner based on the ship’s last dinner (which was written about in the New York Post April 2012!). But it’s her first love, the food of the Mediterranean – and Portugal in particular – that inspires her the most. Whether preparing a meal for at home for friends, or at her popular supper club events, leading a cooking class or catering for clients (saborosofood), food is Paula’s passion, and one she wants to communicate with others. In her words, “If you enjoy cooking, it’s not a chore anymore, it’s an expression of love.  That is what I want to share with people;  the love of cooking.” Stay tuned for her new adventure, where you can book her for a catering event or a cooking class or pick up a jar of her famous Piri Piri marinade.

Kate Dowhan

Kate comes to Relish with a well qualified resume of hands-on experience as a chef.  Graduating from the University of Western Ontario with a degree in English she followed her passion of food and cooking to the Stratford Chef’s School., where she graduated with honours.  She spent time honing her writing and cooking skills by training as a sous chef at Peter Martin’s 20 King Street and with Chatelaine, Homemakers and alongside food columnist Lucy Waverman at the LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine.  Kate then moved to Canadian Living magazine where she spent six years writing and testing recipes for one of Canada’s most well-respected food news sources.  Today, Kate is a busy working mother of 3 beautiful children, but still enjoys sharing her love of cooking and great food ideas for today’s busy families.


Dana Rourke

Dana RourkeA Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Dana is passionate about helping others along their path to finding health, balance and joy. She developed the services of Food Naturally based on the need she saw in the community for a trustworthy and reliable source of convenient, authentic healthy meals and advice about food and balanced living.Graduating from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, cooking countless hours with whole foods, training in Reiki, and studying Asian healing with Mike Fisher, Dana’s approach to nutritional counseling is very unique. Combining awareness, whole foods and the lifestyle and emotional connections to what ails us, this comprehensive approach is like none other for addressing the root causes of an illness or imbalances in the body.

Charmian Christie

Charmian Christie is a food writer, recipe developer and cookbook author living in Guelph Ontario.  She Charmian_Christie.specializes in approachable, inspiring, from-scratch cooking. Fresh, local ingredients — often from her garden — plenty of herbs and spices, and a bit of imagination are key. Oh, and some full-fat cream doesn’t hurt either. Although she has managed to turn her sweet tooth into a career move, she balances things out with healthy options such as soups and homemade salad dressings.

Her cookbook, “The Messy Baker: More Than 75 Recipes From A Real Kitchen”, features delicious, approachable recipes that will flake, spill and drip their way across your kitchen table.  It was named Top Cookbook for 2014 by The Toronto Star, Calgary Herald and Canadian Living.

Charmian has covered the savory baking beat for Food Network.ca, was the baking columnist for Recipes.ca and is the food columnist for Guelph Life. Her articles appear in a variety of national publications, including The Globe and Mail, More, Edible Toronto, Canadian Gardening, Relish and Natural Health. She is also a contributor to several cookbook anthologies including Allergy-Friendly Food for Families by Kiwi and Share: Delicious Dishes from FoodShare and Friends.


Mardi Michels

MARDI MICHELS is a full-time French teacher to elementary school-aged boys and the author of www.eatlivetravelwrite.com– a blog focusing on culinary adventures near and far. As part of her job, she runs cooking classes for boys aged 7 to 14. Mardi grew up in Australia, lived and taught in Paris for over five years and now calls Toronto home. In 2014, Mardi and her husband purchased a historic home in southwest France, which they operate as a vacation rental property (www.neracvacationrental.com). Mardi is also a Food Revolution Ambassador and in her spare time teaches French cooking and baking classes. Her first book, In the French kitchen with kids, publishes July 31st2018 (Appetite by Random House). Read more at: www.eatlivetravelwrite.com/books


Neil Phillips

Neil Phillips represents VinCetera at private events and tastings.

Neil has taken various wines & spirits courses over the years, and is a graduate of the Wine Specialist certificate program at George Brown College, where he has also helped teach. In addition, he has participated in courses with the French Wine Society, Université de Bourgogne, the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and is a member of the Society of Wine Educators. He passed WSET Level 3 in January 2017.

