Biographies of Stir’s Chef Instructors!

Katy Foster – Chef/Owner 

Stir Cooking School was created by Katy and opened for business in December 2010. Keep reading below to find out how Stir came about. Through the years Katy has stepped back and works part time at Stir as she is a mother and is opening another business, this time with her husband, in the RiNo area of Denver. Their new restaurant, Julep, will be a sophisticated southern restaurant.

Ryan Schaefer – Chef Instructor/Manager 

At 10 years old you could easily find Ryan in the kitchen- the bursting aromas, pan flashes and a newly discovered frontier of flavors kept him happily curious as his passion to be a chef began to simmer early in his journey. During his years as a college student Ryan kept to the kitchen working for Sweet & Savory Catering and eventually ended up as the Executive Chef of Tierra Del Sol Country Club at age 20! He attended Arizona State University, Centro de Lengua Modernas in Granada, Spain and he finished his studies with a Bachelors in English and Spanish in his hometown of Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico. With two degrees under his belt and an unmapped career path, Ryan still felt like something was missing. Then something clicked, chef coat on with knife in hand at Culinary School in Denver at Johnson & Wales University in 2013.

Ryan joined the Stir team in 2013 while he attended culinary school and then took the opportunity to spread his culinary knowledge, experience and passion as a culinary instructor at Stir after graduation.His classes are informative, fun, and surely a solid recipe for an unforgettable class and food memories!

Drake Louie – Chef Instructor 

When I was 8, I made my first pot of rice as a part of my daily chores. After walking home from school I’d have to measure and wash the grains, add the appropriate amount of water, and then cook said rice. Forward to my senior year of high school, out of curiosity, I joined the FCCLA culinary squad to sort of get back to my roots and see how far I have come since I made my first cup of rice. We prepared for the Culinary Stars competition, it was a task to say the least, but we finished confident. I was offered a small scholarship to attend the culinary program at a community college, but I didn’t take it. Instead I worked while getting an Associates in liberal arts, got bored and went to school in Albion, Michigan, played DIII lacrosse and wound up with a BA in English & Creative Writing. I returned home to Hawaii and I found my thoughts focused on what was next in my life.
I answered that by leaving Hawaii once more, for Colorado, for Johnson & Wales Denver, for culinary school, enthused and ready. After two years I exhausted my NCAA lacrosse eligibility, received an Associates in Culinary Arts and a BA in Food Service Management & Entrepreneurship. After stints at Dazbog Coffee Co. & Restaurant Japon, I landed an internship turned line cook at Colt & Grey, but slowly the Kitchen wore on me and took over my life, as it should for a young cook, but then I felt my future held other things. By chance my Classmate from JWU, Ryan, worked at Stir Cooking School and he asked about my interest in becoming a teammate and possibly an instructor. I said yes, duh, and the challenge of teaching the craft engulfed my efforts. The responsibility, consistency, and pride amplified from my youth circled. Each customer interaction has been a rewarding experience, and teaching is the perfect balance between knowing and learning; the perfect balance for me.

The Story of Katy and how Stir came about…

In order to fully understand how Stir came about, one has to know the story of myself, Katy Foster (Hume). I am the Chef and Owner of Stir.

I began cooking at a pretty young age because my mom was always creating something home cooked for dinner. Generally it would be considered “new night” which was usually delicious but sometimes it was just that, “new”. Throughout middle school and high school in Texas, I was definitely an involved, busy girl and I didn’t have a lot of time to cook. But when I did, I always got in trouble for not cleaning up after myself. Let’s just say, I have grown past that!

Because of my involvement and good grades in High School, I ended up graduating top of my class and in turn attending The University of Texas in Austin in their Red McCombs School of Business. It’s not that I didn’t have a good time in Austin, how couldn’t I, I just realized that the direction I was going, wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want to sit in an office all day. I remember distinctly sitting in my incredibly small dorm room at UT when one of my friends asked me “If I could do anything in the world what would it be?” I said without even thinking that “I’d own my own restaurant.” It was at that moment that my focus changed.

I did my research of the best culinary schools in the country before calling my mom. When I did call the first thing I said was “Mom, I’m quitting business school to go to the CIA.”….PAUSE….Mom: “But honey, you have to have an college education to be a spy.” I laughed and said “No mom, The Culinary Institute of America”. My parents were incredibly supportive, so I finished out my semester at UT and I began my adventure at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY in April of 2001.

I couldn’t have asked for a better experience than the one I had at the CIA. It taught me not only the fundamentals of classic cooking techniques but it also helped me learn even more about myself. I realized that cooking really is what I love and I couldn’t wait to begin a career in it. After graduating with an Associates Degree from the CIA, I was selected to be apart of the Teaching Assistant Program in one of the restaurants at school, also known as the Fellowship Program. I decided that focusing on front of the house in a restaurant would be beneficial because I had never really experienced it before.  I learned that I really enjoyed both aspects of the culinary world: cooking and interacting with customers.

When the opportunity to move from NY to San Francisco came about, I jumped on the it because I really wanted to experience California cuisine. San Francisco is a great city, actually one of my favorites to visit, but it was just too expensive! I couldn’t live the lifestyle that I loved so much, ie: going out to “fancy dinners”. So I randomly applied for a Chef Instructor Management position at Sur la Table in Dallas. After several interviews, I got the job and moved from California back to Texas!

For the last three and a half years, I have been running the culinary program at Sur la Table in Dallas. It was an amazing experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to learn the ins and out of one day running my very own cooking school. After being in Dallas for quite some time, I reached a point where I needed a change. I had a great job, that I loved but the next best thing I could do was to open my own cooking school. So here I am, in Denver, closer to my family and very excited to be apart of the adventures of small business!

And Along Came Stir…

I have been working on this project since February of 2010. Whoa, has it been a learning experience. From deciding on the perfect location to handling everything with the city…I can’t thank everyone enough who has helped me. It wouldn’t have been possible without you. I’m very excited to be a part of such an amazing neighborhood and I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of new people from all treks of life. Please stop in to say hi…something new is happening everyday!