Our Team

Chef Mark Reinfeld is joined by Naturopathic Doctor Ashley Boudet along with a team of dedicated vegan educators and proponents. Meet the team!

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Chef Mark Reinfeld

Founder and Executive Chef

An award-winning chef, educator and authority on plant-based cuisine, Chef Mark Reinfeld is the founding chef of the Vegan Fusion Culinary Academy. Mark has over 25 years experience preparing creative vegan and raw cuisine and has led plant-based cooking workshops and chef training around the world.

In 2017, he was inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame. He was the founding chef of The Blossoming Lotus Restaurant, voted "Best Restaurant on Kaua’i" Mark's first cookbook, Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, was named “Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the USA.”

Since then, Mark has authored seven more books including the bestselling 30-Minute Vegan series, as well as his latest books detailing the links between health and plant-based diets.

The Vegan Fusion Culinary Academy is the culmination of his dream to bring mindfulness, passion and compassion to the culinary world by encouraging more people to discover the pleasures and benefits of plant-based cooking.

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Dr. Ashley Boudet   Founder   Ashley is a Naturopathic Doctor trained in Primary Care Medicine. As a Naturopathic Doctor, she is committed to promoting a connection to nature as a pathway to healing.   Ashley has always had a passion for wellness and nutrition. After spending several years in the social work and behavior research fields, Ashley decided to integrate her interests in helping people thrive by pursuing a doctoral degree at the National College of Natural Medicine in Oregon.  During her many years of studying physiology, nutrition, psychology, public health and naturopathic medicine, she began to understand that the true meaning of wellness lies within the individual. From this understanding she accepts a call to support others on their own personal quests for healing.  - Executive Board Member, International Congress of Naturopathic Medicine  - Member, Florida Naturopathic Physicians Association  - Member, Oregon Association of Naturopathic Physicians

Dr. Ashley Boudet

Founder

Ashley is a Naturopathic Doctor trained in Primary Care Medicine. As a Naturopathic Doctor, she is committed to promoting a connection to nature as a pathway to healing. 

Ashley has always had a passion for wellness and nutrition. After spending several years in the social work and behavior research fields, Ashley decided to integrate her interests in helping people thrive by pursuing a doctoral degree at the National College of Natural Medicine in Oregon.

During her many years of studying physiology, nutrition, psychology, public health and naturopathic medicine, she began to understand that the true meaning of wellness lies within the individual. From this understanding she accepts a call to support others on their own personal quests for healing.

- Executive Board Member, International Congress of Naturopathic Medicine
- Member, Florida Naturopathic Physicians Association
- Member, Oregon Association of Naturopathic Physicians

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Courtnay Dietz

Founder

Courtnay graduated from The Wharton School of Business and earned a J.D. from Concord Law School. After twenty years, she left the corporate world to focus on her lifelong passions of health, wellness and education. Courtnay is a co-founder of The WishList Network, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and a member of The Board of Directors of Almost Vegan Cooking School. She has earned the following professional certificates:

  • Professional Plant Based Chef Certificate – Rouxe Cooking School

  • Plant Based Nutrition Certificate – eCornell

  • Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator – Main Street Vegan Academy

  • Certified Vegan Fusion Chef

Courtnay has enjoyed sharing all she’s learned and experienced with family and friends, and recently with an online audience through cooking and gardening videos. She has participated in cooking demos at Colorado’s VegFest and assisted with other corporate and consulting catering events. She looks forward to continuing to share her love of plant based cooking as a way to promote a more compassionate and sustainable world.

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David Dietz

Founder

As an entrepreneur and investor, David is focused on health and wellness as well as promoting a sustainable future through plant-based living. 

After successful careers in construction and real estate, David has spent the last ten years working to improve the lives of people in his community. He co-founded The WishList Network, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supporting local families enduring unforeseen hardship. As a Founder and Director of Fresh Harvest Food Bank, he distributed fresh produce to thousands of families in need throughout the Denver metro area.

David continues to educate himself and others on the importance of maintaining a sustainable environment and animal welfare. David serves on the Board of Directors for Almost Vegan Cooking School, developing its online curriculum and overseeing video production and editing.  

 In addition, David continues to provide advice and consulting to local small business owners and non-profit organizations.

 

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Karen Barela

Executive Advisor

For 15 years, Karen Barela was COO of Culinary School of the Rockies (CSR) in Boulder Colorado, leading the School through myriad changes and major growth.  She managed the process of earning federal accreditation for the school and developed an innovative farm to fork work/study program as part of the school’s professional culinary programs. She later helped guide the owner of CSR through the process of profitably selling the school. Prior to CSR, Karen worked for the Brewers Association (the business responsible for the Great American Beer Festival), where she directed the team that produced annual conferences and beer competitions. She also traveled to Japan where she led a team who taught Japanese beer enthusiasts all about craft beer and various beer styles. 

Karen Barela has a B.A. with an emphasis in Sculpture from the California State University, Fullerton, and an M.B.A from the University of Colorado, Denver. 

