Chef Demeatrie Funderburk was born into a military family and spent a great deal of her formative years in Germany, Belgium and then Louisiana, where her mother is from originally. After the tragedy of September 11th in 2001, she enlisted in the Air Force as a Computer Engineer and was stationed in England and South Korea. During her time in the service, she spent many hours, outside of the uniform, cooking for her fellow troops to give them a sense of home in a place that was so detached from their current reality. She separated from the military in 2007 and attended Gros Bonet Culinary Academy in Honolulu, Hawaii in conjunction with working in some restaurants in downtown Waikiki. She continued to build her craft after in Chicago, Central Florida and Northern California. After that, she decided it was time to pursue this passion on her own terms and traveled the world a bit more to sharpen her skills as well as learn about cuisines and techniques that are specific to particular regions. On her journey to this goal, she worked in Big Sky, Montana; Stanwood, Washington and Livingston Manor, New York. She has also appeared on the fifth season of The Food Network’s “Cooks vs. Cons”.
In her free time, Chef Demeatrie continues to provide support, services and time to artistic endeavors that facilitate self-growth, acceptance, companionship and camaraderie for veterans, the homeless, lower income, LGBTQIA+ and adolescent communities. Her business, The Starving Gypsy, is an all-inclusive entity that strives for equality, fair treatment and understanding amongst all backgrounds be it race, color or creed.
Chef Heidi Wittenborn comes from a family of great cooks. Some of Heidi’s fondest memories are of cooking together with her parents and her brother. Not only daily family meals but many a meal for large holiday gatherings at the homes of aunts, uncles and grandparents inspired Heidi to stretch her culinary skills. Her mom and dad hosted parties regularly and her mom taught Heidi the fine art of entertaining and creating a memorable party from an early age.
Chef Heidi has built on those family traditions. She has been catering special events for more than 35 years. In July 2008, she added a degree in culinary arts from the Texas Culinary Academy, a Le Cordon Bleu affiliated school, to her credentials.
Chef Heidi enjoys creating dishes inspired by the world's great cuisines. She is constantly looking for new flavors and ingredients to add flair to dishes and create a memorable experience. She also enjoys sharing her experience with others and teaching cooking classes is one of her favorite ways to share.
Chef Dan Castro emigrated from the Philippines to the United States at the age of 13. His passion for cooking did not start until his junior year of high school when he discovered that the aspects of camaraderie, high activity, intensity and competitiveness adapted to the kitchen. When opportunity arose, Dan earned a scholarship to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York where he finished his Associates and Bachelors Degrees in Culinary Arts Management.
Dan’s other experiences include an apprenticeship at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he learned other styles of cooking from banquets, brasseries, tavern, room service, butchery, and pastry. After expanding his knowledge, Dan moved to Austin to pursue a focus on French and Asian techniques to work at Uchiko here in Austin, Texas starting as a pantry cook and finishing up his tenure as a sushi chef.
His exposure to various networks and opportunities has allowed Dan to become the personal chef that he is today – developing menus based on his knowledge of technique by starting out meal prepping for members of his gym by composing restaurant flavors in meal prep dishes, in addition to doing events where he showcases French, Filipino and Japanese techniques and flavors in his events. Chef Dan can be found at Eversoul Culinary.
Chef Pham is an ACF certified executive chef and holds a Master’s degree in education. She taught at the collegiate level for nearly a decade before pursuing her culinary career. She graduated at the top of her class from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and is currently a professor at the CIA in San Antonio. Chef Pham is well versed in culinary and baking and pastry. She specializes in Asian and European cuisine, fermentation, and butchery. She has worked in some of NYC’s finest restaurants for Danny Meyer, Alfred Portale, Anita Lo, and Andrew Carmellini. She worked at the Flying Fish and Wild Ginger in Seattle before venturing on her own. Chef Pham has spoken at national conferences such as Worlds of Flavor, Healthy Kitchen Healthy Lives, and Global Plant Base Summit. You might have seen her locally as a presenter at the Austin Fermentation Festival and Gluten-Free Festival. She was a judge for the Food Network’s show All Star Academy and was inducted into the Disciples of Escoffier and Les Dames d’Escoffier International. Chef Pham has created nearly 100 recipes for Optavia and worked with Fortune 500 companies like Google, Amazon, Dell, Microsoft, and Facebook. These days she’s particularly interested in food innovation, product development, sourcing, research and development. She enjoys home cooked meals and humble coffee shops.