MEET OUR TEAM
After 14+ years of offering hands-on culinary classes in Culver City we are widely considered to be the finest artisan cooking school in Southern California. This success starts with a solid team. Everyone at the school – from our office staff to our chefs to our owner – is committed to providing our students with hands-on attention; classic, foundational techniques and cutting-edge developments in the culinary world.
Christopher Becker, BS, MSL
Christopher Becker is President and Director of New School of Cooking. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, a Master of Science in leadership from Walden, University and the Grande Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. An accomplished leader with a history of success in culinary arts education, he has an expertise in business development, student affairs, finance, operations, marketing and admissions, human resources and regulatory compliance. He is the founder and President Emeritus of the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, CA. He resides in Pasadena with his family.
Dr. Bari Courts, PH.D., MBA, BA
Chief Academic Officer
Management, Capella University, U.S.A.
Dr. Bari Courts is Chief Academic Officer for New School of Cooking. He holds a Ph.D. from Capella University, Minneapolis, Minnesota an MBA from University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio and a BA from Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. His teaching specialization: Quantitative Analysis, Business & Technology.
Justin Cuevo, BS
Director of Admissions
Justin Cuevo directs admissions and enrollment for New School of Cooking. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from California State University of Northridge. He has over six years of experience in the art and culinary industry. Born and raised in Los Angeles and currently residing in Culver City, he is very familiar with the city’s unique and diverse culinary features and benefits.
Campus Admissions Advisor
A successful caterer and event planner, Pam brings her passion for food and keen eye for detail to her work enrolling students at New School of Cooking. Pam is an accomplished business professional and a New School graduate.
Jessica Mata, BS
Jessica holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from the University of Texas- San Antonio and a Diploma in Pastry Arts from The New School of Cooking. She has over 10 years experience in various administrative roles. Jessica has a background working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas and Metropolitan Chicago in Development, along with experience as a Legal Assistant with a Los Angeles firm. She resides in DTLA, bakes in her free time and enjoys the progressive culinary environment available throughout Los Angeles.
Sandy is Student Services Coordinator at New School of Cooking. She previously worked with Bank of America for over 10 years in Human Resources. While at BOA she was an HR Specialist with a focused in Career Development and Job Placement. She then found her passion in Higher Education with work at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and ICDC College. She enjoys helping students find their passion and achieve their career goals. She has been working with Culinary Arts and Business students for over 6 years now. She resides in Sierra Madre, CA where she enjoys being involved in community events with her children.
Chef Briana Bielucke, AS
Dean of Pastry Arts
Chef Briana Bielucke is the Dean of Pastry Arts and Vice President of Operations at New School of Cooking. She developed the professional baking and pastry programs, the recreational course offerings and oversees the New School of Cooking Cafe baking production. She attended Western Culinary Institute, Portland, OR and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Pasadena, CA. While living in Portland, OR, she was the pastry chef at Pix Patisserie, Papa Hayden Restaurant and Baker & Spice. Born and raised in Long Beach, CA, when she returned home she opened and managed several Susie Cake’s Bakeries across Southern California. When she is not at New School of Cooking, she enjoys teaching her son how to bake.
Chef Melissa Cortina
Dean of Culinary Arts
Melissa Cortina is the Dean of Culinary Arts at New School of cooking. Melissa holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from Boston University and trained under James Beard award-winning chef Jody Adams before receiving certification at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, under a scholarship from The Culinary Trust of America. She specializes in whole animal butchery, learning at the world-famous Macelleria Cecchini in Tuscany, before moving home to Los Angeles to manage Lindy & Grundy’s Meats. She is certified in advanced HACCP planning by the International HACCP Alliance and has consulted on regulatory compliance for restaurants and wholesale butchery operations. She currently runs her own butchery business, Bavette Meat & Provisions, providing humanely handled and sustainably raised meats to the Los Angeles community. Chef Melissa is passionate about sustainable agriculture, cooking seasonally, and foraging wild foods. Melissa loves enabling students of all levels to feel more comfortable in the kitchen because, as Michael Pollan put it, “is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you
Chef Karla Lomeli, BA, M.A.ED.
Dean of Education – Pasadena
Chef Karla Lomeli is a faculty member at New School of Cooking teaching in both the professional and recreational departments at the school. She holds a Bachelor of Arts, Arts and Letters from California State University, Los Angeles, CA, a Masters of Education, Adult Education and Training from the American Intercontinental University and is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Los Angeles, CA. Chef Lomeli has broad industry experience and has worked with Wolfgang Puck at Wolfgang Puck Catering, Jackson Sommerset Catering, Koldo Royo Restaurant in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, A.O.C. Restaurant and Lucky Devils, both in Los Angeles. She has taught in the professional programs at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Los Angeles, CA and at the Kitchen Academy Culinary School, Hollywood, CA. Chef Lomeli is certified with The American Culinary Federation, is fluent in Spanish and an avid photographer. She resides in Covina, California and has travelled the world.
Chef Ida Mannertorp, BA
Chef Ida Mannertorp is the lead instructor for the Pro Cooking Program at New School of Cooking and teaches several courses in the Professional Culinary Arts Diploma Program. She holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Communications and International Studies from Loyola University, Chicago and is a Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Pasadena graduate. She draws inspiration from her love of French cuisine. She is the New School resident wine expert and is currently pursuing certification with the Wine Spirits and Education Trust, one of the most rigorous and competitive wine certification programs in the world.
Chef Adam Cole
Chef Adam Cole has worked in the kitchens of chefs like Michael Voltaggio and José André. As executive chef and pitmaster of Maple Block Meat Co. in Culver City, California, Cole developed a fine-dining approach to barbecue that earned Maple Block’s brisket the designation of the best in California from Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn. Adam was born in Austin, Texas and grew up in North Carolina, then moved to a little town in North Carolina called Boon up in the Appalachian Mountains.
Chef Leslie Riley
Chef Dustin Chen
Dr. Derrick Darden, PH.D., M.S., BA
Instructor Culinary MBA Program
Dr. Derrick Darden is an instructor in the Culinary MBA program at New School of Cooking. He holds a Ph.D. from Capella University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.S. from University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma and a BA from Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia. He is a retired Army Warrant Officer, with a Logistic Management background.
We are always looking for emerging talent interested in being a part of our dynamic community.