Secreting Redientyeg- logo women

Meet Our Team

Steffanie Beekman

Founder & Cooking Experience Coordinator


My food love journey began in a culturally diverse elementary school, where I quickly developed a fascination for global flavors. Trading lunch items with friends and eagerly exploring the snacks they brought from home fueled my early curiosity. As I matured, my interest in culture and global cuisine evolved, leading me to discover the transformative power of travel. While international trips weren’t part of my childhood, my first venture outside of Canada at 17 proved to be a life-changing experience.

The diverse ways of life, vibrant colors, enticing aromas, varied geography, and, notably, the people and their cuisines, profoundly influenced my perspective. Over time, I’ve come to understand that food is more than just sustenance—it carries narratives about our identities, origins, and serves as a powerful catalyst for bringing people together.

In the course of my career in non-profit project management and community development, I had the privilege of connecting with remarkable women who contributed to community events through their culinary skills. Their stories, often intertwined with the food they shared, inspired me to establish Secret Ingredient YEG. This initiative seamlessly merges my passion for community, dedication to social justice, commitment to female empowerment, and personal enthusiasm for cooking and culture. Through socially conscious culinary experiences, Secret Ingredient YEG serves as a platform to spotlight the incredible women and the ‘hidden’ food scene here in Edmonton.



What is your favourite food?

I absolutely love Ghanaian Jollof Rice. I learned to make this from my husbands (who is from Ghana) friend, many years ago. It’s good alone but is the *best* when eaten with a salad, boiled eggs and grilled meat or meat stew.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

I have a VERY long list of destinations I would like to visit but Thailand is currently at the top of my list. I dream of Island hopping, jungle trekking, learning to cook with locals, and experiencing the amazing culture and history.

How did you learn to cook?

Both my mother and father began cooking with me and my brothers at a young age. They believed that this was a fundamental life skill…. And I’m so glad they did! I also grew up with a Croatian grandmother that was ALL about great food. I feel like good food and cooking was always an integral part of our lives and as I got older, and experienced different types of food and flavours, I enjoyed experimenting and learning new techniques and recipes from others whenever I could.

The SIYEG Cooking Experience Instructors

Esther Tran - Secret ingredient YEG


I was born and raised in the beautiful country of Vietnam.
75% of Vietnam is coastlines and marshlands which makes wet rice the main food source, along with seafood. During the wars (of which I only heard about), men and women carried with them rice balls (a little rice wrapped in banana leaves or lotus leaves, salt, beans, and/or sesame) as their main food staple for the day.
Today, we still often eat the same rice balls, but they are now more attractive with different types of meat, eggs, and vegetables. Every time we eat traditional dishes made from rice, we have a sense of belonging and are filled with emotions for our homeland. Now, Vietnamese dishes have gone all over the world because wherever Vietnamese people go, they bring the taste of their homeland with them. Famous for breakfast are Pho (CNN voted it one of the 50 best dishes in the world in 2011), Bun Bo Hue, Banh Mi... along with these dishes are delicious rich sauces made from seafood. What I really love about the cuisine of my homeland is that it is balanced in taste, nutritionally balanced, rich in green vegetables, and very low in fat.

What is your favourite food?

I like salads, beef vermicelli, and vermicelli.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

At each stage of my life, I have different dreams. When I realized the value of a woman, I wished I could become a wife, a mother, and a farmer. From my dreams, I am drawing my life in that direction: taking care of my children, cooking meals for them, and helping others (since I am a Christian, this is very important to me). I am grateful to say that I have been doing what I dreamed of. Maybe when I'm old, 70 years old, if I'm still alive, I'll dream differently

How did you learn/start cooking?

I started cooking when I was 10 years old. My mother taught me to start with simple dishes like boiled vegetables and boiled eggs. As the oldest child in a family of 6 siblings, I was responsible for cooking and taking care of them so that my parents can go to work. Since then, I have loved cooking and food is a source of joy for me. How I want to cook, present, and taste my dishes is up to me. It is very interesting and I love to make food that is fresh, tastes good and looks beautiful.



I am first generation born in Canada representing Fiji Islands where my family is from. We are considered Indo-Fijian (meaning of Indian descent; our ancestors settled in Fiji Islands as indentured labourers in 1800s).

Fiji is located in the South Pacific, made up of Indigenous Fijian Islanders and Indo Fijian people living across the islands. Indo-Fijian families primarily speak in Fiji Hindi and have many similar dishes as India but with our own twist!


What is your favourite food?

I always have a love for Caribbean and Mexican food. But my favourite food is anything my mom makes, sweet, spicy, savory!


What is at the top of your bucket list?

Many things! More travels; South East Asia, Africa, Europe.

Also doing community work for my favourite basketball players’ Sports Foundation.


How did you learn/start cooking?

