Our Staff

Steven H. Simon

Founder of the Street Food Institute

In early 2005, Steve was hired to establish the New Mexico branch of The Ronald Simon Family Foundation and to implement the newly formed Simon Scholars Program. He served as the NM branch’s Executive Director between 2005 and 2011 and guided the Simon Scholars Program toward success. Simon Scholars began with one partner high school and five students in 2005, and now serves six partner high schools in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and accepts twenty new students per year, with very high levels of retention. The Program is currently near capacity with just under 120 active high school and college students.  What began as an experiment has changed the lives of many students and opened up doors that previously could have only be dreamt of.

Steve currently serves as the President/CEO of the Simon Charitable Foundation, and the Executive Director of the Street Food Institute. Steve has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from The University of Denver and a graduate degree in Psychology from Antioch University, Santa Barbara. He is an avid traveler and has previously resided in California, Hawaii and Sydney, Australia. Steve has worked in culinary and management capacities in the restaurant industry, and in sales and marketing in both the food and wine industries. Steve brings both a fresh and a global perspective to the local issues that challenge New Mexico.

 

David Sellers


Street Food Institute Program Director


Dave began his culinary career twenty years ago, while living in New Hampshire and completing a B.A in Philosophy from Plymouth State University. Dave started as a baker in an all-organic bakery where he developed a deep appreciation for sustainable, local, from-scratch cooking. These pillars became the basis of his cooking philosophy. Dave moved on to cook in San Francisco and then Santa Fe, where he spent ten years as chef of the venerable Santacafé. Dave then opened his own restaurant, Amavi, to critical acclaim, where both the cuisine and the wine focused on the Mediterranean region. Most recently Dave turned his culinary exploration to New England where he spent four years as the chef of Maxfish, delving deeply into the world of fish and farm-to-table dining. Regional cuisine and teaching have always been a top priority for Dave. He has traveled extensively in both Europe and the Far East researching local cuisines.

 

Bear Nash

Marketing Director
, 
International Travel Program Coordinator


Bear is a well-traveled culinary enthusiast. He began his work with the Street Food Institute in the beginning of 2011 as a key collaborator in the development of the Program. Bear has ten years of experience in the food service and hospitality industries. His interest in food, health, and international culture has led him to the far reaches of Southeast Asia and Latin America. Bear has worked and participated in business ventures in various Latin American countries, and is nearly fluent in Spanish. In his free time he enjoys music, sports, and outdoor activities.

 

Tina Garcia-Shams

Street Food Institute Director of Community Relations

Tina, a native to New Mexico, has worked with young people to help them discover their passions and become valuable contributors to their community for over twenty years. She has worked in both the private and public sectors, and brings a wide range of skills to the Street Food Institute. Tina worked as both a teacher and Community Engagement Director at Amy Biehl High School for thirteen years, where she created and implemented a successful service-learning program for staff and students. Tina also spent several years as a Human Resources Generalist and Human Resources Manager prior to embarking on her teaching career. She is enthusiastic about food and excited to bring her experience and skills to the Street Food Institute.

 

Eric Griego

Strategic Consultant

For the past two decades Eric has worked on economic development issues at the local, state, national, and international level. He has had an extensive political career, serving as an Albuquerque City Councilman, Chair to the State Economic Development Commission, Assistant Cabinet Secretary for Economic Development under Governor Richardson, and State Senator. Eric has championed green jobs and promoted issues affecting small and local businesses for over twenty years. Before leaving to run for Congress, Eric also ran New Mexico Voices for Children, the largest and most active anti-poverty advocacy, research, and policy organization focusing on children and families in the state.

Currently as a consultant, Eric works closely with local governments, foundations and community leaders to redevelop key parts of our city and to create jobs and grow local businesses in some the state’s hardest hit communities. He brings a wealth of experience, expertise, and a deep commitment to local economic development to the Street Food Institute.

 

Julian Griego

Lead Instructor / Chef de Cuisine, Albuquerque

Julian’s passion for the culinary arts began as a child learning to cook traditional New Mexican foods with his grandpa. This passion lead him to pursue a career in the culinary arts. After graduating with an A.O.S. degree from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Las Vegas, Julian spent time working as a cook in Las Vegas and eventually as a chef in many fine dining restaurants here in New Mexico. Julian has also worked as a Culinary Arts instructor at Central New Mexico Community College and is dedicated to teaching and instilling a passion for the Culinary Arts.