Founder of Almost Vegan Cooking School

Having fun

When I was a child I organized all the kids in my neighborhood so they could attend my basement step school. I would stand at the top of the stairwell with my easel and lesson plan. The students on my block dangled their legs through the open stair steps. The gray wooden risers above their laps became their writing desk. They peered up and I peered down. It was the world I grew up in full of imagination and fun. My favorite teachers when I was a student, were the story tellers and I fell in love with learning and teaching before I understood what it was.

My background

I became vegan in 2009. Most assumed it would be short lived. What I was cooking became a topic of conversation among friends.  They were curious and I began teaching them how to cook. My enthusiasm for teaching grew into a community kitchen which led to the creation of Almost Vegan Cooking School.

I began this school because I realized people needed a school like this. Yes, it was about the recipes, but a shift was occurring and I became a part of that shift.  Owning a cooking school was not an aspiration.  It happened because I was listening for the first time to a deep and quiet voice. A memory re-kindled within and the cooking school allowed me to use my full imagination. Only this time, as a teacher, I had hopes of changing the world by teaching a new way to cook.

The school grew because of its entertaining concept and quality of food. The school became a vehicle to share information that was not widely known. We were invited to cook and teach annually at VegFest Colorado. The head cardiologist, Dr. Freeman, of National Jewish Hospital, became a cooking student here. He also became a strong advocate for plant-based nutrition and began sharing the research with his patients and encouraging them to attend class here. Cooking invitations were extended to us from far and wide.

My favorite home-cooked meal

My favorite home home-cooked meal is when a student shares something they learned how to make. Last week it was vegan crab cakes and a new twist on minestrone soup.  For me, that’s priceless!

We hired a professional crew to film and produce the cooking introduction series to plant-based foods. To handle our growth and extend our reach, we launched a new website in 2014 to share the enthusiasm that was occurring in my home kitchen.  It still feels extraordinary every day to discover online orders from places as far away as Johannesburg, Bangkok and Dubai.

The practice of becoming vegan captivated me. I began to observe the world in a different way. I felt that the creation of a 21st century cooking school would bring health and goodness into the lives of others. Eating more plants changes the ecology of our planet. Eating more plants reduces suffering. Eating more plants brings an abundance of health into the whole community. It is a story we can tell through the sharing of food. I have found this is a gift for everyone.  I am thankful to be a part of it.  I am honored that you are here and found us online.

My goal is to help build a world-class community kitchen that helps us help one another.

My favorite vegan restaurant

I have only eaten here once, not a fancy place, ordered the green chili breakfast burrito to stuff into my backpack for a day of hiking. I was blown away with deliciousness! Can’t wait to return and re-order it again.

Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Café 1620 St. Michaels Drive, Santa Fe, NM 87505

Business Management

Paul joined Society Optiks in 1969 as a New England States sales representative. Within that first year he was promoted to the position of Northeast Regional Manager and oversaw 12 sales representatives.

In 1973, he accepted an invitation to become National Sales Manager for Society Optiks which included a cross country relocation to Southern California. As a National Sales Manager, he oversaw seven regional managers and travelled all over the world. While he was national sales manager, he wrote and developed training manuals, company projections and sales budgets. He thrived with the full range of responsibilities and experienced early success by exceeding the company goals and objectives. The full-time travel, however, was beginning to affect his young family and personal life and he decided to explore many avenues in his career.

In 1986, Paul joined the Viva International Group as their senior vice president of sales. He thoroughly enjoyed working for Viva and felt a part of their success when the company reached $300,000,000 in sales over a short period of time.

During this time, he met Debbie who also worked at Viva International and eventually married the love of his life.  A few years later Wesley was born.

Paul’s favorite home-cooked meal

Vegan Carnitas

In 1987 Paul and Debbie signed a North American franchise agreement with Second Nature Ltd., a London based greeting card company specializing in a broad range of innovative European cards. They built a new company in North America into a 120-person marketing and sales organization over a ten-year period. Paul then retired in the year 2000.

He became a supporter of Almost Vegan Cooking School when he volunteered to help Debbie, his wife, hand out hundreds of brochures in 2011 offering free vegan cooking classes in their kitchen. He was the treasurer of Almost Vegan Cooking School.

Paul graduated from Northeastern University, Boston MA, in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration.

Paul was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 42.  He was Dr. Alan Feiner’s longest cancer surviver.  Paul died on October 20, 2019 at the age of 72.  He loved to have fun and outlived all rational explanations. 

Paul’s favorite vegan restaurant

Herban Fix Vegan Kitchen 565 Peachtree Street NE Atlanta, GA 30308
Known for their great Sunday Brunch!

Co-founder of The WishList Network

Courtnay has had a life-long interest in health, wellness and education.  Her vegan journey began many years ago and she has enjoyed sharing all she’s learned and experienced with family and friends.  She’s looking forward to sharing it all with a larger community through Almost Vegan Cooking School.  She co-founded and operates a local non-profit organization with her husband David and is involved with other non-profit organizations promoting health and the environment.  She has degrees from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania and Concord Law School.  In addition, she earned a Professional Plant Based Certification from Rouxbe online cooking school and a Plant Based Nutrition certificate from eCornell.  She enjoys applying all she’s learned in the kitchen and in her garden and now also in front of the camera.

Courtnay’s favorite home-cooked meal

Chick Pea of the Sea, a No-Tuna Salad Sandwich

Courtnay’s favorite vegan restaurant

Vital-Root Raw Pop up Dinners (a monthly event) 3915 Tennyson St. Denver, CO 80212

Non-profit Co-founder / Business Consultant / Entrepreneur  

David has spent the last ten years working to improve the lives of people in his local community through the non-profit organization that he co-founded and operates.  He also supports the efforts of other non-profits.  His interest in the health and wellness of his community has led him to live and promote a plant based lifestyle. He continues to educate himself and others on the importance of maintaining a sustainable environment and animal welfare.  He’s excited to participate in the growth of Almost Vegan Cooking School. He’s currently helping to direct the online curriculum and oversees video production and editing.

David’s favorite home-cooked meal

Corn Chowder spiced with Lemon and Sriracha

David’s favorite vegan restaurant

Chocola Tree, 1595 West Hwy 89A Sedona, AZ 86336
“I could eat here every day!”

Music Composer

Wes is a professional composer for a video gaming company and lives in Hollywood, California. Wes provides technical support. He strongly encouraged his mother, by the way, to begin teaching cooking classes online through the YouTube platform. Hopefully, in the future, Wesley will compose a theme song for Almost Vegan’s Cooking School channel. He brings a fresh and youthful perspective to the organization.

During the summer of his senior year in high school Wes transitioned into a vegan lifestyle while composing scores of music for a rigorous auditioning schedule. He noticed, almost immediately, a profound difference both mentally and physically. He cannot imagine eating any other way. He is full of energy and loves the idea that he is eating the highest quality of food with the lowest impact on the planet.

He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Composition at the University of Denver and studied at McGill University in Montreal.

Wesley’s favorite home-cooked meal

Spicy Thai Peanut Noodle Bowl with Asparagus.
Which happens to be a featured recipe in our online Plant Protein Class!

Wesley’s favorite vegan restaurant

Sage Plant-Based Bistro 4130 Sepulveda Blvd. Culver City, CA 90230