Interest in cooking started when I was very young around 7-8. I watched & learned from family members and my mom - she made it very easy and still teaches me small things to this day.

The first thing I learned was roti; kneading and rolling it out - trying to perfect the shape of a circle, but many times it came out the shape of Australia....



I’m Thea Taylor-Johnson, and I’m thrilled to share the vibrant flavors of Jamaica with you in our cooking classes. Born and raised in Westmoreland (close by Negril, a popular tourist destination), this beautiful island nation has not only shaped my culinary expertise but also holds a special place in my heart.

The rich tapestry of Jamaican culture, with its diverse influences from Africa, Europe, and Asia, is woven into our cuisine, creating a symphony of bold spices and tropical ingredients.

What is your favourite food?

My all-time favorite dish has to be the iconic Jamaican Jerk Chicken. The perfect blend of aromatic spices, fiery Scotch bonnet peppers, and the slow-cooking method creates a taste that’s both explosive and comforting. It’s a culinary masterpiece that represents the heart and soul of Jamaican cooking.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

On top of my bucket list is a culinary adventure around the world, starting with the enchanting island of Bali. I dream of immersing myself in diverse food cultures, learning new techniques, and bringing those global flavors back to enrich our own Jamaican culinary traditions. Exploring fascinating countries and savoring their unique dishes is a lifelong dream I’m eager to fulfill.

How did you learn/start cooking?

My journey into the world of cooking began at a young age when I took on the role of preparing meals for my siblings. It was a labor of love that ignited my passion for the art of cooking. Since then, I’ve honed my skills, blending traditional Jamaican recipes with my own creative twists..

In my classes, I aim not only to share recipes but to cultivate a genuine love for cooking. I believe that the kitchen is a place of joy, creativity, and cultural expression. Together, we’ll explore the essence of Jamaican cuisine and beyond, creating dishes that tell stories and evoke cherished memories.



I was born and raised in Greece, with roots from Istanbul and Smyrna. I Moved to Edmonton in 2011. In Greek culture food is more than sustenance. It's about culture, comfort, family and life itself.

When Greeks taste something delicious, they have a lovely phrase <Yia sta heria sou> which translates to <best of health to the chef>.

What is your favourite food?

My favourite food is calamari and homemade french fries, enjoying them while overlooking the Aegean sea.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

I hope to buy a small house in the complex of 46 mountainous villages in Greece, called Zagorochoria and run my own little boutique hotel where I can host people from all over the world and introduce them to the traditional Greek cuisine.

How did you learn/start cooking?

I learned to cook for my family, but it turned into a passion for me. When you grow up in a Greek family your mother chases you around the house with a spoon.


I am from Taiwan; a beautiful island got its name of “Formosa” in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers for its stunning landscapes. Taiwan has been part of the Chinese Empire-Qing dynasty, Japan-colony, and now democracy of Republic of China: ROC, not People of Republic of China: PRC. Taiwan has it’s unique fusion of cultures, breathtaking scenery, diverse cuisine, exciting city life and well-developed hospitality industry.

I was born in Vietnam; both of my parents were from Canton province of China, so my mother tongue is Cantonese. Our family moved to Taiwan where I was raised and grew up before immigrating to Canada. My culinary influences are Taiwanese, Cantonese, Chinese and Vietnamese.


What is your favourite food?

I enjoy a variety of cuisines from around the world and the one I like the most is Stinky Tofu! It is a popular street food in Taiwan. It smells but tastes so good. It’s cooked in spicy hot soup and served with assorted vegetables, or deep fried in oil and served with garlicky soy sauce and pickled cabbage


What is at the top of your bucket list?

The European countries of France, Italy and UK are on the top of my bucket list. Exploring the culinary scenes in these countries would provide me with a wealth of inspiration and new experiences.


How did you learn/start cooking?

I learned cooking at a very young age from hanging around my parents’ restaurant. My father was a professional and licensed chef in Taiwan for more than 30 years and he made the best Cantonese BBQ pork, chicken, duck, and sausage. My mother was a natural home cook who made the best Vietnamese spring rolls, sticky rice and so much more in my opinion. Both were my inspiration in cooking.


I was born and raised in Edmonton with a Ukrainian background.

Ukraine is a small country located in Europe by the Black Sea with a deep Ukrainian heritage in which the culture and foods have been spread across the globe. A large population of Ukrainians who immigrated to western Canada were my grandparents back in the late 1800's.

One of the biggest impacts the Ukrainians had was the shared love of food with Canadians. From the worlds biggest Kobasa (sausage) in Mundare or the beautifully decorated Pasanka (Easter egg) in Vegreville, Ukraine culture has reached far. The most popular Ukrainian food in Canada is the pedaheh commonly known as the pyrohy. These were a staple for many Ukrainians especially during times of hardship as they were simple to make. For my family growing up these were common to eat at a meal and especially at family gatherings.

