Chef and HEAT Culinary owner Chef Nikki is a freelance food writer, culinary blogger and cooking instructor with a passion for seasonal local and organic cuisine. Whether developing recipes, teaching cooking classes or catering large events, good food is always on her mind. Raised in an Italian home, Nikki's family kitchen was one of great love and laughter as she learned the value of hard work, wholesome food and good wine.
As an alum of The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY Chef Nikki has cooked worldwide alongside some of your favorite TV Chef Personalities, and has earned the title of Fromager and worked as a Jr. Sommelier while organizing food and wine events for discerning clients. After years working culinary production in many of the country's top restaurants, she decided to pursue her true passion and start her own business for the home cook. Nikki and her team enjoy instructing classes and hosting events for both the individual as well as large corporate groups.
South Coast culinary director
Culinary Director, Kristine Cancio, found her culinary calling during a trip in Napa Valley, California inspired by its wineries and countless culinary offerings. The following year, Chef Kristine moved to her family’s native land, Manila Philippines to attend the top culinary school in the country. Upon graduating at the top of her class, she started working as a chef and chef instructor both in California and Manila, as well as running a culinary program in Orange County.
Her love of food, travel, and teaching encouraged Chef Kristine to create and host her own food/travel show on YouTube called Eats More Fun with Kristine. Her show chronicles her culinary adventures through different cities and regions of the Philippines learning and sharing about the food, culture and history of her Motherland. As she continues to work on her show, Chef Kristine joins Heat Culinary and is thrilled to be a part of her new culinary family.
With over 20 years of experience in illustration, packaging, and graphic design, Heather McGrath is our Creative Director and communications impresario.
Her love of cooking started with a Wilton cake decorating set at age 9. A passion for cooking stayed with her through her life-creating a backyard organic farm, building a wood-fired pizza oven and raising nine chickens.
An avid home cook, she enjoys not only the health benefits of cooking, but the creativity involved as well. She is constantly inspired by HEAT Culinary’s professional chefs and and their tireless efforts to not only educate, but bring people together around the dinner table.
"Basic cooking skills are a virtue... the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill. [It's] as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one's own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.” - Anthony Bourdain
Gretchen believes in creating sustainable ecosystems. Aquaponics and composting are therefore her specific interests. She met Chef Nikki on San Nicholas Island while planting habitat for seabird nesting and night lizard hideaways. They bonded over a passion for this amazing world. Heat C.O.R.E (Compostable, Organic, Raw, Energy) is a logical extension of Heat Culinary. Food waste doesn't have to be waste. The food that is not utilized can be regenerated into alternative food and energy.
Gretchen has degrees in Environmental Horticulture and Economics. She studied aquaponics on the Big Island of Hawaii and now wants to use her horticultural knowledge to innovate the reuse of left over food from local restaurants.
Central Coast Director
Angelica Claudio is a Bay Area native who has relocated to sunny Ventura, California. She is a Cal State, East Bay graduate with a BA in Communications with expertise in Professional, Public, and Organizational settings. She has worked in the service industry since 2008, with jobs ranging from bartending to administrative assistant work. She also has an extensive background in event planning and operations. Her true passion is working with the public to create unique experiences that go above and beyond expectations.