Faculty & Administration
Dr. Vivian Ray - Chairperson
Ed.D., M.S. A.S., ACF, B.S., CC
A native of Chicago, IL, Dr. Ray is a highly trained chef with more than 25 years of experience in the foodservice industry in the capacity of Executive Chef, Chef Instructor, Contract Food Service Management, Catering Director in addition she has worked in esteemed European and American hotels and restaurants. Prior to her arrival at MDC, Dr. Ray was the Founding Director of Livingstone College B.S. in Hospitality Management & A.S.in Culinary Arts Program.
Dr. Ray believes food is amazing and enjoys combining her passion, experience and education - to teach and mentor students.
Ed.D Education leadership, University Central Florida
Chef José Casals - Assistant Professor
José was born into a family steeped in a rich culinary tradition. Like his grandfather a certified chef and mother before him, Jose found his passion in cooking early on. Today, Chef Casals holds a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration on Hospitality Management. In addition, the prestigious American Culinary Federation has certified Chef Casals as an Executive Chef since 2002. After graduating with his first degree at the age of 20, and working for some of the most notable restaurants in Palm Beach Island, Chef Casals took his skills, where else, but Walt Disney World. There he quickly learned the Disney system and became Chef at several high profile restaurants within the Disney organization that included the famous Brown Derby a Specialty Restaurant and the Banquet Department at the Disney MGM Studios.
For many years, Chef Casals worked on honing his skills and he developed an incredible ability to create imaginative dishes. During this time he became, a Disney Chef Ambassador for the Epcot Food and Wine festival appearing on live TV and radio showcasing many cutting edge techniques, in both English and Spanish. Chef Casals can be also seen preparing special recipes on local and regional television, talking about food on radio, judging culinary competitions, lecturing to and advising culinary students around the world
Chef Patrick McCurry - Senior Instructor
Chef Patrick McCurry is a native of South Florida. Immediately following his attendance at University of Central Florida , he chose to pursue his passion in the culinary field to attend the Art Institute Fort Lauderdale. While attending school, he worked under acclaimed James Beard winner Chef Johnny Vinczencz. Soon after, he continued his education to receive a Master's degree from The University of Phoenix. His history of employment includes several years of working in highly respected restaurants in the Fort Lauderdale area including Johnny V's, Fish, Jackson's Steakhouse and Morton's.
Chef Pedro Acosta - Instructor
Chef Pedro Acosta found his passion for cooking very early in his life, working and learning the basic skills from his family; taking most of his inspiration from his father. He desired to take his dreams and pursue a career in the culinary world. Chef Pedro holds a Bachelor degree in Culinary Management from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale as well as a Master degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University.
Chef Sandra Canella-Rawls - Baking and Pastry Instructor
Chef Canella-Rawls (A.D, B.D, M.D), has spent the past 20 years working as a pastry chef, executive pastry chef and head baker, perfecting her skills and techniques, while making her primary home in The US. Professor Canella-Rawls taught at The Professional Culinary Institute of the Silicon Valley, California, Orlando Culinary Academy (Le Cordon Bleu), SENAC Sao Paulo, SENAI Sao Paulo. At the moment, Chef Canella-Rawls teaches at Miami Culinary Institute (MCI) and at San Ignacio College Miami. Chef Canella-Rawls is the author of Pao: Arte & Ciencia, a book about breads and doughs, which was the recipient of the “The Best Bread Book of 2005” award by the Gourmand Association in Germany, celebrating its 5th edition. This award winning book captures her zeal for the baking & pastry arts.
Chef Bernardo Espinel - Culinary Instructor
With over 20 years of experience, he has worked as a chef for distinguished restaurants in world-renowned hotels and resorts including the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, Miami and Kurahulanda Resort in Curacao, Netherland Antilles. He has extensive experience in menu development that includes Indian, Asian, Latin-Caribbean, Mediterranean, and American Contemporary influences. Chef Bernardo is now training future chefs the essential skills, they need for success in the kitchen, management of employees, and restaurant operations.
Chef Malka Espinel - Baking and Pastry Instructor
Malka Espinel is perhaps one of South Florida’s pre-eminent pastry chefs. She is young, bright, incredibly talented and above all creative. Born in Colombia, Espinel credits her love for desserts to numerous hours spent in her grandmother’s kitchen. Her Latin roots spur her eclectic creations; an artful fusion of Latin flavors and complex textures, paired with the simplicity of classic American pastry art. She painstakingly prepares her desserts, enticing the always enthusiastic patrons to dive into her creations. She has carved a name for herself, not only in South Florida, but nationally, having graced the pages of such respected magazines as Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design, among others.
Espinel finished her degree in Food Engineering in Colombia and decided to move to the United States for a more specialized degree in Culinary Arts where she completed yet another undergraduate degree from The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. Armed with both diplomas, Espinel moved to Miami to pursue her Master’s degree at Florida International University. She attributes her stellar success to hard work and dedication, but above all to being herself and being true to her flavors.
An enthusiast of new cultures and art, Espinel claims that the more she travels, the more she learns about different customs and foods. While open to exciting opportunities to work short term abroad, she asserts that South Florida is where she sees herself in the end. Espinel also promises that she plans to eventually open her own business, where lovers of her delicious desserts and exotic ice creams can indulge their guilty pleasures anytime of the day or night. We’ll all be waiting!
Chef Paul Galadza - Instructor
Chef Paul Galadza has been holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management from Florida International University. Formerly Executive Chef and General Manager at Captains Tavern, he now dedicates his time to teaching young culinarians. Chef Galadza has been recognized by the American Culinary Federation as a Certified Executive Chef.
