Class of 2018


KIRSTEN HUGHES-BAILEY of DeTour Village, Michigan, has many talents and interests, and thus loves to seek new challenges.  She is married, with three married children and an adopted 10-year old son.  She had a licensed daycare for 16 years, then went into emergency medical services and phlebotomy for 10 years.  She loves photography, crafting, chickens…and particularly baking and coffee, the reasons for her desire to open a coffee and wine shop, offering luncheon and desserts.  When she read LCCS’s syllabus, she knew the school was ideal for making her dream a reality.


ETHAN BARNETT of Carmel, Indiana, through accelerated classes, graduated from high school three years in advance.  He went on to take online college courses over the last several years in categories such as calculus, astrobiology, and biotechnology, while searching for his ultimate career, which he has determined is as an executive chef.  He’s happiest being in the kitchen and trying new techniques, and he regards food as art.  He looked at many culinary schools but found LCCS to be “a special place because of its small class and loving, family atmosphere.”

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CIARRA BIRMAN is from Stanton, Michigan. After three years of music education at Central Michigan University, playing various instruments (her favorite is the tuba), Ciarra is expanding her artistic nature by turning her deep passion for cooking into a career. She started prepping in the LCCS Restaurant kitchen last May, working full-time throughout the summer as a testimonial to her commitment.  She is impressed with the school’s hands-on approach. She believes that using the freshest ingredients with minimal waste is critical to being a great chef.  Her goal is to have her own restaurant. 

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ZACH CLAXTON is from Cedarville, Michigan. A primary desire of LCCS founders was to provide a unique vocational opportunity for local persons that would enrich and sustain their lives and future.   Zach is our perfect role model!  After graduating from Cedarville High School, he spent his summer working in the restaurant kitchen before entering the LCCS program.  His words: “I enjoy cooking and I feel this is a BIG opportunity.”  He had the leading role in the final production of school year’s Les Cheneaux Community Schools Theater Program, and carried it off with aplomb…just as is required of any chef worth his salt!  (pun intended).  As another neat side note, Zach is a graduate of the National K9 Academy as a certified dog trainer.   

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ALEXIS GREEN of Bay City, Michigan, graduated from John Glenn High School last June.  Over the last two years, she also attended the Bay-Arenac Career Center as a culinary arts student, and attained ServSafe certification.  Having played alto saxophone since 6th grade, her band teacher wrote a testimonial to not only her strengths as a musician but her dedication to teamwork.  She was drawn to LCCS because of its farm-to-table program and small school setting. She wants to learn different methods of cooking such as canning and pickling.  She sees herself opening a bakery one day.    


BRIANA KREIGER is from Royal Oak, Michigan. After completing homeschooling in 2014, she continued her education at Oakland Community College earning a 4.0 GPA in Math, English, and Economics classes as well as ServSafe certification, while working in bakeries, catering, and at Mirepoix Cooking School as lead food expeditor.  She saw the LCCS episode on Under the Radar Michigan, prompting her to visit us.  “I immediately became excited about the small class and hands-on experiences being offered.”  She had great respect for the chefs at Mirepoix, who in turn were the ones to encourage her to attend LCCS. 


EZEKIEL (ZEKE) LEE of Gulliver, Michigan, graduated from Jack Reque Alternative High School this past June.  Although he has had no direct experience in culinary arts, he loves “cooking everything and anything”.  Being a Yooper, it is no surprise that he also loves hunting, fishing, and riding fourwheelers!  His teachers’ reference letters describe his eagerness to help others and what a pleasure it was to have him in class with his positive attitude and ready smile.  Zeke spends every weekend working at the Jolly Inn in Germfask, Michigan, a good two-hour drive each way.  He is determined to support himself as a successful chef, and looks forward to the challenge. 

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HALLE MacLEOD, originally from Temperance, Michigan, graduated from Mukwonago High School in Wisconsin this past year.  Two of her teachers attested to her strong work ethic, team spirit, and impressive creativity, as well as her passion for cooking and baking.   This fits her desire to work as a chef in a high-profile restaurant before starting her own restaurant.  She learned about LCCS through her grandmother, who highly recommended the school because she has dined here.  She loves that it is small and hands-on.    

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NICHOLAS (NIK) ROSSI  is from Fraser, Michigan.  Originally from Detroit, he graduated from Fraser High School, where he had his first experience in culinary arts education.  He then attended Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio, and Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan.  His deep passion for a career in the culinary world is reflected in his reference letters from respected executive chefs he has worked and studied under.  A fun side note is that he has played club and collegiate soccer, enjoys photography, reading, working out, and loves being creative.  

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IAN STALKER of New Hudson, Michigan, started working in the food industry well before graduating from Milford High School in 2015, spending three years at McDonalds.  He wanted to learn how to cook professionally, and LCCS’s small class/hands-on/farm-to-table concept suits him perfectly. “My cooking has made people happy.  I love using fresh ingredients and local sourcing.  I have raised chickens and quail, helped with the family garden, and we owned a cow-share…her name was Rachel.  Great milk! Nothing beats fresh!  I heard about LCCS through the local co-op farm my mom works with.  I have been to Les Cheneaux before and it is beautiful!” 

