Rooks to Cooks is an innovative cooking school based out of Toronto, Ontario. It was founded by Chef Shai Mandel in 2015 as an extension of her services offered since 2014. Rooks to Cooks was developed to be first and foremost student-centered and flexible. We know that each student is unique with their own learning goals. For this reason, we make sure that any course, class or program offered through Rooks to Cooks accommodates all students and their individual needs. Our mission is simple: we will empower our students to become more independent by building self-confidence and supporting self-expression through teaching food literacy and culinary education.
The programs offered by Rooks to Cooks began with in-home private lessons and have now expanded to include 15+ locations of children’s cooking day camps in the summer, virtual cooking classes and courses, in-home birthday parties, after school programs, school workshops, PA day camps, and March break camps. Since many of our programs are mobile, Rooks to Cooks assures that no matter where you live or how hectic your schedule is, our programs and services will be accessible. We recognize that learning new skills, especially cooking, can be intimidating; that’s why we build our programs to be fun and inviting, as well as intensive. Our programs and services always emphasize themes of healthy eating, and teach our students how to live a fulfilling healthy life. No matter your age or skill level, Rooks to Cooks is your recipe for success! To date Rooks to Cooks has had the privilege of teaching over 7000 children!
Chef Shai & the Origins of Rooks to Cooks
Rooks to Cooks was founded by Chef Shai Mandel, a chef and teacher. Shai has been working in kitchens her whole life, having a passion for food and cooking since childhood. While completing a Kinesiology degree at Wilfrid Laurier University, she would spend her free time working in the culinary industry, dedicated to perfecting her skills. In her 12+ years working as a chef, Shai has worked with some of the most renowned chefs in Canada, especially appreciating the friendship and guidance she received from Jonathan Goodyear, executive chef for Magna Golf Club and finalist of Top Chef Canada, Season 3. Shai has held various positions in all aspects of the industry from pastry and large quantity production, to fine dining. During her career as a chef, Shai had the opportunity to train many people in various positions. It was through this training that she discovered not only her passion for cooking, but her passion for teaching.
Shai attended teachers college at Wilfrid Laurier University, officially becoming an Ontario Certified Teacher in 2015. While working as a student teacher for the Waterloo Region School Board, Shai organized and implemented various cooking after-school programs and events, falling in love with teaching youth how to cook and bake. She held the position of Camp Lead Instructor for a culinary program in Waterloo, where she developed the curriculum and lessons for the school. During this experience, she had the privilege of teaching over 320 kids of all ages the culinary arts. Since then, Shai had a vision of opening her own children’s cooking school in Toronto. This dream became a reality with the birth of Rooks to Cooks.
Founder & CEO Chef Shai Mandel
Bachelor of Kinesiology, Wilfrid Laurier University
Bachelor of Education, Wilfrid Laurier University
Chef Training Certificate, George Brown College