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Fran Costigan

Guest Instructor

Culinary instructor, cookbook author, consultant, and Director of Vegan Pastry at the Rouxbe Culinary School, Fran Costigan is internationally recognized as the innovative pioneering pastry chef who marries healthy eating with sumptuous tastes.

Professionally trained, Fran was a chef in both traditional and vegan pastry kitchens before moving into teaching over 25 years ago. Her unapologetically luscious confections lack nothing — except dairy, eggs, white sugar, and cholesterol. Fran’s vegan desserts are appropriate for everyone who loves dessert, whether or not dietary restrictions are an issue.

A sought-after presenter, you can find Fran sharing her passion across North America and Europe, at schools, conferences, festivals, and corporations, resorts, spas, cruise ships and in private homes too.

Professional memberships include the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, Les Dames d’Escoffier, and the Association of Food Journalists, Fran is a proud to serve on the advisory boards of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Foods, Main Street Vegan Academy, and the Vegan Trade Council.

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John Pierre

Guest Presenter

Nutrition and fitness consultant John Pierre has trained hard-core athletes, Hollywood celebrities, rock-stars, and Fortune 500 executives.

Assisting a wide range of clientele and people of all backgrounds and fitness levels, John’s passion is to help everyone. Credited as being one of the first pioneers in the U.S. to create “brain-building” classes that enhance cognitive fitness in our geriatrics community, 30 years of experience has provided John with a unique understanding and ability to help others with cognitive challenges.

John Pierre has been inducted into the North American Vegetarian Society Hall of fame, and continues to contribute widely to magazines and publications in the area of health and fitness. John is also the author of several books, including: The Pillars of Health, and Strong, Savvy, Safe, available at www.johnpierre.com, and has starred in numerous health-promoting DVD’s and online programs that reach countless individuals all over the world. He is also the co-founder of Living With Harmony, a nonprofit organization (livingwithharmony.org).

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Ellen Jaffe Jones

Guest Presenter

Ellen Jaffe Jones is the prolific myth-busting author of 6 books, including the classic, Eat Vegan on $4 a Day and the best-selling Vegan Sex. Voted PETA's 2014 Sexiest Vegan over 50, Ellen chooses running as her activism because so many have told her at races, while she holds one of her 185 5K or longer running age group awards that "you can't run on a vegan diet." Thousands at races see her on the podium always wearing a bright vegan message singlet.

Ellen was a TV investigative reporter for 18 years and won 2 Emmys and the National Press Club Award. Figuring out the truth about food as she watched her mom, aunt and both sisters get breast cancer, became the investigative reporting job of her life. Her family was part of the Brca1 and Brca2 gene studies. She is the only adult female in her family without breast cancer.

A sought after speaker on the national circuit often multiple times at the same Vegfest, Ellen lives and runs the talk, racing in Sarasota, Florida. When she's not speaking at a Vegfest, she's coaching others how to train for races without injury. She is an AFAA certified personal trainer and RRCA certified running coach.

Ellen was a high school girls' track and field coach before her books came out. Her other titles: Kitchen Divided, Paleo Vegan (the first book to redefine and re-examine the craze for vegans), Vegan Fitness for Mortals, and Vegan for One. In her age group, she got a gold medal in the recent National Senior Games in the 4x100 meters and was only 1 of 2 women in her 65-69 age group who competed in all 7 track events in Albuquerque. To qualify for Nationals, Ellen placed 1st in Florida in all track events: 50, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 meters.

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Chef Ron Pickarski

Guest Instructor

Raised in the restaurant business and artistically inclined Chef Pickarski in 1973 he  graduated from a two year culinary program entering the industry as an executive chef. Chef Pickarski became a vegan in 1976 for health reason and was certified as the first vegan Executive Chef (CEC) in 1981 by the American Culinary Federation.  Starting in 1980 he competed in the International Culinary Olympics five times winning seven medals, including gold, with vegan cuisine. He was certified as a culinary educator in 1984 and authored 4 cookbooks on vegan cuisine. His latest cookbook is endorsed by the American Master Chefs Order is The Classical Vegetarian Cookbook for Professional Chefs and Inspired Cooks.

In 1982 Chef Pickarski became a vegan Culinologist specializing in plant-proteins, especially pulses, and pastries.  In 1992 he founded Eco-Cuisine as the first plant-based foodservice company in the US of which he is currently the president.

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JL FIELDS

Guest Instructor

JL Fields is a vegan chef and coach and a chef consultant to food, health, and wellness brands. She is the founder and culinary director of the Colorado Springs Vegan Cooking Academy and a Master Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator. JL is the author of several cookbooks: Fast & Easy Vegan Cookbook, Vegan Meal Prep, The Vegan Air Fryer, and Vegan Pressure Cooking. She is the co-author of The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook with Victoria Moran and Vegan for Her with Virginia Messina.

JL writes the monthly vegan dining review for the Colorado Springs Gazette. She produces vegan markets and the annual vegan restaurant week in Colorado Springs where she lives with her husband Dave and their rescued cat Oliver and rescued dog Harry.

