Chef JD Thomas


Chef J.D. Thomas, grew up in San Diego in a family that appreciated good food. He was exposed to a wide array of cuisines at a young age and wholeheartedly participated in the cooking for family and friends during his early years. Many travels drew Chef Thomas into the world of flavor and cuisine.

Chef Thomas has worked in restaurants since the age of 14. After developing his family’s restaurants in Seattle, he was awarded a 3-star rating from Seattle’s Travel Magazine “Places Rated Northwest” for his flavorful South-American food. Leaving the restaurants behind in 1988, he attended culinary school in Portland. He earned the Valedictorian Award of his class at Western Culinary Institute while also working as a Private Chef for the Archdiocese of Portland and Louisiana Pacific Corporation. From there, Chef Thomas worked in R&D for a 30 million dollar, fresh-food manufacturing company, an Executive Chef for catering outlets, and also as a private Chef.

​He also brought his sense of humor and knowledge of culinary history to radio for over five years and has been a Culinary Educator for over 16 years. He is a proud member of the Chef’s de Cuisine Society of Oregon and was elected American Culinary Federation’s “Chef of the Year” in 2011 for the Northwest Chapter. Chef Thomas is currently Lead Instructor, Culinary Events Director, and Manager of Northwest Culinary Institute in Vancouver, WA.




Meet Chef Greg, a culinary artist with a deep rooted philosophy that celebrates the simplicity and authenticity of ingredients. He’s a master at letting the flavors speak for themselves while adding a touch of culinary intrigue to every dish.

Greg‘s culinary journey began with stents and some of the finest kitchens across the United States. He honed his skills in the bustling food scene of Chicago, working alongside culinary legends like Charlie Trotter and later brought his talent to the vibrant city of Portland Oregon, where he continued to refine his craft.

In 2003, Greg made a significant move to join the culinary family at the Noble Rot in Portland, Oregon. His passion and dedication quickly earned him a place in the hearts of both staff and patrons. When Leather stores, the founding chef departed to launch a new venture, Greg stepped up to take on the role of executive chef.

Greg’s wanderlust led him to leave the Noble Rot temporarily in 2008 embarking on a journey of travel and self discovery. However he couldn’t resist the magnetic pole of the Pacific Northwest and Noble Rot returning in 2009 for another stint during his hiatus from the restaurant, he found love, built a family and established himself as the executive chef at Grain and Gristle. His tenure at Grain and Gristle brought him numerous accolades, solidifying his place on the culinary map.

In August 2019, the prodigal Chef returned home to the Noble Rot again as Executive Chef. His culinary prowess, combined with his deep understanding of ingredients as well as local connection, continued to be a driving force behind the restaurant’s culinary excellence.

Greg’s culinary journey reached a broader audience when he appeared on the popular show “Chopped” which aired on September 10, 2019. Showcasing is culinary artistry and innovative thinking. He also has traveled internationally to represent the bounty of ingredients from the Pacific Northwest with WUSATA, the Western United States of America trade Association.

Chef Greg’s dedication to the art of food, his love for quality ingredients and his willingness to embrace the unexpected make him a true culinary maverick. His dishes are a testament to his philosophy of letting the ingredient shine while creating memorable dining experience for all who have the privilege of savoring his creation .

On the personal side, Greg is a devoted husband and father of two boys. He has a passion for growing heirloom tomatoes, coaching his son’s little league teams and is also a winter sports enthusiast.



Hailing from the culturally rich tapestry of New Orleans, Chef Ash Banning’s journey as an accomplished Chef and culinary mentor has been shaped by a passion for exploring diverse flavors, traditions, and cultural influences. With a background as a private chef and a history of traveling, Chef Banning has cultivated a deep appreciation for global cuisines and a thirst for knowledge that continues to drive her culinary pursuits.

Some of her greatest joys in mentoring aspiring chefs is sharing the historical significance, and science behind food. Drawing inspiration from her experiences and travels, she strives to impart not only culinary techniques but also the stories and meanings behind each dish. By weaving together, the narrative of food with its scientific principles, she provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the Arts.

She infuses her teachings with a spirit of curiosity, creativity, and exploration. As a foundation for students to grow from, she is committed to nurturing their talents, empowering them to embrace diversity, and encouraging them to push the boundaries of their craft.
As a Culinary Mentor in France, she utilized her passion for culinary history and its significance to create an engaging and informative learning environment. By delving into the origins of ingredients, exploring the cultural influences on cuisine, and uncovering the scientific processes that transform food, she inspires students to see cooking as both an art and a science.

With a dedication to lifelong learning and a commitment to fostering excellence, she strives to instill in students a love for continuous growth and self-improvement. A culinary professional who values knowledge, creativity, and compassion. Her mission here is to build a supportive community of chefs, and collaboratively guide the next generation of culinary talent towards success and fulfillment in their endeavors.


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