Robert Mills  Chef

Robert Mills was born in Wellington, New Zealand where he began cooking from a young age. His style of Pacific Rim cooking is largely the influence of where he grew up combined with his experiences traveling and working in various countries. 

At the age of 24, Robert made his first move out of New Zealand when he took the position as the Executive Chef at a resort on the island of Tonga. Looking for further experiences, he moved to London, England and a job as Sous Chef at London's prestigious Covent Garden Hotel. This is where he fine tuned his skills while cooking for some of the most famous people in the film and music industry. This is also where he got the inspiration for his next destination – Canada.

While living in Vancouver for a brief period, Robert had the pleasure of working at Raincity Grill. With the decision to settle in Toronto came the opportunity to work at one of the city's most notable restaurants, Rosewater Supper Club, as Sous Chef. The desire to establish a career in hotels is what drew him to then take on the role as Sous Chef responsible for Tundra Restaurant at the Hilton Toronto. During his 6 years with Hilton, Robert was promoted to the position of Executive Sous Chef.

Robert's current position is Executive Chef at the Thompson Toronto where he is extremely proud to be managing all aspects of the hotel operation from banquets and VIP events to the running of the 24 hour Counter restaurant.

John Placko Culinary Director, Modern Culinary Academy

John Placko


Chef John Placko has worked in Canada over the past 17 years in corporate food and restaurant organizations. Prior to Canada, he worked in Australia and Mexico, mainly in hotels and restaurants.

John's culinary competition activity spans multiple countries; Australia, Germany, Canada and France, where he competed in the Bocuse d’Or competition.  His passion lies in the culinary evolution most commonly known as molecular cuisine or molecular gastronomy. Over the past 6 years he has been invited to present, demonstrate and teach this modern cuisine to numerous culinary groups at GFTC, Humber College, George Brown College, The Cookbook Store and Nella Cucina.

John Placko's articles on the subject as well as other topics can be found frequently in Food and Hospitality magazine as well as Food in Canada magazine.  Modern Culinary Academy ( was recently created to drive awareness of molecular cuisine and educate chefs, pastry chefs and foodies about this evolution in cuisine. This is often referred to in the press as molecular gastronomy, avant-garde cuisine, research-driven cuisine and even techno-emotional cuisine.

John's best dining experiences ever? "El Bulli, Spain and Noma, Denmark. I'm not just passionate about molecular cuisine, I'm obsessed," he says.


Peter Sanagan  Chef, Instructor, Owner of Sanagan's Meat Locker

Peter Sanagan

Peter Sanagan is the owner of Sanagan's Meat Locker, a small butcher shop in Toronto's Kensington Market. The shop sells meat and poultry from small Ontario farms, and prides itself on offering the same quality one would find in any of Toronto's fine restaurants. Peter was a chef himself for fifteen years before using his experience and contacts in the local farming community to promote the province's vast bounty in the heart of the city. The shop's mission is to be a vital step in helping people make excellent meals.


Vanessa Yeung  Chef, Instructor

Vanessa Yeung