Meet Our Chefs
Meet some of the Chefs that help make our heart-healthy recipes possible.
Chef Norma Reni
Chef Norma was working in the transportation and logistics industry when she realized that she shared a loved for food with her mother, a professional chef.
She wanted to start a business to help working families answer the daily "What’s for dinner?" question, so she contacted the United States Personal Chef Association in Rio Rancho, N.M., originators of the personal chef concept.
She studied and trained there with before going into business for herself. Along the way, she has learned tricks and tips that make customers’ lives easier and help them save time and money by knowing how to cook ahead, freeze foods properly and cook quick meals after work.
Chef Norma also introduces shoppers to items they might not have used before, and she shares with them her kitchen philosophy: The love of food is like a journey; it must be shared with others to be fully enjoyed.
Chef Monika Sudakov
Chef Monika Sudakov came to the culinary field from a slightly untraditional background. While not formally trained in culinary arts, she earned a master’s degree in cultural anthropology with an emphasis on food and culture.
Her master’s thesis on Moroccan tea rituals was published in 2010. So was her cookbook “Let’s Party: Gluten-Free Entertaining for Everyone.”
Cooking began as a hobby, but has now grown into a passion.
Chef Monika owns the Chestnut Street Inn, an award-winning bed and breakfast and restaurant that features Mediterranean food made from the freshest available local produce, meat, honey and other ingredients.
Chef Monika is the recipient of the 2009-10 Lanierbb.com Awards for Best Chef and Best Educational Classes and the 2011 Lanierbb.com Award for Best Vegetarian Food. She has taught classes at the Bettendorf Hy-Vee since 2008 and became chef of the store in October 2010. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and enjoys bringing the unique and healthy flavors of the Mediterranean to the Quad Cities.
If you find a recipe at Hy-Vee.com or in Seasons magazine, it has passed the scrutiny of Hy-Vee’s Test Kitchen, which is staffed by a trio of trained food lovers with a collective background in food science and plenty of experience at the stove.
The test kitchen team experiments with ingredients, amounts, cooking times and techniques to maximize taste, ease of preparation and nutritional punch, whether it’s a sophisticated cedar-spiced pork entrée or a supercharged wings-and-dips tailgate spread.
Background: Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Education and Studies from Iowa State University.
Inspiration: Her mother teaches family and consumer science to middle-schoolers, and she encouraged Heidi to turn her natural talent in the kitchen into a career.
Background: Bachelor’s of science degree in Consumer Food Science from Iowa State University; bachelor’s degree in biology from Central (Iowa) College.
Inspiration: Armed with a biology degree, Shelly was looking to continue her education when she heard about ISU’s food science program and knew instantly that she wanted to pursue it as a career.
Background: Bachelor’s of science degree in Consumer Food Science from Iowa State University
Inspiration: She’s been a fixture in the family kitchen since she was tall enough to reach the counter. Her mother and grandmother taught her the importance of how to shop for food, prepare the meal—and clean up afterward.
Chef Staci Stengle
Chef Staci Stengle is from Yankton, S.D. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and has worked in restaurants, hotels and for caterers in New York City, New Orleans, Boulder, San Francisco, as well as in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Staci owned a catering business before she joined the Hy-Vee team in March 2010.
She says working at the store allows her to get customers excited about new food, different cooking styles and healthy eating.
As a child, Staci says, she used to get in trouble for playing with her food. Now she gets paid for it, and she loves every minute.
Chef Traci Reed
Traci attended the Le Cordon Bleu school of culinary arts, where she specialized in patisserie while earning an associate’s degree in applied science.
Traci began her career with Hy-Vee at the age of 16 and returned to two years ago after she finished school. She says she enjoys working at Hy-Vee because it is an employee-owned store. Besides, she gets to do what she loves to do and relishes the opportunity to be creative.
Her dream of being a chef began in 7th grade. Chef Traci uses the passion for food, making people happy and helping them share their special moments in life to turn her dream into a daily reality.