Meet the Team

Marcella Rodriguez is the Director of Culinary Education at Allie’s Place Center for Culinary Education & Employment. She oversees the culinary, baking, and barista education and employment programming at the Center and shares her expertise as a seasoned chef and food service professional. Prior to joining Homes for the Homeless (HFH), she was a Food Operations/Patient Experience Manager with Sodexo Healthcare Services where she focused on exceptional patient experience, innovation, and employee engagement. Marcella obtained her Certificate in Culinary Arts from The New York Restaurant School and spent the first part of her career working in the hospitality industry, including restaurants, country clubs, and hotels throughout Westchester County. She transitioned to healthcare after earning her Associate’s degree in Applied Sciences in Food and Nutrition and is also certified in Patient Experience Leadership as well as Serve Safe and NY State food handlers certified.

Veronica Lindemann is an Assistant Culinary Instructor at Allie’s Place Center for Culinary Education & Employment. A native New Yorker, Veronica has spent the last 18 years as a chef instructor at the French Culinary Institute/International Culinary Center. Veronica, the first female chef to work at the world-renowned Le Cirque restaurant, graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, thinking she would be pursuing a career in fine arts. After college, she took a job at a small restaurant in Queens, New York, and was captivated by the science of food. Veronica spent six years in Catalonia, Spain, where she headed up a hotel kitchen and pursued her passion for painting. Since then, she has worked as a both a corporate and private chef and was a part of the opening team at the Union Square Café. A volunteer at a New York City food distribution center, Veronica joins us with a passion for food, and a heart to serve.

Jayda Gabriel is an Assistant Chef Instructor with a focus on the pastry arts at Allie’s Place Center for Culinary Education & Employment. She teaches pastry workshops from the highly technical like French macaroons and fresh puff pastry to the fun and creative cupcake and ice cream-making workshops. Jayda began her career working at a bakery production facility and then as a pastry chef at Marta’s restaurant, both in NYC. She enjoys challenging recipes—breaking them down into bite sized pieces for her students—and has a keen eye for what is happening in the pastry food world. Jayda received her associate’s degree from Sullivan County Community College.

Amanda Santiago is the Culinary Outreach Coordinator at Allie’s Place Center for Culinary Education & Employment. She oversees the inflow of prospective culinary students and establishes relationships with industry employers to assist in securing positions for graduates of the culinary program. Prior to her role at Homes for the Homeless (HFH), Amanda worked as a Case Worker at a senior center and an Enrollment Specialist on a medical mobile unit that spanned NYC’s five boroughs. When it comes to food, her favorites are Italian and Mexican cuisine. Amanda received a B.A. in Political Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Julissa Barillas is the Culinary Employment Coordinator at Allie’s Place Center for Culinary Education & Employment. She utilizes her prior experience as an Employment Coach at Rescare and Intake Specialist at Fedcap Rehabilitation Services to help graduates of Homes for the Homeless (HFH)’s culinary program secure employment including revising resumes, creating job referrals, and building partnerships with outside organizations. Julissa is passionate about promoting career readiness and making job accessibility available to all. She received her Master’s degree in Public Affairs and Administration as well as her Bachelor’s degree in American Urban Studies at the Metropolitan College of New York.

Jasmin Jimenez is the Gardener at Allie’s Place Center for Culinary Education & Employment where she cultivates the garden, implements a crop rotation system, and teaches students about the herbs, fruits, and vegetables in the garden and how to propagate them. Prior to her role at Homes for the Homeless (HFH), Jasmin managed a chive farm and received farmer training with Square Roots and held hydroponic labs in K-12 schools through New York Sun Works. Jasmin’s extensive training also includes courses on herbalism and experience in aquaponics. Her favorite item to cultivate in the garden at Allie’s Place is the eggplant, and as far as cooking goes, her top option is Japanese Curry as she can infuse the dish with vegetables and herbs from her home garden. Jasmin received a B.A. in Environmental Studies from NYU.

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If you or your client are interested in pursuing a career in the food industry, register for our next, free co-hort.

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