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KIRK THATCHER is from Gladwin, Michigan.  After completing high school in Sterling Heights, Michigan, Kirk studied to be a Harley-Davidson technician then went on to work for Ford Motor Company.  He could never escape his interest in culinary styles and love of food, thus in looking for a career change he started researching Michigan culinary schools.  When he saw a TV program about LCCS, he decided to visit and was immediately impressed with its farm-to-table approach and community feel.  Loving hunting, fishing, playing pool and riding motorcycles, there is no question that he fits right in! 


Class of 2017

Meet student chef Sandy Bergstrom! Sandy was born and raised in Barbeau, Michigan. Sandy took many of the Ad Hoc classes at our school and really enjoyed them, which inspired her to become a student of the Les Cheneaux Culinary School. Sandy’s culinary background comes from her preparing and cooking meals for her family for over 50 years! She is interested in baking breads and sweets, and upon graduation, she hopes to teach culinary classes! We wish you all the best, Sandy, and are so happy you have joined us! 



Meet student chef Spencer Hoffmann! Spencer was born and raised in Marshall, Michigan, and his family has always summered in St. Ignace. He was inspired to apply to the Les Cheneaux Culinary School after coming across LCCS in the later part of summer 2015, when he fell in love with the setting. He knew what Chef Instructor Zach had to offer as a teacher/and chef mentor, and he really respected the school’s support of sustainable practices in the culinary world. Spencer also loved the idea of a smaller, more intimate class size. Spencer was a house cook for his student housing cooperative in college at Michigan State University. After culinary school, Spencer hopes to use the skills and knowledge gained in an entrepreneur fashion, whether as a private caterer, personal chef, or business owner.


Meet student chef Brandon Lee! Born in Indiana, Brandon grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. Brandon has been coming to Northern Michigan for the past few years to visit his mother in De Tour Village. He has always planned on attending culinary school, but selected Les Cheneaux Culinary School because of its hands-on vocational school approach, the proximity to family, and the natural beauty of the Les Cheneaux Islands area. Brandon has a vast culinary background; he started cooking when he was 5 years old, and has had many jobs in restaurants over the years, as well as owning his own custom butcher and catering business. Brandon is particularly interested in fusion cuisine, using classical and modern techniques to fuse cultures and culinary traditions. Brandon’s ultimate goal is to eventually build a food truck and travel south in the winter and north in the summer. We are so excited you have joined us, Brandon, and can’t wait to see where the culinary industry takes you!


Meet student chef T.J. Lee! T.J. has spent the majority of his life living in the Les Cheneaux Islands area, and has worked at the Les Cheneaux Culinary School since the restaurant’s first summer of operation. The school and restaurant chefs and instructors are the major influential factors that helped him make his decision to pursue culinary school. T.J. is fascinated by the vast amount of techniques and methods to be learned and all the new things he will continue to learn over the course of his career. T.J.’s goal after culinary school is to continue to learn and hone his skills, and he aspires to be like one of the chefs that inspired him to pursue culinary school. We are so happy to have you as a student, T.J., and love your open mind to learning new things on your culinary journey! We wish you all the best! 


Meet student chef Marcy Misner! Marcy has lived all over the Midwest, living sometime in Florida and Tennessee, as well as 11 years in Sault Ste. Marie. Marcy was formerly a journalist for the Sault Evening News, where she covered the Les Cheneaux Culinary School’s earliest fundraising efforts; this experience first inspired Marcy to attend our school. Learning of Zach’s dedication to his students’ success, seeing the community’s support of the school, the school’s 100% job placement of graduates solidified Marcy’s decision to apply. She has confidence in the road ahead with the education she is receiving. Marcy comes to us with some culinary background: she has been involved with the local foods movements in the eastern Upper Peninsula, including the Sault Ste. Marie Farmers’ Market, The Eastern Upper Peninsula Food Hub, and Foodie Flocking, which is an informal group of food enthusiasts. She also incorporated food into lessons while working at J.K.L. Bahweting School and as a mother to 3 beautiful children. Marcy is specifically interested in cooking savory dishes using garden and farm-fresh ingredients. One of her favorite things to do is to walk cold into a friend’s kitchen and prepare a meal using the ingredients she finds. After culinary school, Marcy plans to cook privately, author cookbooks, and teach. We are so happy to have you with us Marcy, and are excited to watch you grow as a chef!


Meet student chef Aaron Norton! Aaron has lived all over the world, including Brussels, Guatemala, Texas, Puerto Rico, and some time in Michigan. His grandmother read an article about the Les Cheneaux Culinary School in a Northern Michigan Newspaper and told his father about it, and considering they vacation in the Upper Peninsula, they thought that it would be a very good opportunity for Aaron. He really loves the small class size, and the hands-on mentality of our school, and that was his biggest inspiration to attend. Aaron’s culinary background stems from always cooking with his parents and from eating all over the world. He loves to cook food and make people happy through his dishes! After culinary school, Aaron may further his education at the CIA in Texas and join the Coast Guard. 