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Ocean Robbins

Guest Presenter

Ocean Robbins is the CEO and co-founder of the 500,000+ member Food Revolution Network — one of the largest communities of healthy eating advocates on the planet. He has held hundreds of live seminars and events that have touched millions of lives from 190 nations.

Ocean is founder and was director of the nonprofit YES!, which has led transformational events for 650,000 leaders in 65 nations. He’s a recipient of the national Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service, the Freedom’s Flame Award, the Harmon Wilkinson Award, and numerous other honors. Ocean has served as adjunct professor for Chapman University, and on the boards of Friends Of The Earth, Creating Our Future, Tipping Point Network, Turning Tide Coalition, and many other organizations.

Ocean’s grandfather founded Baskin-Robbins, and his father, John Robbins, walked away from the family company and ice cream fortune to write bestsellers, including Diet for a New America, and to become a renowned health advocate. Now, Ocean is on a mission to transform the industrialized food culture into one that celebrates and supports healthy people and a healthy planet, and he’s inviting YOU to join the food revolution.

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Laurie Marbas

Guest Presenter

Laurie Marbas is double board certified family medicine and lifestyle medicine physician utilizing food as medicine since 2012. She has worked previously creating a new medical model combining the power of nutrient-dense foods and intensive clinical psychological therapy to treat not only food addiction but chronic disease.

She currently is the Managing Editor for the Plantrician Project’s International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention and works closely with the journal’s Editor in Chief, Dr. Kim Williams. The journal is focused on plant-based research and bringing this important work to the forefront of modern medicine and the general public. She is also co-founder of Healthy Human Revolution whose mission is to provide the resources that will empower individuals with the knowledge, tools and mindset to successfully adopt and sustain a whole food plant based diet. (healthyhumanrevolution.com)

She received her dual degrees (MD and MBA) from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine and TTU School of Business. Laurie was awarded the Texas Tech University School of Medicine Gold Headed Cane Award, a symbol for excellence in the art of medicine and the care of patients. She wrote seven books while in medical school, six of which were in a series called “Visual Mnemonics”. These books used cartoons to help memorize vast amounts of information, which helped her when she was a mom attending medical school. She is a USAF veteran having served in the Middle East and South America. She is a wife, mom of three grown children, host of the Healthy Human Revolution podcast, author, speaker and an avid runner.

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Miyoko Schinner

Guest Instructor

Miyoko Schinner is the tenacious, award-winning vegan celebrity chef behind Miyoko’s. Her passion for her craft and mission is unrivaled. The publication of her groundbreaking book, Artisan Vegan Cheese, kicked off the start of the vegan cheese revolution.

Growing up as a vegetarian, Miyoko’s passion for fine food ignited during the 1980’s when rich and flavorful French cuisine and gourmet cheeses were a huge trend in her home city of Tokyo. In true Miyoko style, she went vegan and boldly set out to create plant-based cheese and cuisine as artistic and decadent as the finest French foods she fell in love with.

Touching people through food, and animals through activism and actual care, Miyoko balances her love of food and animals. In the wee hours of morning, she can be found shoveling manure and feeding hay to the motley crew at Rancho Compasión, and later, leading the charge at Miyoko’s.

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Steve Prussack

Guest Instructor

is known as the most sought after expert in helping others get lean and healthy with juicing. He is famous for creating the world’s most powerful natural juice therapy program using The Juice Guru Method® to help others get healthy naturally while avoiding crazy fads and B.S. Diets.

Steve is the #1 Amazon Bestselling co-author of “Juice Guru: Transform Your Life with One Juice a Day” and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Juice Fasting” He also certifies students all over the world to become accredited Certified Juice Therapists as part of his certification program in Juice Guru Institute.

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Victoria Moran

Guest Presenter

Victoria Moran is a vegan of over three decades, a yoga practitioner of half a century, and voted “Peta’s Sexiest Vegan Over 50” in 2016. Listed by VegNews among the Top 10 Living Vegetarian Authors, Victoria made her reputation in the self-help and spirituality genre with books including the international bestseller, Creating a Charmed Life. In the vegan space, she’s written books including The Love-Powered Diet, The Good Karma Diet, and the iconic Main Street Vegan.

Moran is founder and director of Main Street Vegan Academy, an in-person program in New York City that trains vegan lifestyle coaches, educators, and entrepreneurs. Founded in 2012, the Academy has over 400 alumni in twenty-nine countries, who are engaged in vegan enterprises ranging from counseling to cooking to cowboy boots.

Featured twice on Oprah and regularly appearing on television and radio, Victoria is an internationally celebrated speaker and host of the award-winning Main Street Vegan podcast. She is also lead producer of A Prayer for Compassion, the 2019 documentary from Student Academy Award winner, Thomas Jackson, that explores the intersection of food choices and spirituality.

She lives with her husband, writer and musician William Melton, their rescue-dog, Forbes, and a handicapped pigeon named Thunder, in a “green” building in New York City.

 

“This class was amazing! I've been vegan for over 3 years and I still learned so much. Mark added so much humor and personality to the experience. Take this class if you want to learn how to make AMAZING food as well as learn about the plant-based lifestyle and its benefits.”

- B.B. VF Student