What is Tasting Week all about?

  • Education of children’s sense of taste and appreciation of flavors
  • Transparency and educational information on products, their origin, their mode of production
  • Transmission of skills
  • Encourage behavior around food consumption as part of a healthier lifestyle .


Palo Alto Tasting Week was created by a group of Bay Area parents who believe that educating children about taste is the best way to get them to love food and at the same time fight obesity.

Our Volunteers

Rebecca SchollRebecca Scholl-Barbier, a Palo Alto parent of four children in the Palo Alto Unified School District, is the daughter of American parents who moved to France in the 1960s after falling in love with French food. She grew up going to neighborhood farmer markets with her parents, frequently joining them to eat in great restaurants and watching her father cook for friends. She moved to Palo Alto with her husband, Joel, 13 years ago.

Rebecca works as Client Managing Director for Xerox Corporation. She acts in a French theater group and loves to enjoy delicious food with her family and friends. She is part of the Health and Wellness committee at Juana Briones Elementary school and chairs the International Fair and Potluck at Gunn High school. Her favorite food is a ripe organic California tomato with olive oil from Nice and flower of salt from Camargue.


Joel BarbierJoel Barbier describes himself as an interesting mix of Algerian and Flemish descents. He grew up in Paris, France in a large family where all important events took place around a bustling table. One of his favorite tasting memories is his grandmother’s couscous and almond honey cigars from Algeria.

Joel and Rebecca met in Vancouver, BC while studying abroad on a business school exchange. He is now a Director at Cisco’s strategic consulting division. He is also on the board of Congregation Kol Emeth and loves to sail his catamaran on the Bay. His favorite food is smoked duck breast.


Carla MatlinCarla Matlin grew up in a small town in the Midwest and loved to help her parents plant and tend their backyard garden. By winter, however, fresh produce was mediocre at best and dinner vegetables usually came out of a can. It was only after she moved to California in 1986 that Carla’s passion for food and gourmet cooking took off. Now she loves to test new recipes on her family and friends. Carla lives in Palo Alto with her husband and three children and works as a marketing consultant.


Aurelia Setton Aurelia Setton grew up in Paris and moved to California 10 years ago to start a business in the wine industry. As part of Nadalie, a manufacturer of wine oak barrels, she started a brand of oak products to produce large quantities of wine reducing the cost of oak while keeping the natural flavor and tannins of toasted oak. She grew this successful business from Calistoga, California to Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Chile and Australia. Aurelia tasted wines all around the world, advising winemakers on how to develop authentic oak flavors and aromas in their wines.

After completing her MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business, Aurelia joined Calera, a clean energy Silicon Valley startup. She has a great nose for wine (and tequilas!) and enjoys giving educational workshops for friends on various wines she discovered around the world. Her favorite food is the home-made chocolate fondant from her grand-mother’s recipe.


Florence ThomasFlorence Thomas – “I am a “cassoulet de canard” married to a “beurre-sucre crepe” who discovered that life without cheesecake was much, much harder! My three little pumpkins were born under the Californian sun, with its mix of fusion food, language and cultures, and they don’t mind a Thanksgiving turkey stuffed with foie gras. Most of all, I appreciate the power of a good California red wine with memorable dishes and the company of my friends… Then, of course, I have to run, swim, walk and dance.”    :-)


Arizona BiltmoreLea Bowmer spent her early life surrounded by an extensive and boisterous family in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky. Family gatherings had picnic tables laden with bowls of home cooked vegetables, fresh fruit pies and delicious fried chicken. Almost all of the foods were grown by family members on their farms or in backyard gardens. Given her large family’s near obsession with food it is not surprising that Lea studied Nutrition and Food Sciences in college.

As a Registered Dietian, Lea worked in hospitals and out-patient settings in Kentucky, New York City and Hong Kong. Lea loves living in Northern California and enjoying its fantastic array of fresh fruits and vegetables, local cheeses and outstanding wines. An ideal meal for her is a family BBQ with grilled herbed free-range chicken, caprese salad, fresh sweet corn, a warm slice of peach pie and of course a glass of Pinot Noir. Bon Appetite!


Aurelie TeyssierAurelie Teyssier grew up in France and recently moved to California. She is passionate by Gastronomy. With her friend Nathalie, she enjoyed creating a workshop specially conceived for 6th graders to learn about the amazing culture, history and taste of Mediterranean food.



Judith VacchinoJudith Vacchino grew up in Buenos Aires and moved to California 20 years ago to pursue a PhD in Chemistry at Stanford University. Today Judith is an accomplished Marketing Executive in the biotechnology industry. Judith loves cooking and experimenting with new flavors, textures and spices as it brings her close to her days in the laboratory!

Her workshop “Spice it up!” for kindergarteners explores the senses of smell and taste. Your children will smell 5 different “mystery herbs and spices” and learn to recognize them in a number of tasty treats.


Jian MaJian Ma grew up in central China (Shaanxi) during the cultural revolution, when everything was rationed. Later on he lived in Guangdong, a city with an international reputation for its Chinese cooking.

From China, Jian moved to New Zealand and lived there for several years. Like the Maoris, he learned on a never-ending beach of ninety miles, how to use his bare feet to dig out shellfish from the sand with ease, knock them open and eat them on the spot. Now with his famiy, he lives in Palo Alto, working for a company which provides free, high quality lunch. But he still cooks on the weekends. His philosophy on food is: Open your mind and enjoy your senses. Be hungry!


One thought on “About

  1. Hi Joel,
    Your plan for Palo Alto Tasting Week and the long term goals are admirable.

    I would be pleased to lend a helping hand to your project. As a Francophile and member of French Heritage Society, you can imagine I have a great love and respect for the culture of food, its growing, preparation, and enjoyment throughout many cultures.

    Dori Bonn
    Mill Valley, CA

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