Meet Our Instructors

Hannah Smith

Zest’s Culinary Director, Chef Hannah is a Pennsylvania farm country native. She received both her Culinary Arts degree as well as her Baking & Pastry Arts degree from Pennsylvania College of Technology, Penn State University. Her love for traveling as only second to her love for all things cooking, and she has lived and worked worldwide, including Switzerland and most recently Japan. She loves to inspire confidence in others through cooking, and when not in the kitchen, she enjoys running, riding her horse Rango, and working alongside her husband on the renovation project of their 200 plus-year-old home in Hershey. Be sure to look for her Japanese cooking class, Knife Skills 101, Gluten Free Baking, Brunch, and more!

Helen Chudakova-Sanya

Helen is a proud mama of 4, a Ukrainian immigrant and a forever cook. She spent most of her life in Ukraine studying and later on teaching English language. She has been in the kitchen as long as she remembers and her love of cooking comes from her grandma, who patiently spent hours in the kitchen teaching her. Good food has always meant a good life for her. When she moved to the US, she pursued her passion and started working in the kitchens of Brooklyn. She worked for small farm to table restaurants, culinary schools and for high volume catering companies as well. She recently moved to Lancaster County to pursue a more peaceful and family friendly lifestyle. One of her passions is plant medicine and she is currently studying to become an herbalist. She loves spending her time with her family, farming, hiking, and watching British historical fiction series. 

Linda Leeking

A resident of our own neighborhood Lititz, Chef Linda has enjoyed being part of the Zest instructor team since the beginning! She is a retired Culinary Arts Teacher with 24 years’ experience at both college and high school levels. During those years she taught introductory and advanced cooking skills, including regional and international cuisines. In addition to being a teacher, Linda was a District Foods Manager for Canteen Corporation that included the title of a Food and Beverage Manager for Yellowstone National Park. Linda is loved by her family, coworkers, and students alike! So be sure to check out all her International Classes!

Gwen Eberly

Our resident art extraordinaire, Gwen has been creating things in the kitchen since she was just twelve years old. For the past 25 years she has been teaching elementary and middle school art. Earlier in her career she catered private events and her talents shine brightest when working with our kid chefs here at the school. She enjoys cooking with seasonal and local ingredients, especially those from her own garden. Gwen lives with her 2 awesome teenagers and her husband in historic Marietta along the Susquehanna river. When she is not teaching kids, she enjoys biking, running, and traveling with her family. Check out her Kids Cooking Club on Mondays as well as her fantastic Kids Summer Camps!

Valerie Baer

Valerie is a native to Lancaster County, and as a child, she was a sponge for technique and flavor at the elbow of some of the best cooks around. She is the author of Baking with Whole Grains, a Cookbook. To Valerie, recipes are considered a starting point to using foods from her garden, fridge, cellar, pantry, and freezers. Her hobbies include sewing/refashioning clothing, baking, flower gardening, and vegetable gardening as well. She and her husband Jim live on several acres where they raise much of their own food. They have one daughter, four sons, a son-in-law, daughter-in-law, plus 8 grands. Her Bread Baking Classes are must-go-to here at the school, but look for her Pennsylvania Dutch style cooking classes, too!