Meet student chef James “Levi” Rogers! Levi was born and raised in Brevort, Michigan. Last winter he sold Jerusalem Artichokes at the Les Cheneaux Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market, where he met Executive Director Zach Schroeder, and graduate Dominic Angelosante, who both encouraged him to apply and inspired him to attend. Growing up, Levi always helped his mother and grandmother in the kitchen, which gave him the culinary background he has now. Levi particularly enjoys incorporating beer and wines into the dishes he is creating. After culinary school, he plans to further his education by taking classes in brewing and computer engineering. We are so happy you have joined us this school year, Levi, and cannot wait to see where your culinary education takes you! 

Class of 2016


Meet the Les Cheneaux Culinary School’s class of 2016 graduate Dominic Angelosante! Dom was born in Royal Oak, Michigan and grew up in Hartland. He was born into a family of passionate and successful restaurateurs. He began his culinary career at the age of 13 as a pantry cook at the Appeteaser in Milford. After high school, he moved to Dallas, Texas and worked as a baker at Central Market and at Eatzi's Market and Bakery. He then moved back to his home state of Michigan and became a bread baker at the iconic Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor. Later, be became an events chef at Cornman Farms, an event venue owned by the Zingerman's Corporation. This was his most recent position before enrolling with us here at the Les Cheneaux Culinary School. Dom is most interested in biodynamic farming and bread and pastry baking. Dom recently began a position as a personal chef on Drummond Island. We wish you all the best in your culinary pursuits, Dominic!


Les Cheneaux Culinary School class of 2016 graduate Joel Carpenter came to us from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where he was born and raised. He found his passion for cooking at the young age of 13 when he worked at the Sault Country Club. Since then he has worked at Egypt Valley Country Club, Flanagan’s in Grand Rapids, and was the head cook at Shamrock in Grand Rapids. Joel is now the Executive Chef and General Manager at Studebakers in Sault Ste. Marie, which is pursuing a transition into becoming a farm-to-table restaurant. Joel's culinary passions are Italian cuisine and sauce-making. We wish you all the best in your future, Joel!


Meet Jim Ison, graduate of the Les Cheneaux Culinary School’s class of 2016! Jim was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and worked at the Antlers Restaurant in the Soo for six years and also spent two years as a chef at the Coast Guard Base. He decided to attend the Les Cheneaux Culinary School with hopes of landing a more solid career with a consistent income to start a life for himself.  Jim's favorite aspect of restaurant life is the opportunity to work with so many unique individuals of various cultures and walks of life. He also loves working as part of a team and finds the fast-paced, intense environment thrilling. We wish you well, Jim; good luck in all you do!


Meet Eric Smith, graduate of the Les Cheneaux Culinary School class of 2016. Eric was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He started in the restaurant industry at the age of 15 as a server, and then started cooking with the guys at his mother's firehouse preparing family meals for the staff. He then started working at Gastro's Pub in the iconic Wrigleyville area of Chicago. Later, he went on to work at Deuces and Diamonds, Casey Moran's, and O'Donovan's. After some time, he worked his way up to becoming a sous-chef at higher end restaurants like Rose Buds and Chicago's Chop House. Eric was then offered a job in the Upper Peninsula as a butcher's assistant and managing a deli making subs and hot lunches. He moved up north to explore where his family was from and immediately fell in love! Eric recently became a father to a baby girl, Zoey, and he cannot wait to cook for her as she grows up. We wish you well in all your life pursuits, Eric!

Class of 2015


Carie Birkmeier

Hometown: Delphos, OH

Concentration: Dietary Restrictions & Preferences

Favorite Ingredient: Sriracha & Pork Fat. 

Culinary Aspirations: Private chef / business owner


Sean Hammond

Hometown: Harbor Springs, MI

Concentration: Fermentation

Favorite Ingredient: Chile Peppers

Culinary Aspirations: Catering Chef


Katie Keller

Hometown: Pickford, MI

Concentration: Pastry 

Favorite Ingredient: Vanilla Bean

Culinary Aspirations: Pastry Chef


Morgan McLeod

Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Concentration: Mexican Cuisine 

Favorite Ingredient: Salt

Culinary Aspirations: Food Truck Owner


Matthew Nelson

Hometown: Newberry, MI

Concentration: Classic French & German Cuisine

Favorite Ingredient: Fish Sauce

Culinary Aspirations: Restaurant Chef/Owner


Tina Nye

Hometown: Hessel, MI

Concentration: Comfort Food

Favorite Ingredient: Garlic

Culinary Aspirations: Chef de Cuisine


Dave Scheffler

Hometown: Pickford, MI

Concentration: Italian Cuisine

Favorite Ingredient: Love

Culinary Aspirations: Personal Trainer/ Chef