Living Light International was founded by Cherie Soria, chef extraordinaire and teacher of vegetarian and raw vegan cuisine for more than 40 years. Dr. Ann Wigmore and Viktoras Kulvinskas, the mother and father of living foods, encouraged Cherie to spread her gift of teaching to create a legion of chefs and teachers worldwide. The intent of Living Light is simple: create a high standard of excellence for the certification of chefs and instructors of gourmet raw live cuisine.

Since 1998 we have trained many of the top chefs and instructors in the art and science of raw vegan cuisine worldwide, and we have hand-picked the highest caliber teachers and raw food chefs to be members of our staff here at Living Light Culinary Institute. We are confident that you will receive the best education in raw culinary arts in the world from this talented and dedicated group of culinary artists—we are proud of our team of well-trained chefs and instructors who are committed to helping our students achieve the standard of excellence we have always maintained at the school.





Kari Bernardi

Kari is the Director of the Living Light Culinary Institute. She is a Founding Director of the California State University Monterey Bay Farm-to-School Partnership Program. Kari has been instrumental in writing healthy school food policies, bringing fresh organic fruits and vegetables into schools, and teaching farm fresh nutrition education to students around the world.

For more than 20 years she has shared her teaching expertise to help people thrive on a plant-based diet and has taught students from 5 years old to 95 years young. She writes healthy school food policies that promote building school gardens and implementing salad bars. She teaches edible education in the local schools, farmer’s markets, Head Start Programs, the Boys and Girls Clubs, at hospitals, colleges, in recovery programs and at church events. Her company caters weddings and gatherings, and she also works as a private chef and instructor for public and private classes in raw, vegan culinary arts. Kari’s latest projects are a recipe book and working with a group to build local healing retreat centers.



Culinary Instructors



AliciaOjedaAlicia Ojeda


Born in Los Angeles where she was surrounded by the rich cultural and culinary heritage of her Mexican family. Alicia has had a classic culinary career spanning more than 25 years. Her roles have been varied, including Executive Chef for Dreamworks Studio, Managing Chef for Bon Appétit at Sony Music, and Executive Chef at Beets Cafe in Austin, Texas. She partnered with Dr. Doug Graham, teaching his Simply Delicious Culinary Skills program, and also has served as Executive Chef for the Woodstock Fruit Festival for the last five years. She currently spends time in Thailand as a retreat chef for Australian athlete Grant Campbell. A proud grandmother of three, Alicia is an example of radiant health, energy, and joyous vitality. She has completed two sprint distance triathlons and a 90-day Bikram Yoga challenge, and brings all of her professional and life experiences together to share her passion for healthful plant-based cuisine and fitness.


James SantJames Sant


As a lifelong professional artist, James has worked in just about every medium including clay art, sculpting, painting, textile art, set design, art administration, film documentary and photography. A serious industrial accident led him to discover the power of healing through a diet based on living foods. He has taken his life-long passion for the plant-based lifestyle and merged it with his artistic talents; becoming a certified gourmet raw food chef, raw pastry chef, as well as a yoga and chef instructor.

James is currently the Creative Director for Living light International and lead instructor for our Raw Culinary Arts Associate Chef and Instructor series.



Vinnette Thompson


A classically trained chef, Vinnette earned her culinary arts degree from the Culinary Institute of America and is also a graduate of the Living Light Culinary Institute, where she now teaches a variety of classes. Vinnette has two culinary passions, vegetarian cuisine and culinary education. A chef for over 25 years, she is currently Executive Chef of the Raw Food Underground and teaches culinary arts for the Palm Beach school district in Florida.



Terilynn Epperson width=Terilynn Epperson


Terilynn Epperson is a certified gourmet raw food chef and instructor. Her enthusiasm for the raw foods lifestyle has led her to move her family to Fort Bragg as Executive Assistant to Cherie Soria. Terilynn also produces promotional videos and teaches specialty classes during both the Associate Chef and Instructor Training and Raw Event Catering and Elegant Entertaining courses at Living Light.



