Meet the Chefs

Featured Escoffier Chefs:

Chef Randall Sansom 

Chief Academic Officer and Corporate Executive Chef

Chef Randall has over 20 years of experience as a professional chef, food and beverage director and culinary educator. He brings an innovative and entrepreneurial touch to education through curriculum development, student centered learning and educational technology. Randall holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Management and an Associate’s degree in Culinary Arts from The Art Institutes. Career highlights include positions as Executive Chef and Food & Beverage Director at prestigious country clubs in Texas, designing and opening multiple food service establishments and developing web applications for restaurant inventory and purchasing management. Randall’s experiences have taken him into almost every facet of the culinary industry including hotels, restaurants, country clubs, retirement communities, catering and research and development.

Chef Susie Wolak

Chef Wolak has over thirty years of pastry and baking experience, she brings substantial knowledge to the program. She had been Executive Pastry Chef for the famed Metropolitan Club in Chicago as well as for the Hilton Hotel in Northbrook, Il. Chef Susie also taught classic gateaux work and petit fours class at the college level as the lead pastry chef instructor at a local college. She received her education at the College of DuPage, Glen Ellen, Illinois, at the Chicago Sommelier School, and at the Alliance Française-French Culture and Language.

Chef Thomas Kaltenecker

Chef Kaltenecker started his culinary education at a young age at the Bundeslehranstalten fuer Tourismus, Semmering in Austria, Europe. During his training he traveled extensively through Europe, competed and worked in many segments of the hospitality industry. In 2000, he started teaching culinary arts and hospitality here in the USA. He has taught for Elgin Community College, developed programs and facilities for Robert Morris University and chaired the culinary management program at McHenry County College. Chef Thomas also worked and consults high end restaurants, bakeries and pastry shops. During his professional career, Chef Thomas received his BBA from Northwood University and currently is enrolled in a Master degree program with Capella University; both program online. He is certified by the Illinois Department of Public Health as well as through the International Foodservice Executives Association and the American Hotel, Motel and Lodging Association Educational Institute. Chef Thomas supports sustainable culinary and hospitality management, farm to table movement and the use of local products.

Chef Cesar Herrera

Chef Herrera was introduced into the restaurant industry at a very young age. He began helping out at his dad’s friend’s restaurant, by the time he was in High School he was a line cook at “1776 Restaurant” in Crystal Lake, IL, cooking fine dining American Cuisine. After a few years he became the Sous Chef at “Pub on the Square,” another fine dining restaurant located in Woodstock, IL. After gaining great knowledge, he opened “Genovese’s Café,” an Italian cuisine restaurant, as the Executive Chef in Crystal Lake IL. His next project would be the Executive Chef at “Docks Bar & Grill” located on Bangs Lake in Wauconda, IL. His latest venture would be the opening of a Irish Gastro Pub, “Middleton’s On Main” in Wauconda, IL, which in its first year was recognized as “Best New Restaurant in the Chicago land for 2012” and “Best Restaurant in Lake County” by the Daily Herald. After 25 years of experience as a chef, he would like to help other students achieve their goals through the Escoffier Online Culinary Program.

Chef Michael Zema

Chairman and Professor Emeritus, Elgin Community College Hospitality and Culinary Arts Program.

Chef Zema served as the Program Director and Culinary Professor for 28 years at Elgin Community College (ECC). Chef Zema created the culinary program, developed curriculum, and taught the culinary arts. He was the recipient of the Chicago Tribune Good Eating Award, served as the Academic Ambassador for the National Restaurant Association, received the honorable Doctorate of Food Service from the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM), and was awarded the President’s Medallion from the American Culinary Federation for Outstanding Culinary Education. Chef Zema served as the President of the International Council of Hospitality, Restaurant and Institutional Educators (ICHRIE) and has won numerous medals and awards in professional culinary competitions as the advisor and manager of ECC’s Student Culinary and Management Teams. In addition, Chef Zema designed the state-of-the-art culinary kitchens at ECC. He is a thoroughly experienced culinary and hospitality-industry professional specializing in education, consulting, and entrepreneurial initiatives.

Escoffier Chefs:

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