Culinary Arts Faculty
Michelle Roetzer is the Lead Instructor for SFCC’s Culinary Arts Program. Michelle brings 26 years of experience to the stoves. She began cooking at the age of 14 and rose to the position of Sous Chef at 21, eventually earning the title of Executive Chef. She has experience cooking throughout the U.S. and internationally; positions of note include Executive Chef at Café Central in El Paso and Chef De Cuisine at the PGA Champions Dinner. Michelle has cooked for numerous notables including presidents Bush and Clinton, Al Gore, and Vicente Fox of Mexico. She is also a chef at the Santa Fe School of Cooking and a freelance caterer. She is a student of political science, an active outdoorswoman, a gardener, and a mentor to young chefs, whom she calls her “cheflings.”
Leslie Chavez has over 20 years of professional culinary experience, having worked in all phases of the commercial kitchen as a chef, pastry chef, baker, and manager. Leslie received formal culinary training in Italy, and has formidable experience with Southwestern and World Cuisines as a chef and sous chef, as well as being an accomplished baker, pâtissière, and award-winning chocolatier.
In addition, Leslie has used her talents for leadership and team-building in culinary management, including inventory control, P&L, staff training, food production efficiency, sanitary practices, recipe creation and control, and quality control. Currently, Leslie works with both Coriander Catering and Tecolote Café, as well teaching at the Santa Fe School of Cooking and at SFCC as a Chef Instructor. Most recently, Leslie was selected as ‘2013 Chef of the Year’ by the New Mexico Culinary Association.
Helen Singleton Nichols
Helen Singleton Nichols received her B.A. in English and Comparative Literary Studies from Occidental College and her M.A. in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, Santa Fe. Eventually Helen found her way into restaurant kitchens and has been working as a professional pastry chef for over fifteen years. She began teaching at SFCC in 2012 as pastry arts instructor.
As Lead Pastry Faculty for the Culinary Arts, Helen coordinates the Patissier Certificate Program and teaches both basic level and advanced baking and pastry courses. From wholesome yeasted breads to cookies to elegant cakes and tortes, Helen designs classes suitable for industry bound culinary students as well as for those in the community interested in improving their baking skills at home.
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