Chef Simon BriggsSimon Briggs

Simon left the forestry industry in Scotland in 1998 to take a cooking job in an Edinburgh pub.  After travelling the world from 2003 to 2005 working in restaurants in New Zealand, and a cattle ranch in rural Australia, Simon ended up in Canada working as a line cook. Simon’s passion for pastry began in 2008; soon after he enrolled at The Stratford Chefs School, where he graduated top of his class. Simon has worked Garde Manger and Pastry at Rundles Restaurant (Stratford, Ontario), Baker at The Bakery at Pazzo (Stratford, Ontario) and Pastry at Bijou Restaurant (Stratford, Ontario).  Simon also staged at Martin Wishart’s Michelin star restaurant (Edinburgh, Scotland), and at Chez Panisse (Berkeley, California.) He is currently the Pastry Chef at Mercer Hall Restaurant (Stratford) and is in his third year of teaching pastry and cookery at the Stratford Chefs School.

Riziero Vertolli, Metroland Media Group

Photo Courtesty Riziero Vertolli, Metroland Media Group

Hendrik Varju

Our Mexican-Hungarian cooking instructor, Hendrik Varju, is the author of “Mexican Dinner Parties – Complete Menus for Mexican Entertaining. Hendrik learned to cook from a very young age, spending countless hours in the kitchen with his Mexican born mother. He offers private cooking instruction in his own kitchen or yours, and his business trademark is “Preserving family traditions through cooking instruction. TM, which accurately describes his goal in the culinary world.  He believes that food ties generations together and that nothing else is more important in preserving family traditions and cultures.  Hendrik is a strong communicator and brings humour to his cooking instruction while sharing cherished family recipes through his business “Passion For Food”.

Chef Patrick Mathieu

Chef Patrick not only brings his charming and inviting personality to the Relish Kitchen, but  every dish he prepares is made with a passion for great tasting food.  When Patrick is not in our kitchen, you can find him working as a local firefighter with the Waterloo Region Fire Department. Patrick honed his cooking skills working alongside his French-Canadian grandmother and he loves to share time in the kitchen with his wife Andrea and children Evageline and Luke. Patrick has been a contestant on Chopped Canada (coming in as runner-up) and is the author of The Firehouse Chef: Favourite Recipes From Canada’s Firefighters.

Many of you will recognize Sandra as a warm friendly face in our Relish kitchen, but she is also a passionate cook, food blogger and wonderful instructor.  Sandra was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to Canada in her early twenties.  Growing up in the Domincan, there was little in the way of processed food, so she was raised with meals cooked from natural whole ingredients, always fresh, always local. Motivated to stay connected to her past she has become a self-taught cook and learn to re-create these nostalgic flavours and aromas.  Today she is a busy mom of three children living in Waterloo with her husband and two dogs.  She writes and photographs her own dishes on her blog Sandra Valvassori and loves to spend her free time with us at Relish Cooking Studio.

Upcoming Cooking Classes
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  • Tuesday, November 20, 2018
    6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Sorry this date is booked for a Private Event.  Please check back at our schedule for other classes or date options. (more…)

  • Thursday, November 22, 2018
    4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

It’s our 8th Annual Holiday Open House!  Enjoy sampling our holiday menu ideas and refreshments. Be the first to see our seasonal merchandise and selection of unique gifts unveiled. Enter to win a FREE cooking class. (more…)

  • Saturday, November 24, 2018
    11:30 am - 2:30 pm

Making fresh pasta is a fun skill to learn and one that can help you make fun and delicious meals. (more…)

  • Saturday, November 24, 2018
    6:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Sorry this date is booked for a Private Event.  Please check back at our schedule for other classes or date options. (more…)

  • Tuesday, November 27, 2018
    6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Sorry this date is booked for the monthly SOUP SISTERS EVENT.  If you would like to register for an upcoming event CLICK HERE for further details.  All registrations are booked through the Soup Sisters website. (more…)

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