Nutrition Instructors



Vesanto MelinaVesanto Melina, MS


Vesanto Melina, MS, Registered Dietitian has taught nutrition at Seattle’s Bastyr University and at the University of British Columbia, and is a government consultant. She enjoys keeping up with the current science on plant-based nutrition, making sense of complex and controversial topics, and then communicating in a way that is both entertaining and informative. Her materials and courses appeal to those without scientific training and also to a broad range of health professionals, including dietitians and medical doctors (MDs).

Vesanto is co-author of Becoming Raw, as well as a series (with dietitian Brenda Davis) that have become the classic texts on plant-based nutrition. Their books have received star rating by the American Library Association as “go-to books” on plant-based nutrition, won a REAL Book of the Year Award, and a Canada Book Award. Her books are now in 10 languages and with 750,000 copies in print.

Vesanto has published in The Lancet, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, and in Common Ground magazine (Canada).



Brenda DavisBrenda Davis


Brenda Davis, Registered Dietitian, is a leader in her field and an internationally acclaimed speaker. She has worked as a public health nutritionist, clinical nutrition specialist, nutrition consultant and academic nutrition instructor. Brenda is the lead dietitian in a diabetes research project in Majuro, Marshall Islands. She is a featured speaker at nutrition, medical and health conferences throughout the world.

Brenda is co-author of nine award-winning, best-selling books – Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition (2014), Becoming Vegan: Express Edition (2013), Becoming Vegan (2000), The New Becoming Vegetarian (2003), Becoming Vegetarian (1994, 1995), Becoming Raw (2010), the Raw Food Revolution Diet (2008), Defeating Diabetes (2003) and Dairy-free and Delicious (2001). She is also a contributing author to a tenth book, The Complete Vegetarian (2009). Her books are vegetarian/vegan nutrition classics, with over 750,000 copies in print in 8 languages. Brenda has authored and co-authored several articles for peer-reviewed medical and nutrition journals and magazines.

Brenda is a past chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association. In 2007, she was inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame.



petraschultePetra Schulte


Petra Schulte received her BA in Business from theHochschule München in Munich, Germany. She holds a single subject teaching credential in health and business and taught nutrition education in public schools for eleven years. She completed her training as a raw food chef at Living Light Culinary Arts Institute and received a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University. Petra is trained to teach the Physicians Committee “Food for Life” classes, which include healthy weight management, cancer and diabetes prevention, employee wellness, and kids health.

Petra is a nutrition educator working with a family resource center with funding through a California Department of Public Health SNAP-Ed grant. She teaches healthy weight management and diabetes classes in her local community. Petra helped get the Market Match program to the Fort Bragg Farmers Market where CalFresh recipients receive up to $30 extra in tokens per visit for fruits and vegetables when they use their CalFresh benefits at the market.

Petra feels very passionate about eating a whole food plant-based diet, which benefits people’s health, the well-being of animals and the environment to create a world where everyone has enough to eat.





Cherie Soria

Cherie Soria is the founder of Living Light Culinary Institute, and has been teaching gourmet raw vegan cuisine since 1998, and vegetarian culinary arts for more than 40 years. She is the author of several books, including the classic Angel Foods: Healthy Recipes for Heavenly Bodies and The Raw Food Revolution Diet: Feast, Lose Weight, Gain Energy, Feel Younger (co-authored with Brenda Davis, RD and Vesanto Melina, MS, RD.) and Raw Food for Dummies.

Students have come to study at Living Light Culinary Institute from over 60 countries and six continents around the world, and Cherie has earned the respectful title of “Mother of Gourmet Raw Vegan Cuisine.” She is a beautiful role model for her students, who admire her business skills and appreciate her gentle feminine energy and compassionate nature. Living Light Culinary Institute is renowned for its professional curriculum, experienced staff, supportive atmosphere, and the remarkable success stories of its graduates. Cherie’s goal has always been to spread the benefits of gourmet raw vegan cuisine around the globe by training teachers and chefs to inspire others.