The PreGel International Training Centers were harvested by a genuine passion for educating the world about artisanal desserts. Our diverse team of specialty frozen dessert and pastry chefs master different specialties, but they all share a strong devotion for culinary quality. We invite you to PreGel’s International Training Centers to nurture and express your appreciation for specialty desserts in intimate class settings. We are confident that our devoted chefs are the perfect vessels for relaying all aspects necessary for cultivating a successful career in this advancing field.
Corporate Pastry Chef, International Training Center - Charlotte, NC
Award-winning chef Sean Pera comes to PreGel from Herons at the Umstead Hotel & Spa in Cary, NC. Pera is the son of an Italian father who owned vineyards and a café, and a Hungarian mother that introduced Pera to traditional dishes and sweets from her native country. Based on his childhood, the pastry aficionado confirms that food was a natural part of his life. And his journey toward becoming a pastry chef, which Pera describes as "unforgettable", began at a very young age.
"I would say around the age of 11 I became very serious about becoming a chef and from then on I really devoted myself to learning as much as I could about food," Pera recalls. The budding chef devoutly watched televised international pastry competitions, mesmerized and inspired by the phenomenal works of edible art that were created. "I knew right then and there I wanted to know how to do the same," Pera shares.
Pera is the winner of the 2013 4th Annual StarChef.com International Pastry Competiton and a strong contender on Season 3 of the Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition. As Pastry Chef at PreGel, Pera assists in new recipe development and testing, as well as assisting in demos and classes covering a variety of dessert topics.
Pera's favorite dessert is French macarons and his favorite savory dish is a sweet pea risotto with goat cheese, as well as peppered bacon.
Assistant Pastry Chef and Instructor, International Training Center – Charlotte, NC
Born in the Republic of Panama, Alicia is a veteran traveler. Having been exposed to the culinary arts while in high school, Alicia's eyes were opened to the amazing opportunities in the culinary industry. A graduate of Johnson & Wales University - Providence, Alicia received an Associate of Arts & Science in Culinary Arts degree and a Bachelor of Arts & Science in Baking and Pastry Arts degree.
As an assistant pastry chef and instructor, Alicia assists with recipe development and testing, and enjoys working on projects that use PreGel products in unique ways. She also assists with demos and classes covering a variety of dessert topics. Preceding her role as assistant pastry chef and instructor, Alicia served as PreGel's training center coordinator.
Prior to joining PreGel, Alicia worked at resorts such as Sea Island, GA, and Sun Valley, ID. In her spare time, Alicia can be found painting or tending to her vegetable garden.
Instructor and Training Coordinator, Professional Training Center – Los Angeles, CA
As an Italian native, gelato and European desserts are in Claudio Colapicchioni's blood. This deep-rooted heritage combined with his culinary expertise and passion to succeed make Colapicchioni the perfect fit as an instructor and training coordinator at PreGel AMERICA's West Coast Professional Training Center located in Los Angeles, CA.
Colapicchioni started his journey with PreGel AMERICA five years ago. With the launch of the West Coast Professional Training Center, Colapicchioni's role recently expanded from his former technical support position. As the school's instructor and training coordinator, he handles all the details for producing the classes and instructs on gelato, frozen yogurt and pastry in addition to assisting customers with recipes and creating new flavors. Prior to switching to technical support in 2011, Colapicchioni started his career with PreGel in a sales capacity as the sales representative for the West Coast where he created lasting relationships with customers.
Colapicchioni's love for the culinary arts began well before PreGel. Colapicchioni graduated from culinary school in Italy at age 18 and worked in various restaurants in the U.S., France and Spain. During this experience, Colapicchioni enjoyed learning about the many different foods and cultures in various countries. After two years of working in the restaurant world, Colapicchioni decided to go back to school and get a degree in accounting to eventually pursue his lifelong dream of opening a restaurant.
Colapicchioni still has hopes of one day opening a restaurant but loves the creativity of his current job. His favorite flavor of gelato is the Italian delicacy torrone, but he enjoys mixing multiple flavors to create new masterpieces. In his spare time, Colapicchioni likes to spend time with his daughter, read books and play soccer.
