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 all who want to learn the art 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 at Living Light Culinary Institute. We are confident that you will receive the best education 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

Living Light Director

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.


James SantJames Sant

Culinary Programs Director

Creative Director

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 & Culinary Programs Director for Living Light International and lead instructor for our Mastery of Raw Vegan Culinary and Presentation Skills series.


Culinary Instructors



Matt Samuelson

Culinary Instructor

Chef Matt is a natural teacher with more than 17 years of experience. He has worked internationally as a chef, instructor, and consultant in the Philippines, Bali, Peru, Costa Rica, Thailand, Japan, Australia, Lithuania, and Canada. He also worked as a personal chef for Hollywood celebrities Woody Harrelson, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Emily Mortimer. Matt was the Research and Development Chef for Blessing’s Alive and Radiant Foods dehydrated snacks and was instrumental in launching High Integrity Foods which produced Golden Bean Chocolate, a raw, organic chocolate bar. On the Mendocino coast, Matt has worked as the Executive Chef at Flow, introducing vegan and gluten-free cuisine to the menu. Matt’s affinity for gardening and foraging wild foods has led to his role as the head chef for multiple local farm-to-table events.




Terilynn Epperson


Terilynn Epperson is a certified gourmet raw food chef and instructor. Her enthusiasm for the raw foods lifestyle led her to move her family to Fort Bragg and work with Living Light. Terilynn also produces promotional videos and teaches specialty classes during both the Mastery of Raw Vegan Culinary and Raw Vegan Elegant Entertaining and Events courses at Living Light.


Nutrition Instructors


Vesanto MelinaVesanto Melina, MS

Nutrition Instructor

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 Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition and Express Edition 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

Nutrition Instructor

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 10 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

Nutrition Instructor

Petra Schulte received her BA in Business from the Hochschule in 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. She 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 Safe Passage, a family resource center in Fort Bragg, with funding through a California Department of Public Health SNAP-Ed grant. She teaches healthy weight management, cancer prevention and diabetes classes in her local community. In June 2017 she attended Dr. Esselstyn’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Seminar in Cleveland, Ohio and has taught classes on preventing and reversing heart disease following Dr. Esselstyn’s dietary approach. The newest class she developed is a very popular Blue Zone Longevity class that she teaches at the Mendocino Presbyterian Church in Mendocino.

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.