Meet the Staff

Jesse Blonder

Managing Director, Co-Founder, and Owner

The History of The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts

Jesse was born and raised in the Manhattan Beach section of Brooklyn, NY. He graduated from Cornell University in 2003 and realized very soon thereafter that a career in the food business just might be a good fit. Working at culinary schools, restaurants, and with caterers, Jesse developed his cooking skills and culinary knowledge to the point of becoming a promising young cook. Four years ago, with his heart set on finding a cook’s position in one of NYC’s finest restaurants, Jesse was searching on craigslist for a job when he stumbled upon a listing for director of a kosher cooking school in Brooklyn. Being Jewish and from Brooklyn and pursuing a career in culinary arts, Jesse was Intrigued. After hesitating momentarily, Jesse made a split second decision to respond to the ad. The school turned out to be Happy Home Housewares, a popular kitchenware and gift shop in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. The owners of Happy Home, Elka and Baruch Pinson, had renovated the space upstairs from the store and were looking to offer a more robust schedule of cooking classes than the Wilton cake decorating and occasional challah baking classes that they had been doing for years. Having previously worked his way up from unpaid apprentice to dishwasher to kitchen manager at The New School’s culinary school in Manhattan, Jesse was very familiar with culinary education and confident that if done professionally, a kosher cooking school could succeed. It turns out that he was right!

Today, The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts is at the center of a growing network of aspiring and working professional chefs, bakers, restauranteurs, and other culinary entrepreneurs and enthusiasts from all over the world. Jesse is proud to have been the main driving force behind such a unique endeavor and looks forward to guiding CKCA well in to an accomplished future.

Elka and Baruch Pinson

CKCA Co-Founders and Owners

Longtime residents of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY, Baruch and Elka Pinson are the owners of Happy Home Houswares and co-founders of CKCA. By hashgocha protis (ie “coincidence) Baruch’s father raised turkeys in Israel and Elka’s Dad was in the poultry business here in the US. No surprise then that they eventually landed in the culinary field.

Rabbi Baruch Pinson is the main proprietor of Happy Home, the beloved kitchen and housewares store downstairs from CKCA. His parents were among the founding settlers or Kfar Chabad, Israel, where he was born. Baruch, who first came to the US as a rabbinical student, has been in the housewares business since yeshiva. Visitors to the school know Baruch as the friendly face they see upon entering the store on their way up to the school.

Dr. Elka nee Jacobs, born in Brooklyn, is co-Founder of CKCA and assists in business development. Among her many complementary roles, she is also psychologist with a private practice, is involved in community projects including shidduchim, dabbles in computer graphics and loves needle pointing.
Baruch and Elka are the parents of eight. Sons Ari and Eli Pinson are the founders of EHappyHome.com. All of the Pinson kids have worked in the store and are very comfortable in the kitchen – whether cooking or eating!

Chef Avram Wiseman

Dean of Student Affairs / Head Culinary Instructor

Chef Avram Wiseman is a highly experienced professional chef and culinary educator. Early in his career, he held an astonishingly diverse number of positions in a wide array of settings—Banquet chef at the Tan a Tar Marriot, Missouri, Chef Garde Manger at the Garden City Hotel, Executive Sous Chef of the kitchen at the United Nations, and Executive Chef at the Riverhouse Restaurant in New Jersey (where he earned 4 stars from the Asbury Park Press). Chef Avram is more than just a little familiar with the demands of the kosher kitchen, having served as the executive chef for Lederman Caterers in Queens, Kay Caterers in NYC, President Caterers in Long Island, and Paradise Caterers at Marina Del Ray in The Bronx. Chef Avram began teaching, his true passion, in 2000 at The Art Institute of New York. Over the six years he spent there, he earned a CHE certification in hospitality education and completed coursework in teaching methodology. Chef Wiseman was made Dean of Student Affairs at CKCA in Sepetember 2010 and teaches the Professional Training Program in Culinary Arts as well as many of our recreational classes. We are extremely fortunate to have someone as knowledgeable, charismatic, and inspired as Chef Wiseman as part of our team.

Chef Philippe Kaemmerle

Head Pastry Instructor

Chef Philippe Kaemmerle is a seasoned pastry chef and chef instructor who hails from the Alsace region of France. He began his career at the age of 15 with a rigorous training program in Pastry in Strasbourg France. At 18, he joined the staff of a two Michelin star restaurant, also in Strasbourg. He went on to work in Sweden, Paris and St. Tropez before coming to New York in 1986. Chef Kaemmerle had a distinguished pastry career in New York, having worked in such gourmet restaurants as Aquavit, the 21 Club and Windows on the World. Chef Kaemmerle comes to us not only with experience in the kitchen, but experience in classrooms and competition halls as well. Prior to joining CKCA he had been an instructor and competition team leader for 14 years at The Art Institute of New York, and has also taught at the French Culinary Institute and New York Technical College. Chef Kaemmerle is the lead instructor of our professional training program in pastry arts and also teaches several of our recreational classes. Chef Kaemmerle is an incredibly talented pastry chef with as sharp an eye for detail and presentation as the best of them!

Chef Robert Pertusi

Culinary Instructor

Chef Robert Pertusi is a professionally trained chef and natural educator. His career in the food business began with the Air Force where he worked as a cook in the service clubs at his base. The rigorous military training taught him to be disciplined and to take pride in his work. After leaving the Air Force, Chef Pertusi earned his associate’s degree from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. His first job out of school was as an apprentice at the world-famous Four Seasons restaurant in New York. From there, Chef Pertusi worked as a chef on cruise ships—including the S.S Rotterdam, hotels—including the Garden City Hotel, and restaurants—including the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station and the landmark Amber Lantern restaurant. He went on to become the chef of his own business, a fine-food and catering establishment in New York City called the Culinary Kitchen which had a successful 10 year run. Chef Pertusi began teaching culinary arts with the Career Academy of New York City, where he rose to the rank of senior chef-instructor.  He is currently the Executive Chef at The Esplanade Luxury residence on Staten Island and is continuing his love for teaching and sharing his vast experience of culinary arts as an instructor of our career training program and popular Culinary Bootcamp series. We are fortunate to have him as part of our team.

Lynn Kutner

Baking Instructor

Lynn Kutner started cooking and baking at a very early age, under the direction of her Russian grandmother, a true master of the kosher kitchen. She was the first culinary instructor at the New School’s culinary school in Manhattan, where she taught cooking and baking from 1974 to 2008. Lynn has also been a restaurant and cookbook reviewer, has published two cookbooks of her own (Bountiful Bread and A Pocketful of Pies), has appeared in numerous publications about food as well as on the Food Network and ABC-TV. She and her husband have traveled extensively in France and Italy, where she has been a careful observer of culinary methods. Lynn is an excellent cook and an extraordinary baker whose enthusiasm, dedication, and attention to detail never cease to amaze!

Richard Wheeler

Porter

A lifelong New Yorker, Richard Wheeler has been working in the food business in one capacity or another for over twenty years. The pride he puts into his job is inspiring and his hard work keeps CKCA clean and organized. We are fortunate to have someone as reliable as Richard as part of our team.

SEPHARDI SHABBAT

Cook exotic dishes!

Join cookbook author, Jennifer Abadi, for a special Sephardi feast!

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KNIFE SKILLS

Our sharpest class, yet!

Master the use of your kitchen's most important tool: The knife.

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