Burlington County Agricultural Center Instructors
Meet some of our great instructors who present culinary and home and garden classes.
With more than 25 years in the restaurant world, Chef Michael Rakoski’s experience runs the gamut from classical French to American Nouvelle to authentic Italian. His culinary adventure began at the French Culinary Institute in NYC, and spans notable restaurants in New York City, Philadelphia, The Bay Area, and in Tuscany, where he worked closely with Chef Roberto Rossi at Il Silene. Learning the ins and outs with a true Italian chef gave Chef Michael a new appreciation for what it takes to locally source everything and treat food with care and respect.
Tamara Christians is the creator and foodsmith of Spellbound Arts, a boutique company offering services in audio, visual, and culinary arts. Her cooking style is “food science meets kitchen witchery”, and her culinary classes offer guided play in the kitchen and culinary projects using food as an art medium. Students can expect to learn new techniques and recipes and gain confidence in their overall cooking abilities. Tamara is a proponent of local and seasonal eating, and the Slow Food movement.
Nature & Animals
Mindy has been an elementary school teacher for 32 years. Her philosophy is “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” Each of her mobile classes engages her participants with hands-on learning. Using magnifying glasses, studying specimens up close, engaging in games, activities and making a related craft are just some of the ways participants are involved. She offers 1 day classes, series, summer camps, Scout classes and birthday parties. Mindy loves the beauty of nature. To be able to share her love of nature with children is a dream come true.
As a lifelong learner, she loves to learn about all different animals and nature themed topics. Mindy’s passion for Monarch butterflies began in her first grade classroom where she and her student raised Monarchs each year as part of the science curriculum. Although the curriculum changed, her passion for Monarchs remained. Some of Mindy’s interests include gardening, yoga, jogging with her best buddy Marley, hiking and reading.
Amanda is a homesteader, mother and grower of beautiful things. She has been living the homestead life passing down things she learns to the next generation. Amanda is always excited to share recipes or tips and tricks for the kitchen and garden.
A mother of 5, Amanda’s time spent in the kitchen is plenty. She is passionate about knowing and learning where food comes, how to grow it and how good homegrown ingredients taste. Trying to live off the land as much as possible, with continuous gardens growing 3 seasons of the year and ducks that lay eggs daily, she has the freshest ingredients needed for most recipes. Whether making fresh pasta, breads, syrups or salts, Amanda does everything with a deep love for the food itself and whoever she cooks for or with. Living this life and wanting to share it with others is what culminated in The Rod Homestead.
Join Amanda in the Farmhouse Kitchen and discover your inner-homesteader!
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