Over the years the stuffing has changed to fit a more western palate such as using bacon and cheddar. But they are still a beloved dish enjoyed throughout the world. I am looking forward to teaching my cooking techniques and secrets to make a great Ukrainian pyrogy and more.

What is your favourite food?

What isn't my favorite food? Hard decision. My favorites are Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese and of course Ukrainian. There are plenty more.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

As I have now retired, I have a couple of places I would like to visit. My biggest things on my bucket list would be an Alaskan Cruise and an African Safari; along with spending time with family and friends.

How did you learn/start cooking?

My mother started teaching me at an early age to cook even though it started with how to cook Kraft Dinner. Through the years growing up I spent many hours in the kitchen with my mom and if it wasn't with mom it was an aunt showing me the ropes to cooking. My mom would entertain 30-40 people in her home and meals needed to be prepared so I was learning at an early age how to help out. No matter how simple it was I could see the passion my mom had in her eyes for cooking and that is how I inherited her love for cooking.


I was born in Ghana (which is in West Africa) then moved to Nigeria. While I lived in Nigeria, I learned a lot about their culture and food. After 10 years, I moved back to Ghana, and this was when I decided to learn more about Ghanaian dishes.

Ghanaian cuisine is very diverse, with staple foods like rice, maize, yam, cassava, and plantains forming the basis of traditional dishes. Street food culture is vibrant, offering a wide range of snacks and treats. Ghana's food is influenced by various ethnic groups, resulting in a diverse array of flavors and regional dishes. Hospitality and the sharing of food are central to Ghanaian culture.

What is your favourite food?

I am from the capital city of Ghana, Accra, which is located on the Atlantic ocean, so I will have Kenkey (made from fermented maize dough, steamed and typically served with soups, stews, or sauces) along with fried fish and special homemade hot pepper sauce.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

I hope to start beauty school for youth, a place where girls will come to explore their talents and achieve their goals.

How did you learn/start cooking?

I learned to cook from my mother. My mother always said “I don’t want your in-laws to bring your food back in a bottle to show me because of bad cooking!”


I feel blessed to carry within me the Venezuelan culture, where I was born and raised, but also the cultural heritage of my parents, who come from the Middle East, specifically from Syria and Lebanon

What is your favourite food?

The list is long as I love to eat!! But in general, I love foods made with dough. In Venezuela my favourite breakfast are Tequenos and Empanadas.

Likewise, my favorite Arabic food is Fatayer, which consists in a pie that can alternatively be stuffed with spinach, meat, cheese, potato, pumpkin, and many other flavors. My favorite Salad is Tabbouleh, and my favourite dessert is Knafe bil Jebni, a combination of cream with fine semolina cooked and layered with cheese and topped with sugar-based syrup.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

Someday, I will be standing up on a stage talking to a big audience, about the achievements and challenges I overcame in my life as an Immigrant. I wish to be remembered as someone who inspires people to recognize the best in themselves.

How did you learn/start cooking?

I learned how to cook since I was a child. My mom is a great cook and she used to let me be her assistant in the kitchen. I remember I used to watch a cooking TV show, where they taught one recipe a day, and I used to write it down to cook it with my mom after. I baked my first cake all by myself at the age of 8 years old. Later in life, I turned my love of cooking into a business when I founded Arabika Gourmet and began catering to share my love of food with others.


My name is Natividad but my friends and family call me Nati. I am originally from Mexico- I was born in the Chiapas, a town in Southern Mexico but was raised in Mexico City since I was 2 years old. I came to Edmonton around 12 years ago with my husband and 2 sons. Now, we are happily stuck here in this lovely city and Edmonton is my second home. Mexican culture is very strong for me, because it has amazing traditions rooted in family and food.

Everywhere you go in Mexico there is history told regarding the folklore and different food dishes. I want to be able to share food from where I was born- things beyond the well known Mexican street food. I remember Christmas’ with my family- especially my grandmother, who was central in our family. We prepared Christmas food altogether, and food was always involved in all of our family gatherings.

What is your favourite food?

I have a few favourite foods; I love salads, I love Mexican food (my favourite being chicken mole) and I like vegetable soups.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

Definitely one of my best dreams is to travel and have the chance to get to know other countries, their culture, food and history. The country at the top of my list right now is Turkey!

How did you learn/start cooking?

My mom was a great teacher for me, she was an amazing cook and I learned her secret recipes. She was very good at cooking Mexican food and when I was very young, I started cooking some Mexican dishes! I learned how to cook and prepare some of the most popular and famous dishes from Mexican cuisine like guacamole, enchiladas, tacos, and more, but I also learned other more unique dishes more common to where I grew up.

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