Meet the Instructors
Chef Elaina Ravo, C.C.C.
Chef Elaina Ravo,CCC is the Director of Liaison College Kitchener Campus as well as one of the Chef Instructors. For 16 years, she made a reputation for herself as the Executive Chef and owner of Mediterranean Mermaid Catering in Hamilton. However, Elaina has a long standing relationship with Liaison College as she was a Chef Instructor at the Hamilton Campus for 5 years, as well as the Catering Chef.
In 2003 Chef Elaina was awarded the Certified Chef De Cuisine** status (Canada’s highest and most prestigious culinary designation) by the Canadian Culinary Federation.
Elaina is proud to be able to serve in the community, and share her passion, knowledge and skills with her students. Her students will certainly benefit from her many years as a Chef Instructor, and diverse background in international cuisine.
Her hobbies include furthering her expertise by taking professional culinary courses, reading, and traveling to seek new food adventures and cultures to share with her students.
Chef Dean Michielsen
Working with food has been a life long pleasure for Dean Michielsen. His childhood appreciation for food led to an apprenticeship in Niagara-on-the-Lake when he was a youth. Since then Chef Dean has been working toward his goal of becoming a Certified Executive Chef**.
A graduate of George Brown, Chef Dean has worked at some of the most prestigious hotels and restaurants in Canada, including the Ritz Carlton Montreal, Banff Springs and Chateau Lake Louise. He was Executive Chef at Arrowhon Pines (formerly a member of the esteemed Relais and Chateaux) in Algonquin Park and at Whistlebear Golf Course in Cambridge. He was also co-owner of a very successful restaurant in Sault Ste Marie.
Asked what drives him, he says simply that he “just loves food, loves the business.” But those who know him say it’s the thrill of making something from nothing. Chef Dean is a perfectionist driven to impress his guests by creating something beautiful with food that blows them away! “Being a chef is an art where you learn something new every day.”
Sharing knowledge is also important to Chef Dean. Sharing is being generous in spirit and action and practicing "we over me."
To Chef Dean, hospitality is being genuinely warm and welcoming and tending to the comfort and well being of others.
His emphasis remains on quality in the people he works with and in the food he serves. Quality is building pride into everything we do, consistently meeting all and setting new standards, attending to every detail, and constantly improving.
Chef Dean has been teaching at Liaison College of Culinary Arts in Kitchener, as an Instructor for over ten years. He continues to consult with new and existing restaurants while building his professional career. He has also been involved in Skills Ontario as a Judge and Mentor for over ten years.
** The Certified Chef de Cuisine designation is the highest professional culinary recognition and accreditation in Canada. It represents the culmination of the highest standards of managerial and administrative responsibilities, culinary skills and dedication to the cooking profession.
Chef Nicole Puffer
I have always had a passion for food but it really started to take shape at the age of 13 when I cooked my first Christmas dinner. It was love at first meal. By the age of 19 I was preparing and hosting 3 course dinner parties for my friends. Once married, I began to read my husband’s grandmothers cook books; this is where I really started to learn about the art of making food from scratch. When my son was born I delved deeper into understanding food labels and making everything from scratch due to the severe health issues that he faced.
After some time my family members started asking me to prepare meals that they could take home at the end of a busy day and preparing dinner parties for their friends. Somehow the word got out and I found myself catering my first wedding 8 months pregnant with my 3rd child. I couldn’t keep away from food any longer and it was time to get my formal training. I wanted to start my own personal chef business in order to help families with the stress that comes with meal time preparation. It was finally time to leave the corporate world and enter into the culinary one.
Finally, I enrolled at Liaison College of Culinary Arts in Kitchener in the Specialist Chef Diploma Program where I was able to hone my skills and prepare myself for the industry. I was provided the opportunity to utilize my chef training as well as my background in administration to bring my business idea to fruition. Finally, Meals Without Madness was born. My deep desire to assist families with their meal time stress was no longer just an idea and a passion, it was becoming my reality. Today, 5 years later, I am still the proud owner operator of Meals Without Madness and I could not be happier.
Today, along with my Personal Chef clients, I am filling my days with a variety of business opportunities from Catering corporate events to teaching children and adult cooking classes as well as working with a Flanagan foods, a local food distributor, showcasing their products at Bistro’s and Food shows. My newest project will take me into the world of food manufacturing where I hope to learn how to bottle and distribute my own sauces.
I am also currently sharing my experiences and knowledge with the students at Liaison College as the Personal Chef Instructor so that they can follow their own dreams and successfully undertake their own business ideas. I believe in starting on the right foot and avoiding the many pitfalls and I hope to share this with as many future Chef Owners as possible.
Chef Darryl Howie
It all began in grade 6 when I knew I had an affinity for food, I was sure that food was going to be a large part of the rest of my life. My love of cooking flourished with the culinary programs offered at my High School where I was able to specialize in baking for 3 years. Pastry arts came naturally to me as I began to hone my skills, and gain experience in the culinary world by working at YMCA camps over the summer months. My journey had begun.
Soon after graduation, I started my apprenticeship at Talisman Mountain Resort in Kimberley, ON and then moved to Krebs/Ali Baba Restaurant. Knowing that this was my career choice, I enrolled at George Brown and completed my Cook Level 1. I continued my apprenticeship at Charlies and at Janet Lynn’s where I was able to finish the required apprentice hours. My love and ability for creating stocks and sauces had grown tremendously by this point and I was the designated Saucier at each of these establishments. Upon leaving Janet Lynn’s I enrolled once again at George Brown and completed my Cook Level 2. It was not until I finally received my Red Seal in May of 1990 that I considered myself a Chef, a title that I hold proudly to this day.
Over the span of the next two decades I worked in a number of establishments including my return to Krebs/Ali Baba as Sous Chef, Charlies as Head Chef, the Bismark Pub as Chef, and once again Krebs/Ali Baba this time as Executive Chef. I also worked for some time at Aberfoyle Mill as line cook/saucier, Pinestone Resort as Head chef, Del Dentes as Chef followed by Charcoals as Head Chef. I worked after this at Mohawk Racetrack for 2 years as Sous Chef and the Walper Hotel as the Executive Chef for 4 year. With all this experience under my belt I was ready for the next step, ownership. I owned the Rum Runner Pub in the Walper Hotel until a change of ownership forced me to move on.
Each of these experiences allowed me to grow as a Chef and also as a teacher because I was given on multiple occasions the opportunity to mentor numerous apprentices. I learned of myself that I love teaching the art of cooking to anyone that wants to learn and the opportunity to do so with the next generation of Chef’s and Cooks became a part of my passion. This translated nicely into the next chapter of my life where I was given the chance to teach full time at Liaison College of Culinary Arts in Kitchener while a fellow Chef was on Medical leave, and, still now, as the Head Chef for the Culinary Boot Camps offered by the College.
Today, I am successfully running my own restaurant, Darlise Café in Kitchener, ON, it is a breakfast and lunch restaurant that creates every menu item from scratch using nothing but the best and freshest ingredients available. The Café also works with St. Matthew’s Church in Kitchener to provide a low cost lunch for Seniors three days a week during the Fall/Winter/Spring seasons. Darlise Café provides allows me to wake up every day and follow my dream, but it also allows me to continue to provide mentorship to apprentices in my own kitchen. I still pride myself on the opportunity to nurture students into becoming the type of cook they want to be in the kitchen with a hands on approach and a teaching style that give them all the tools they need to be successful on their journey.