He also holds a certification in Serv Safe. In addition to his teaching students at The Miami Culinary Institute Chef Galadza teaches at Robert Morgan Educational Center.
Chef Asser Y. Ghali - Instructor
Asser "AY" Ghali has enjoyed being in the Culinary and hospitality field since 1976, his education started with a culinary and hospitality management degree from the French Hotel School of Alexandria, then a "CP&HM" Certified in Pedagogic and Hotel schools management from the CDG Germany.
Chef Monical Gill - Instructor
California-born, Miami raised, Monica Gill is a culinary & catering specialist and educator with a lifetime of experience. Born to a Sicilian father and a Colombian mother, Monica has always had a passion for food. With the fusion of growing up in Italian-Colombian household, she honed her kitchen skills under the guidance of her Sicilian grandmother and other family elders, whom all believed in using fresh ingredients and instilling family traditions in cooking.
A graduate of Miami Beach High School, Monica continued to work in the Culinary Arts Field and obtained college degrees from Miami Dade College and Johnson & Wales University in Hospitality Management, Culinary Arts and rounding off with her MBA. She also, spent time traveling, researching, and teaching Culinary Arts in Mexico and South America, exploring her Hispanic roots, which continued to lay strong foundation for her cooking. One of her highlights, was honing her culinary skills under the guidance of Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse and Chef Robert Bruce in the Southern-Creole town of New Orleans, Louisiana. She remained active in the Culinary Industry, cooking in restaurants, catering and banquets for masses of individuals as an Executive Sous Chef.
After returning to South Florida full-time, Monica began educating students at local, national recognized colleges including Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts, Miami Culinary Institute at Miami Dade College, and San Ignacio College. She has received teaching certifications from the American Culinary Federation and the National Restaurant Association to add to her credentials. She made her dreams come to life of being a restaurant owner, when she and the support of her close family ran a successful Italian Restaurant in the exclusive neighborhood of Pinecrest, called Kaliapy’s.
However, Monica’s best attribute in combination with her Culinary Skills, is her compassion for helping youth and disadvantaged adults. She has changed many lives of students and inner-city adults through work as Professor, inspiring them to excel in whatever career path they chose. She served as the Culinary Director for Easter Seals South Florida for several years, which provides exceptional services to children and adults with disabilities or special needs and their families, helping the school reinstate the necessary education foundation of Culinary basics for all future chefs.
Never an individual to rest on her laurels, Monica continues to educate students at local colleges and universities.
Monica is a wonderful mother to her son Connor, 14 and is a very supportive aunt to her nieces and nephews, and is an active & loving woman within her family.
Chef Ana Plana - Instructor
Chef Ana Plana graduated Summa Cume Laude with her degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University. In 2009, she received Rookie Teacher of the Year at MAST Academy, in 2010, she received FENI Secondary Educator of the Year award, in 2013-2014 she was named Teacher of the Year at MAST Academy. Currently she holds a position on the board of Le Dames D'Escoffier Miami Chapter as member at large for education. Ana continues as a Culinary Arts instructor and department chair at Mast Academy, as well as an adjunct professor at the Miami Culinary Institute of Miami Dade College. From The Blue Door - Delano Hotel, to the Sandestin Resort at The Elephant Walk Restaurant, Lowell-Hunt Catering in Seattle, Ana has had a range of experiences in the culinary world.
Chef Nidia Santiago - Instructor
Nidia Santiago is from Panama, and along with her family moved to Miami ten years ago. Her admirable education includes a BA Degree in International Affairs, BS Degree in Hospitality Administration, MBA in Finance, Post Graduate Diploma for University Professor, and a Culinary Degree from Johnson & Wales University. Nidia’s experience is composed of event logistics and restaurant management in the hospitality industry that include the Conrad Miami Hotel, the Panama Marriott Hotel and Resort, and the InterContinental West Miami Hotel. Besides her front of the house experience, Nidia has dedicated her efforts to create healthy recipes to Schools such as La Prima Casa Montessori in Miami, F.P. International Christian School of Miami, The Metropolitan School of Panama, Key Point Academy International in Miami, and now The Miami Culinary Institute of Miami Dade College.
Chef Nidia has worked for TV Shows such as La Buena Mesa TV-Nestle in Panama, Tu Desayuno Alegre - Venevision International in Miami, and Mi Bebe – (Fox Networks- Utilisima International), Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her passion guided her to create Food n’ Colors Catering Inc., where the main mission is to teach children the different alternatives of healthy eating by cooking simple recipes.
Jesus Vazquez - Program Coordinator
Jesse began his career with McDonald’s Corporation in 1986. During his time with the food service giant, he held various positions, including Multi-Unit Manager, Business Consultant and Senior Operations Consultant. Internationally, Jesse was a member of the development team that opened new markets for McDonald’s in Mexico (1987) and Martinique (1990).
In 1999, Jesse decided it was time to take the next step and became the Owner/Operator of the first Chicken Kitchen franchise located in Pinecrest, Florida. First year sales for the new restaurant exceeded $2 million making it one of the highest sales per square footage restaurants in the United States. In 2001, Jesse open a second Chicken Kitchen restaurant in Country Walk, Florida. In 2008, Jesse opened his third and own concept restaurant in Miami, Florida.
Jesse believes in giving back to his community and has served on several community service organization boards, including:
Jesse has a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Economics/Finance and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Finance.