The PreGel International Training Centers were harvested by a genuine passion for educating the world about artisanal desserts. Our highly skilled and trained artisanal chefs share a strong commitment for culinary quality. We invite you to PreGel’s International Training Centers to learn from the best in intimate class settings. We are confident that our devoted chefs are the perfect resources for relaying all necessary aspects toward cultivating a successful career in this advancing field.
Corporate Pastry Chef & International Training Centers Manager—U.S.Award-winning and ServSafe-certified 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 Competition and proved to be a strong contender on Season 3 of the Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition. As PreGel Corporate Pastry Chef & International Training Centers Manager—U.S., Pera manages the daily functions of our California, Florida, Chicago, and any future U.S.-based ITCs. Additionally, Sean will be spearheading new recipe development and testing, as well as leading demos, trainings, and private 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.
International Training Centers Coordinator—International
Corporate Pastry Chef & International Training Centers Manager—International
As the Corporate Pastry Chef & International Training Centers Manager – International, Michael Downing brings an impressive level of knowledge and skill set to PreGel America, founded in his previous work at various patisseries in Las Vegas, NV, including those within the Bellagio, and Aria Resort & Casino.
Having showcased his talents from America to Brazil, Michael utilizes his specialty dessert experience toward recipe development, culinary innovation, 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. As Corporate Pastry Chef & International Training Centers Manager—International, Michael manages the International Training Centers—North Carolina, prepares curriculum, and oversees recipe development and all technical aspects of PreGel’s ITCs worldwide.
When Michael is not living his passion for pastries or creating amazing gelato recipes like this, 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.
Victoria is ServSafe certified.
Pastry Chef & Instructor
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 as a ServSafe-certified Pastry Chef.
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!
Assistant Pastry Chef, PreGel International Training Centers – Charlotte, North Carolina
“My career is my passion and my passion is my hobby, so you can always find me in the kitchen creating,” says Kristen Battaglia, Assistant Pastry Chef, PreGel International Training Centers – Charlotte, who realized her growing passion for pastries while helping to prepare the dinners her large Italian family would gather for every Sunday.
Though the native of Brooklyn, New York began her college career with a focus in architecture, after being introduced to the Hospitality Department at New York City College and Technology, Battaglia realized her passion for pastries could be turned into a career. And subsequent to earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management, she never looked back.
“I went wherever my career led me,” says the enthusiastic pastry chef. And with this philosophy, Battaglia traveled abroad to France for a few months, where she broadened her horizons in the field of pastry, realizing another level of respect for the culinary art. Following her return to the U.S., Battaglia learned the art of sugar at L’Auberge Lake Charles and the craft of chocolate at Frederic Loraschi Chocolate in Pennsylvania. Later, after moving back home to NYC, Battaglia refined her pastry knowledge and skills while working at The Pierre—a 5-star/5-diamond hotel—and Michelin Starred restaurant The River Café, respectively.
An eager competitor, Battaglia placed first in the first Junior U.S. Pastry competition and honorable mention in the U.S. Pastry Competition two years later. Battaglia thoroughly enjoys the exhilaration of competing, stating, “The feeling you get when you compete is unexplainable, and I would do it again and again.”
Nevertheless, trying new foods with loved ones and doing her best to work off those culinary experiments through exercise are also activities Battaglia delights in during her free-time. As Assistant Pastry Chef at PreGel America, the energetic chef tests and creates innovative recipes, and shows potential and current business partners how to create a variety of gelato, sorbetto, and pastry using PreGel products.
In her current role, Battaglia exercises her passion for pastry and teaching others, while finding pleasure in another PreGel career perk … occasionally indulging in gelato made with her favorite flavors, PreGel Gianduiotto Rock Traditional Paste, PreGel Butter Pecan Super Sprint, and PreGel Pistachio Pure Anatolia Traditional Paste.
International Training Centers Pastry Chef – Los Angeles, California
Though Italian Tiramisu may be her favorite PreGel gelato flavor, California native Casey Shea has also developed a voracious taste for world travel, and has a long-standing respect for pastry.
Born and raised just outside of Los Angeles, Casey has traveled all over the U.S. and lived in major food hubs such as New York, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C., though she has experienced the cultures and cuisine of destinations including Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Indonesia. All of this while building a notable culinary resume.
With a passion for pastry, Casey studied the epicurean art at the Culinary Institute of America before moving on to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Hospitality Management from her alma mater, University Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). While in Vegas, Casey focused her time toward honing her patisserie skills, working at the Wynn & Encore, where she focused on high volume, quality pastry. Then later handling high volume production for banquets, the buffet, and restaurants at the establishment’s main pastry shop. But Casey spent the majority of her time at the Wynn working in the chocolate room producing truffles, candy bars, and showpieces for the entire resort.
Upon leaving the Wynn, Casey gained experience with menu planning, recipe development, kosher catering, and restaurant service working with a smaller team at the Four Seasons. And following her graduation from UNLV, the seasoned pastry chef joined the famed Milk Bar team to help run multiple high volume commissary kitchens and open new storefronts in Las Vegas, New York, and Washington D.C.
These incredible experiences helped prepare Casey for a role as pastry chef with PreGel, where Casey will teach gelato and pastry classes, and show customers how to incorporate PreGel ingredients into various types of recipes to enhance their current products.
When Casey is not showcasing her innovative culinary nature in the kitchen, she’s enjoying the outdoors either hiking or at the beach, working out, trying new things, and spending time with her English bulldog whenever she can.