Update Cover

Sherry Van Der Elst

Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo, MI area, USA

Cooking & Baking at Freelance Chef Instructor


After a successful 24-year career as a journalist working in newspapers, magazines, television and radio, I decided to switch tracks and pursue my other great passion-cooking! You don't need a culinary degree to become a great cook-in fact, most of the world's greatest chefs don't have one nor any other type of formal training-but it's necessary for anyone planning to become a culinary educator. So in 2004, I enrolled as a student in the Le Córdon Bleu College of Culinary Arts with the idea of become a teaching chef. Two years later, I graduated at the top of my class with a 4.02 g.p.a. and an A.A.S. degree in Culinary Arts. After working as a Chef Instructor's Assistant for the Calphalon Culinary Center, a Volunteer Chef Instructor at a halfway house for abused and economically-disadvantaged women in Chicago and establishing a small baking school in Michigan specializing in artisan bread making, I took several years off to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom to my two daughters. Now that they're in school full-time, I'm planning to return to work as a Culinary Arts Instructor, preferably in a technical and trade or a primary school. In the meantime, I've been very actively involved as a Volunteer Chef Instructor with Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters, a program offered through the Michigan State University Extension in partnership with Share Our Strength and Gleaners. I love the Cooking Matters program and derive much pleasure and personal satisfaction from sharing my knowledge of and enthusiasm for cooking with others, while at the same time inspiring their "inner chef."​ Among my goals for the coming year is to obtain Educator Certification through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and to get involved in the Michigan ProStart program as a classroom mentor. And, of course, to help you, the Home Chef, with answers to your questions about cooking methods, cuisines and techniques, and to help you create a great cooking experience right in your own kitchen!


Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo, MI area, USA