Sustainable Cuisine Instructors
Meet the people who shape your future
Faculty Chef Instructor Todd Rymer
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Education: Florida International University, Masters of Science in Hotel and Food Service Management; New College of the University of South Florida, Bachelors of Arts in Religious Studies; Robert Morgan Vocational Technical Institute, Certified in Cooking and Baking.
Work History: Chef Instructor Todd Rymer worked almost 20 years as a cook and chef in numerous restaurants and hotels in Miami. After he earned his Master’s Degree, he became a Chef Instructor for Johnson & Wales University and then moved to Vail as Director of Johnson & Wales University’s Vail Campus in 1995. Four years later, he became director of culinary education at Colorado Mountain College Culinary Institute, Edwards.
Philosophy: Chef Instructor Rymer is passionate about sustainability and pushes students beyond facts and figures. He led the charge in developing the Sustainable Cuisine program and was instrumental in creating the school gardens. Rather than telling people what not to eat or do, he believes solutions to the many problems of our food system can be solved simply by offering delicious alternatives that are healthy for people, the planet and our prosperity.
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Education: Kendall College School of Culinary Arts
Work History: Chef Instructor Smith worked in Chicago’s finest restaurants and hotels before landing in the Vail Valley in 1997. Once here, he developed a passion for pastry and started his own business—Mountain Flour. His primary focus is wedding cakes but Shawn also bakes desserts for many local restaurants and sells ice cream/gelato that is distributed in Colorado, Texas and New Mexico. Shawn has been teaching at CMCCI since 2007.
Philosophy: Any student that takes a class from Chef Instructor Smith will tell you just how great he is! Fun and learning go hand-in-hand in his classroom. Shawn is limitless in his knowledge and has a way helping each and every student connect with the food they are working with.
Hometown: Gypsum, Colorado
Education: University of Colorado Boulder
Colorado Institute of Art
Work History: Chef Instructor Steiner has been working in the food service industry in the Vail Valley for the past 17 years. She has worked many positions from Restaurant Manager to Executive Chef. Currently, she is a purveyor for Northeast Seafood as well as teaching at CMC.
Philosophy: Dani is what students and friends call her. She is the guru of all things restaurant and finds ease in both front of house and back of house restaurant operations. Her strength is helping students realize that customer service is the most important skill in a restaurant. You have no legs to stand on if you can’t maintain healthy relationships with staff, purveyors and customers.
Hometown: East Setauket, New York
Education: Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park
Work History: Chef Instructor Kalaluhi came to Vail from her job as Executive Pastry Chef at The Garden City Hotel. After working at The Lodge at Vail and The Cascade, she struck out on her own and opened Cornerstone Chocolates and Confections. Also of note, she competes yearly in the CASA Gingerbread House Competition and has built a walk-in gingerbread house for kids at The Four Seasons Hotel.
Philosophy: Chef Instructor Kalaluhi is endless. She is industry driven and pushes students to find real-life situations in the classroom environment. She is a craftsman and creator at the highest level and dazzles students with her skills and a few simple ingredients.
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Education: University of Colorado at Denver
Work History: Sandy worked for Valley Gardens and ran her own organic vegetable and duck business before becoming Director of Sowing Seeds. Sowing Seeds is part of the Vail Valley Foundation and educates kids about growing food, the water cycle, soil, composting, nutrition and more. Sandy is in charge of making the CMCCI garden a fabulous place to learn!
Philosophy: Sandy is an anchor in our community. Kids call her “the Garden Lady” and she is fast becoming a household name. (It probably doesn’t hurt that she captured the heart of Celebrity Chef Kelly Liken who works side by side with Sandy to promote community gardening and fundraise for the Sowing Seeds program.) She is a big proponent of pairing up science with fun, games and getting your hands dirty.
Hometown: Steamboat Springs
Education: Johnson and Wales
University of Colorado Boulder
Work History: Heather’s first job was selling chocolates at a mall followed by working in a bakery. Once she discovered the kitchen, there was no going back. After culinary school, she worked for Vail Resorts as Pastry Chef, Sous Chef and Food and Beverage Supervisor. She then purchased and ran her own deli before starting a family and joining CMC.
Philosophy: Heather discovered the meaning of community after owning her own business and having a child. She quickly realized that a true community does not happen to you—you happen to it. To give back, she uses her cooking skills to mentor ProStart students, raise money for culinary scholarships and support Roundup River Ranch. Heather also works to connect CMCCI students to the industry and special events that come through the Vail Valley.