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Meet Our Staff

Heidi Ristau

Heidi is the owner and director of chefschool. She has come a long way from the eight year old girl serving her family hard tack and salt cod from The Little House on the Prairie Cookbook. Having traveled extensively, her culinary views have been shaped by everything from the food stalls of Singapore and spice markets of Morocco, to taco stands in Mexico and the finest restaurants in Paris. With her love of great food and a desire to improve her culinary skills, Heidi went to culinary school intending to become a full time chef. Instead, she fell in love with the cooking school itself and decided to open her own  - to spread the love of food and cooking to others.


Prior to starting chefschool, Heidi was a top operations and marketing professional with over twenty years experience delivering strong and sustainable revenue, market, and profit contributions. Additionally, she explored her passion for cooking through her own event and catering company. Heidi holds an MBA from the University of Southern California and a BA in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Carol Cotner Thompson

Carol Cotner Thompson has been cooking professionally for over thirty years. Since graduating from the California Culinary Academy’s professional cooking and pastry programs in 1985, she has cooked in many notable restaurants and developed a substantial resume as a pastry chef, private chef, consultant, food stylist, caterer, blogger, on-camera chef, recipe developer and marketing consultant for print and on-camera productions. For the past twenty-four years, she has taught at the Epicurean School of Culinary Arts, L’Academie de Cuisine, the New School of Cooking and most recently The Gourmandise School.


Carol’s love of travel takes her once a year, as guest chef, to Raison d’art Retreats in Catalonia, Spain In addition, she co-owns an all-inclusive culinary travel business

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