Q&A Webinar
Panelists' Biographies
April 14th, 2011 2:30 -3:30pm EST

Sam Kass
White House Assistant Chef and Senior Policy Advisor

Janey Thornton



Sam Kass serves as Assistant Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives at the White House. A Chicago native, Sam graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in U.S. History. During college, he took a job cooking at the restaurant 312 Chicago under Chef Dean Zanella, an experience that set him on his current path. While finishing his final college year abroad Sam was trained as a chef by one of Austria's greatest chefs, Chef Christian Domschitz in Vienna.

In 2009, Sam joined the White House Kitchen staff under Executive Chef Cris Comerford's leadership as Assistant Chef and, in 2010, became a Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives. In this role, he advises the Let's Move! initiative on food policy issues and overall program strategy.

Sam has had a long interest in sustainable and nutritious ingredients and helped First Lady Michelle Obama create the first major vegetable garden at the White House since the 1890’s. To date, the garden has yielded nearly 2,000 pounds of produce that has been used to feed event guests, staff and the First Family at the White House, with further harvests donated to local food shelters.

Janey Thornton, PhD
USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNCS)
Janey Thornton   Dr. Janey Thornton was appointed by President Barack Obama as USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services on April 1, 2009. In this position, Dr. Thornton is responsible for improving the health and well-being of Americans by developing and promoting science-based dietary guidance and administering USDA's 15 nutrition assistance programs.

Prior to joining USDA, Dr. Thornton served as President of the School Nutrition Association during the 2006-2007 school year. She has also previously served as School Nutrition Director for Hardin County Schools in Elizabethtown, Kentucky for over twenty-five years, during which time the district doubled in size to over 15,000 students.

Garrett Berdan, RD
Nutrition and Culinary Educator and Consultant
Chef Volunteer at the Bend LaPine School District, Bend, Oregon
Garrett Berdan   Chef Garrett Berdan is an independent nutrition and culinary educator and consultant, and is passionate about tasty, nutritious food. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, where he received the Award for Culinary Achievement. Garrett has lent his expertise in hospitals, food television production, retail grocery, commodity marketing, culinary schools, and child nutrition programs. He is a member of the American Dietetic Association, Food and Culinary Professionals, School Nutrition Association, and the Oregon Dietetic Association. As part of the Chefs Move to Schools Program, he has volunteered his time with several schools in the Bend LaPine School District in Bend, Oregon.
Katrina Wiest
Wellness Specialist, Bend LaPine Schools Nutrition Services in Bend, Oregon
Katrina Wiest   Katrina Wiest is the Wellness Specialist for Bend LaPine School District in Bend, Oregon. During the school year, she coordinates the Farm to School program, oversees recipe and menu development, nutrient analysis, safety and sanitation, and the health and wellness program. She is a certified ServSafe Food Safety Instructor. She is a board member of the local county Public Health Advisory Board and sits on various committees at the state and local levels, focusing on physical activity and nutrition. She is President of Oregon School Nutrition Association Administrators Chapter. Katrina has a Bachelors of Science degree in Foods and Nutrition from Oregon State University. As part of the Chefs Move to Schools Program, Katrina has enlisted the help of a volunteer chef at several schools in the Bend LaPine School District.

Carlin Breinig
Owner, Home Cooking Personal Chef Service
Chef Volunteer at Autrey Mill Middle School, Johns Creek, Georgia
Carlin Breinig  

Carlin Breinig started Home Cooking Personal Chef Service in 1998 after leaving the corporate world of project management in a software development company. She provides meals to people who are too busy to cook, who have health issues such as weight loss, allergies, diabetes and to people who want to eat better.

Carlin has been a Chef Instructor at The Cook's Warehouse in Atlanta for over 10 years. She specializes in children's cooking classes beginning with age 3. There are monthly classes, special spring break programs and summer cooking camps. Carlin is a member is Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, International Association of Culinary Professionals, and Personal Chefs Cooperative.

As part of the Chefs Move to Schools Program, Carlin has volunteered her time at Autrey Mill Middle School in Johns Creek, Georgia.

Timothy Cipriano
Chef and Executive Director of Food Services for New Haven Public Schools, New Haven, Connecticut.
Timothy Cipriano   Chef Timothy Cipriano is Executive Director of Food Services for the New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) in Connecticut. One of Chef Cipriano's most valuable achievements to date has been introducing more local produce into the school meals program and working to educate New Haven's urban students about fresh, healthy and great tasting food choices; this effort led for him to receive the moniker, "Local Food Dude", from a fellow Chef. NHPS has 46 schools with roughly 20,000 students. Chef Cipriano has over 20 years of culinary experience having worked in school food service for the last 6 years and at several restaurants in the Northeast.
Kern Halls
Area Manager of Food and Nutrition Services for Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida.
Kern Hall   As an Area Manager for Orange County Public Schools' Food and Nutrition Services, Kern oversees and creates secondary menus, carts, culinary training, retail sales and new product development. He has previously served in the United States Navy as a culinary specialist for over eight years. He was also nominated to work at the White House while in the Navy. Kern left the Navy and joined Disney. After four years of managing $18M in sales at Disney restaurants, Kern wanted to put his skills to work in the public sector. His ability to grow sales came with him to Orange County Public Schools' Food and Nutrition Services. Lead by Kern, with the help of the Food and Nutrition Services team, high school sales grew an outstanding 46% from 2007 to 2010. Kern holds a BS degree in marketing and business management.