Our story began in January 2015 when we found each other in a graduate course on
design, innovation, and food systems at the University of California, Berkeley.

With a shared passion for health, food, and social equity, our team embarked on a semester-long journey to apply the principles and methods of design thinking to understand the barriers that individuals face in bringing good, home-cooked food to the table. The insight we gained through this process led to the birth of Cooking Simplified.

We believe strongly that improving the health of our communities and food systems is going to take creativity and bold action from across sectors. Cooking Simplified is our entrepreneurial contribution to a broader movement of policy makers, social scientists, activists, community leaders, and people from all walks of life who are committed to a shared vision in which food is more equitably accessed and consumed by all people.


Michelle Azurin


Michelle is passionate about everything food-related. She seeks to better understand how the intersection of culture, food policy, and the built environment impact public health. She hopes to work more closely with communities disproportionately affected by poor diet-related health outcomes by addressing issues pertaining to food access and food insecurity. She also spends most of her free time posting pictures of food to Instagram.

Sara Draper-Zivetz


Sara loves food because it affects every individual, every day. It has the power to bring people together, make and conjure memories, create jobs, prevent illness, and promote wellness.  With a background in community development and city planning, she is passionate about creating just urban food systems where people living in all places have access to fresh and nourishing food. She is thrilled to be co-leading Cooking Simplified's  contribution to this effort! 

KatherinE Ming Luo


Katherine is a self proclaimed foodie who loves not only to make food, but to eat it too. Having struggled with her weight, she became extremely passionate about nutrition. She plans to study nutritional science and business to spread the knowledge and importance of healthy eating, and is excited to be a part of the Cooking Simplified team!

julia Piccinini


Julia is a food, health and wellness fanatic! Her educational and employment experiences have all focused on nutrition in many of its forms. She loves to cook and promote healthy lifestyles.  Cooking Simplified is a great combination of both of these things. Julia is delighted to be a part of the Cooking Simplified team!

We would also like to acknowledge Ben Maring, our beloved former chef-in-residence, as an honorary team member! Ben has now moved on to bigger and better things, saving lives as a physician and contributing to the Kaiser Food for Health blog. Cooking Simplified would not be where it is today without his hard work and genius recipe creation.