MEET THE TEAM
Michelle Mannix, Founder
Prior to her life in hospitality, Michelle held positions in Corporate Marketing, Human Resources and Business Development. After a lay off she switched gears to pursue her true passion - cooking and being around food.
Shortly after, Michelle attended the New School’s Culinary Arts Master Class where upon completion she was selected to assist the Chef instructor for another semester. This was followed by some time as a line and prep cook in Danny Meyer’s Café 2 in the Museum of Modern Art prior to founding and opening Ted & Honey, a beloved made from scratch cafe in Cobble Hill, and Parker Red - a farm to table catering and events space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard with her brother. She ran Ted & Honey and Parker Red from 2008 -2016 just prior to the launch of Cook Space, a culinary studio in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, a space designed to develop culinary confidence through letting go of recipes and cultivating one’s own skills and talent through learning by doing, curiosity, creativity, and charting your own journey in the kitchen. The Concept of Cook Space is based on a non-fiction book in development tentatively titled - A New Mindset In the Kitchen.
Cook Space has enabled the path of creativity to further expand upon our mission, and we are excited to be developing our Life Beyond the Recipe arm around the launch of the SeIZE Your DAYs planner, designed to assist you in prioritizing and organizing a span of 12 weeks with deeper intention, purpose, meaning, and action. A thought provoker and natural talker- Michelle has led talks on re-inventing one’s self, and forging one’s own career path, as well as planning with purpose at GOOP, LeadDog Marketing Group, within Cook Space, and Cherry Bombe University.
Eliza Zweig, Studio Programming + Events Manager
Eliza spent five years in the fashion industry and found that she was using most of her free time dining out, examining menus, and reading restaurant reviews. After some soul-searching, she made her first foray into the food industry working as a server at The Bar Room in midtown Manhattan. It was here that she got her first taste of how fast, scrappy, hands-on, and creative working on the floor of a restaurant can be. And that first taste was delicious.
As a server, Eliza was also exposed to the process of planning and hosting private events where she fell in love even farther with hospitality industry. As someone who has always enjoyed entertaining others, it became obvious that this industry was the perfect fit.
After a fortuitous series of events, Eliza has landed at Cook Space and can’t wait to share our studio with you!
Nini Nguyen, Founding Culinary Director
After graduating from LSU business school, Chef Nini had an inkling that she might want to be a chef. So she traded in her calculator for a spatula, and got a job at Sucre, a New Orleans chocolate shop. It was love at first sight. From there she worked in various New Orleans kitchens including Coquette on Magazine, before deciding to pursue her dreams in New York City. She landed her first job at Eleven Madison Park. Then she worked for Dinner Lab, expanding the company across the US. She also worked with Michelle on Parker Red and Ted and Honey. She then took some time off to travel, explore making pottery and spending time with family.
Now she is back and at Cook Space.
When she's not cooking, she's working on her ceramic company, The Baker's Clay. And when she's not doing that, she's probably at the Beach. Mostly though, she enjoys sharing her love of and passion for cooking!
Lara Southern, Founding Creative Director
Raised in London until she turned 18, Lara’s first “proper” job was at her local gastropub, where she bussed tables, poured pints and spent her breaks scribbling stories on the back of cocktail napkins.
Upon graduating from Brown with a degree in English Literature, she dove head first into life in NYC. After three years at an education start-up, she changed course to pursue her passion for food, landing at Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory, (where she took full advantage of the employee discount). Most recently, Lara has spent the past two + years at Sunday Suppers as Event + Studio Director, surrounded by beautiful food and the people who created it.
Throughout, Lara has continued to pursue her love of writing, producing freelance pieces for Bustle, Roads & Kingdoms and Ambrosia Magazine, among others.
Her somewhat itinerant professional experiences have brought her here to Cook Space, an environment that marries so many of her passions but, most importantly, her love of building community.
Tom Coughlan, Culinary Manager
Our Culinary Manager Tom Coughlan is a third generation chef. Growing up in the back of his grandparents restaurant he gained a passion for food at a young age. After attending business school at Fordham he attended culinary school at the Institute of Culinary Education.
He has worked in various levels of restaurant and food establishments in New York City. Notably working at Txikito, La Vara, and Seamstress. Most recently he was the opening executive chef for Sunken Hundred. Now he is focusing on bringing unique culinary experiences and classes to Cook Space.
He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Becca, dog Jeanie, and cat Peavey.