Our chefs program provides a valuable opportunity to experience innovative vegetarian dishes prepared by a selection of leading vegetarian and vegan chefs.

Here are the chefs who presented in 2023.

The recipes presented by each chef are linked next to their name.

Chef AJ – see recipes presented.

Chef AJ has been devoted to a plant-exclusive diet for over 45 years. She was the host of the television series Healthy Living with CHEF AJ which aired on Foody TV. A chef, culinary instructor and professional speaker, she is the author of three bestselling books, The Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss:  A Revolutionary Approach to Conquer Cravings, Overcome Food Addiction and Lose Weight Without Going Hungry, Own Your Health and The 10th Anniversary Edition of Unprocessed, all which have received glowing endorsement by many luminaries in the plant based movement.

Chef AJ was the Executive Pastry Chef at Santé Restaurant in Los Angeles where she was famous for her vegan, sugar, oil, salt and gluten free desserts which use the fruit, the whole fruit and nothing but the whole fruit. She broadcasts CHEF AJ LIVE! on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter daily.  She is the creator of the Ultimate Weight Loss Program, which has helped hundreds of people achieve the health and the body that they deserve and is proud to say that her IQ is higher than her cholesterol.  In 2018 she was inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame.

Krimsey Lilleth – see recipes presented.

Raised in the rich, celebratory culture of the deep south, Krimsey is a Louisiana-born writer, self-taught chef, and visual artist. After going vegan over fifteen years ago, she began creating plant-based versions of her favorite southern dishes, and eventually left her engineering career to found “Krimsey’s Cajun Kitchen,” the world’s first vegan Cajun restaurant (Los Angeles, 2016-2020). The restaurant featured rich, flavorful Cajun classics such as jambalaya, gumbo, poboys, hushpuppies, and beignets, and attracted crowds from across the country with its unique cuisine, live Zydeco music, and high-spirited annual Mardi Gras parties. After closing, she published all of her restaurant recipes in The Cajun Vegan Cookbook so that her dishes could continue to be enjoyed by all, at home.

Although her restaurant days are behind her, she still loves experimenting in the kitchen, sharing recipes online, and cooking for loved ones. She also continues to write and illustrate books, with her latest two releases being Walden-ish and The Magical Story of Walden Pond. Learn more and connect with Krimsey at

Dr Jyothi Rao – see recipes presented

Dr Jyothi Rao, MD received her bachelor degree from Rutgers University and her MD from New Jersey Medical School.  She completed her internship and residency from Tufts New England Medical Center. She achieved her acupuncture training from the Helms Institute of Acupuncture in UCLA in 2000. She completed her Functional Medicine training from the American Academy of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine in 2013. She has been in clinical practice since 1997 and now is the medical director of Shakthi Health and Wellness Center in Maryland. She is an instructor at the Maryland University of Integrative  Health,  George Washington School of Medicine and a Moderator at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.   

She has published Body on Fire and Body on Fire Cookbook to help guide patients with lifestyle medicine.  In addition, Jyothi works with large community and business organizations to help bring education on lifestyle changes to their communities through lectures, conferences, and podcasts.

Miyoko Schinner – see recipes presented

Miyoko Schinner, vegan chef, cookbook author, and television cooking show host, has been promoting delicious, decadent, and healthful plant-based foods for the past thirty years. Her recent cookbook, Artisan Vegan Cheese, is a top-selling book on Amazon, and has been called “The holy grail of the culinary world.” More recently, she has written “The Vegan Meat Cookbook.” She is a co-host of Vegan Mashup, a new cooking show on public television, and stars in her own whimsical online show, Miyoko’s Kitchen. As a cooking instructor, she teaches regularly in the McDougall Program, and at festivals and events around the country.

She is a former restaurateur (Now and Zen, San Francisco), and food developer, and has had her vegan products distributed nationwide as well as on United Airlines. She has appeared in publications, television, and radio, including VegNews, NPR, ABC World News Tonight, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Washington Post, New York Post, Eating Well, and many other media outlets.

Sunita Shastri – see recipes presented

Sunita Shastri was born in the South Indian state of Karnataka. Her passion for good food started early from watching her mother cook. She came to the U.S. after marriage. Ms. Shastri has an M.B.A. from City University in Seattle. Sunita had a dream about starting her own food company, which she did in June 2003 under the name Meghana Foods, Taaza brand (company named after her daughter). She sold the business in 2009 to move back to India for family reasons and moved back to Seattle again in 2012.

Sunita is very passionate about spreading the secrets of Indian foods.   She has shared some of her favorite recipes in her cookbook “Indian Vegetarian Delights”. Her background in vegetarian South Indian cooking adds a unique element to this book, since most Indian cookbooks tend to focus on North Indian recipes.

Sunita has been a VegFest cooking demo instructor since 2013. Her passion for food and the hunger issues around us is the reason for her to become a co-founder of a nonprofit called Eat Happy, which is involved in food rescue and recovery efforts in the Puget Sound area.  Visit to learn more about their impact.