The delicious pastry and confection creations that happened in Vegas didn't stay secret for long after Michael Downing arrived in Concord, NC and joined PreGel's International Training Center as an assistant pastry chef. Having worked in various pastry shops in Las Vegas, NV including the Bellagio and Aria Resort & Casino, Michael utilizes his specialty dessert experience toward recipe development,culinary instruction and technical advisory.
Michael earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing from Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, where he grew up, and later completed formal pastry training at the Alain and Marie LeNotre Culinary Institute in Houston, TX, where he achieved a Sous Chef de Patisserie diploma.
When Michael is not living his passion for pastries, he enjoys playing golf, reading, and spending time with his family.
Pastry Chef & Instructor - PreGel International Training Center, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
With a genuine passion for culinary arts, Victoria brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her role as pastry chef & instructor at PreGel America. A native of Uruguay, South America, Victoria honed her culinary skills in the United States, having worked her way up through the ranks of busy restaurant kitchens to achieve pastry chef status before earning certification in culinary management. The enthusiastic chef also boasts experience at high-end, three-star restaurants including Union Square Cafe and Prime Grill in New York City, and a 5-year tenure as a pastry chef instructor at the famed Institute of Culinary Education (ICE).
At PreGel America, Victoria informs and educates students of the International Training Center on how to use PreGel products to produce authentic Italian gelato and a wide variety of pastries. Victoria describes her current endeavor of working at PreGel as "the cherry on top of a cake."
During her spare time, the active culinary artist enjoys performing the captivating dance forms of Salsa and Tango, as well as playing tennis, volleyball, swimming, and running.
Assistant Pastry Chef, PreGel International Training Center, Charlotte, NC
With extensive experience in the pastry & confections industry, Jason brings a wealth of knowledge to the PreGel International Training Center - Charlotte, NC. Having served at the likes of esteemed establishments such as The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary, NC, and the Relais & Chateaux Camden Harbour Inn, Camden, Maine, Jason draws from those stages of cultivation to juggle the array of responsibilities he welcomes at PreGel America.
Though the native of Coos Bay, Oregon, grew up in a military family and traveled to such destinations as Canada, Germany, and Panama, Jason's favorite hobby is spending time with his 3 sons. Although, when the opportunity presents itself, Jason also enjoys indulging in his favorite PreGel product - Grisbi® Arabeschi® (Italian Lemon Cookie).
PreGel International Training Centers Pastry Chef – Chicago, IllinoisSnowboarding, stand-up paddle boarding, painting, hiking, camping, trying new foods, fishing, reading, and telling corny jokes – this captivating list of adventurous pastimes offers a peek at the outgoing personality of Mary Bonsall, PreGel International Training Centers Assistant Pastry Chef – Chicago, Illinois. However, Mary’s true passion is exemplified in her appreciation for the art of culinary innovation.
“When I was in Kindergarten we had just moved to Coronado California and my mother signed up all of my siblings and myself for sports activities to help us meet new friends. When I was not coordinated enough to stay in gymnastics, she signed me up for a kiddie cooking class instead. Since then I’ve always enjoyed cooking and helping in the kitchen,” says the native of Monterey, California.
With a Bachelor of Science Degree in Hospitality Management from Northern Michigan University, Mary has been developing her acute culinary skills by way of her formal education, and extensive background as a staple in notable pastry kitchens. These include the Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples – Florida; Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne – Miami; and the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City – Arlington, Virginia. Mary made history as the first pastry chef at The Sulgrave Club, Washington, D.C., which was established in 1932, and went on to help develop its successful pastry program.
As a child of a Navy family, Mary has lived in different parts of the United States, with Chicago being her 15th move, and has travelled to Canada, Mexico, South America, the Caribbean, and other countries abroad. However, as the Assistant Pastry Chef – Chicago, Mary looks forward to the exploration of the specialty dessert world alongside culinary enthusiasts who visit the International Training Centers – Chicago.
Mary will be practicing the art of teaching both classic and unique ways of utilizing PreGel’s diverse line of specialty dessert ingredient solutions, and offering her partnership, skills, and know-how as a resource for those looking to start or enhance their businesses. In a free moment, Mary may even enjoy her favorite PreGel treat – Chocolate Peanut Butter gelato made with PreGel Gran Stracciatella Reale Arabeschi® (Chocolate Chips) and PreGel Salted Peanut Traditional Paste. She’ll be happy to teach you the fundamentals of making such an enjoyable treat and more!