urbanCHEF was founded in 2005 when Chara Gafford sought a way to bring the hands-on cooking experience of traditional culinary school to the casual cooking classes she was teaching.

Our first location was in Houston's Third Ward, in the small building behind Chara's home. The classes held up to a dozen people in a kitchen designed with counter-space and stove access for everyone. When she decided to expand they moved to the Greenway Plaza location in 2012. Two large kitchens accommodate a total of up to 48 with separate dining room and patio seating. Our off-site events bring the culinary competition to you for groups of up to 100 guests. With a small but mighty team of formally trained chefs and culinary professionals we continue to be dedicated to providing 100% hands-on cooking classes for corporate groups, private parties, date nights, birthday parties and kid's classes. 

Chara headshot.jpg



After receiving her bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago she decided to pursue her passion for food and received her AAS in Culinary Arts from The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. She trained at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Chicago as well as with A la Baker catering company. Before launching Urban Chef, Chara owned Artisan Cakes, a specialty wedding cake company. Chara has been a volunteer with Recipe for Success and served as the co-president of the Houston chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier, an international association for professional women in the culinary industry. She currently serves on the board of The Catastrophic Theatre.



Chef Instructor

Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, her interest in cooking and the art of sugar began at an early age of five when she was introduced to cooking by introduced by my mother.  She first studied Civil Engineering but decided that her true passion was to become a chef.  After moving to Boston she received an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts from Newbury College. After moving to Houston she founded managed a wedding cake company earning "Houston's Best Wedding Cake Business" in 2007 and 2010. For the last three years she has been traveling and the world, teaching in France and Columbia and learning about food and their cultures. She loves teaching and enjoys turning food into art.



Chef Instructor

Texas born and bred from Waller Texas originally moved to houston 12 years ago went to school at Art Institute of Houston for an associates degree and made my way through best kitchens around the city such as Pass and Provisions, Tony's and Mockingbird Bistro.


Louisa Rich

Chef Instructor

Chef Rich has an extensive culinary background since starting the HCC culinary program in 2007. Her career began in Houston training as a Sushi Chef at Shimako Sushi Bar.

From there she expanded her knowledge of the culinary world by becoming a Chef De Partie (station chef) at The Tasting Room wine bar, and then a Banquet Chef, at Texas Safari Ranch, catering for large parties of over 2000 guests. Chef Rich eventually moved on to become a Food Service Director with Sage Dining, where she planned and orchestrated delicious meals for faculty and kids at some of Houston’s finest private schools. That’s is not where her career ends… She was also a Concept Chef at The Egg Roll Factory in Cypress, Tx and a Menu Consultant for D’ Vine Wine.

Chef Rich enjoys serving others through food, such as: helping family and friends with meal planning, food budgets and time saving cooking techniques. She also enjoys things other than food, like going to the beach, gardening, spending time with loved ones. She currently lives in Houston TX with her two teenage children.



Facility Manager

Aurelius explored a number of different career paths before landing in the food industry.  His work includes working on a farm in Maine and landscaping for the second largest garden cemetery in the country. Since moving to Houston in 2008 he has worked as a manager, prep cook and server in restaurants, catering, hotel banquet halls, and pizza shops. He is passionate about customer service.