Faculty at The Culinary School of Fort Worth

All of our professionally trained faculty instructors are chefs with experience, food knowledge and the ability to teach and inspire. Students spend time with these chefs, learn their tips and “chef secrets” and receive mentoring to learn how they can become successful in the culinary world. Networking is of high-value when developing a culinary career and this is the perfect chance to meet local chefs and food leaders and develop relationships in the culinary world. All of our faculty have the heart of a teacher, have a high appreciation of excellence, and enjoy a passion for the culinary industry.

Brad Waier

Head of Faculty

Mark Hitri

Chef Instructor

Jeffrey Thompson

Chef Instructor

Gina Gandy

Chef Instructor

Ched Pagtakhan

Chef Instructor

John Parry

Chef Assistant

Lauren Hughes

Chef Assistant

D'Ann Spraggins

Chef Assistant

Adjunct Faculty

Tiffany Costanzo

Chef Instructor

Nellda Gallagher

Chef Instructor

Samantha Koon

Chef Instructor

Timothy Prefontaine

Executive Chef, The Fort Worth Club

Advisory Board

James Morris


The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel

A native Texan, James was born in Plainview and grew up in Del Rio and Corpus Christi.  Attended college at Texas A & M University in College Station. He began cooking professionally in 1980,  moving to the DFW metroplex in 1987 where he was Executive Chef at the Turtle Cove Restaurant, then at the Dallas Parkway Hilton and Metro Hotels Corp.  James moved to Fort Worth and the Worthington Hotel in 1990.  He is the recipient of numerous awards, both corporate and association related. An avid gardener, fisherman, and believer in sustainable methods of farming and ranching, James is a staunch supporter of the Slow Food Movement and of using and supporting local producers.  An award winning home brew maker, he knows his way around a bottle of wine as well, and is always on the lookout for the “perfect margarita.”

Deb Cantrell


Protein Fit Kitchen

Chef Deb Cantrell is a #1 Amazon Bestselling Author of “So You’re a Chef Now What?” Sought After Speaker and Dietary Consultant who has worked with celebrities such as Glenn Beck, Vernon Wells and Prince Fielder, transforming their lives-along with 5,000 other families in the DFW area, through her food.

Deb has spoken and appeared across the country as a keynote and featured speaker at the United States Personal Chef Association, the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Texas Chef Association, the American Culinary Federation and the eWomen Network, to name a few. She has made TV appearances on CBS and NBC and her health-related articles have been published in prominent publications like Fort Worth Magazine, Indulge Magazine and Star-Telegram.

Chef Deb has been in the culinary industry for 15 years and has operated five different successful culinary businesses including her current personal chef business, Savor Culinary Services and is the Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Protein Fit Kitchen in Southlake, TX.

Aside from running her personal chef company, Chef Deb has been coaching chefs for 10 years and formally launched “Chef Deb” her culinary business coaching business in 2015, where she continues to help chefs grow their business and inspires them to think big in the world of culinary.

Eric O'Connor



Name: Eric Matthew O’Connor
Birthday: November 24, 1977
Birthplace: Buffalo, New York
Other Places Lived: Charlotte, NC; Cary, NC; St. Augustine, FL; Fort Worth, TX
Married to: Allison Bishoff O’Connor (10/1/05)
Children: Ethan Michael O’Connor (10), Chloe Elizabeth O’Connor (8)
High School: Northside Christian Academy, Charlotte, NC (1995)
College: Belk College of Business, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (2003) BSBA, In Business Management
Culinary School: The Culinary School of Fort Worth (2012), Culinary Arts Degree
Work Experience:

  • Multiple Line Cook Jobs (1995-2003) Longhorn Steakhouse, East Side Mario’s, Houlihan’s
  • Kitchen Manager to General Manager to Managing Partner, Chili’s (2003-2010)
  • Saltgrass Steakhouse, Kitchen Expo (2010-2012)
  • Executive Chef/General Manager, Winslow’s Wine Café (2012-2016)
  • Chef de Cuisine, HG SPLY CO (2016-Current)
  • Member of Advisory Board for The Culinary School of Fort Worth, (2015-Present)
  • Class Instructor, The Culinary School of Fort Worth (2015-Present)

Hobbies/Activities: Hunting, Sport Shooting, Travel (Been to 18 States, and 8 Foreign Countries)
Favorite Beverage: Macallan 15-year Single Malt Scotch
Favorite Dish: Pad Thai
Favorite Sport/Team: Football-Buffalo Bills

Chef Network

Joel Schaa CSC

Sous Chef, The Fort Worth Club