Our Team

Stephen P. Sands (Co-founder and CEO)

Stephen P. Sands (Co-founder and CEO)

Stephen began his culinary career in 1989 as the lead assistant for Francois Dionot, the director and founder of L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, MD. Stephen assisted both L’Academie chefs, and visiting guest chefs, ensuring the execution of classes for the chefs was seamless; and assisted students in the participation classes with instruction and techniques during classes. He graduated from...

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Pete Snaith – Co-founder and Executive Vice President

Pete Snaith – Co-founder and Executive Vice President

In 1999, Pete began his cooking career taking classes at L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, MD — and, he says, it opened a new world for him. This is where he met his business partner Stephen Sands, and attended both the 12 week and 20 week professional courses. Pete was also an assistant at L’Academie de Cuisine for 3 years. He also trained at the Culinary Institute of Florence in 2007. There,...

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Brian Batsel

Brian Batsel

A former Navy officer, Brian Batsel developed a love of cooking and exploring new cuisines during his Navy travels throughout the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and the Pacific.  His final sea tour on a patrol boat in Key West led him to appreciate catching and cooking the freshest seafood, while enjoying the tropical ingredients and influences found in “Keys Cuisine”.  Brian left the Navy in 1990 to...

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Debbie Delardi

Debbie Delardi

Debbie is a self taught cook, cake decorator and baker and has wanted to be involved in the culinary arts since she was a teenager. Her love of baking and cooking started at a young age alongside her family preparing meals and desserts for small occasions and large family gatherings. Debbie learned how to prepare classic Italian dishes along with her Grandfather’s own creations. Debbie said “so...

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Marilena Leavitt

Marilena Leavitt

Marilena Leavitt was born and raised in Greece in an environment where fresh, healthy and seasonal food played a central role.  Upon receiving her degree in Economics at the University of Athens, she started working at the U.S. Embassy in Athens. She later moved to Italy and it was there that she started her professional culinary training.  While living in Rome, she attended culinary school...

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Monica Marshall

Monica Marshall

Monica is a freelance instructor who teaches cooking and art classes for children, teens and adults in Virginia and Maryland.  Monica graduated from the University of Notre Dame and worked as a marketing manager before returning to school to pursue her interest in the culinary arts. After graduating from L’Academie de Cuisine she gained multiple years of professional experience through her work...

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Diana Nash

Diana Nash

Diana Nash left a career in Event Planning, Marketing and Business Development to pursue her dream of becoming a chef.  Diana has always had a passion for cooking and creating recipes.  Prior to her professional career in the high-tech industry, she worked for many restaurants in her early twenties.   In 2002, Diana studied Culinary Arts at Kendall College in Chicago, IL where she graduated...

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Michelle Scholtes

Michelle Scholtes

Michelle Scholtes is a DC native with a knack for cooking and an obsession for tasty local restaurants. She developed a passion for food at a young age, while watching Julia Child on Saturday mornings, and taught herself how to cook during college (after one too many hot pockets). Michelle auditioned for the NBC show Food Fighters in 2013 and made it through seven rounds.  The techniques she...

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Mike Selman

Mike Selman

Mike Selman’s love affair with food and cooking dates back to childhood.  He learned basic culinary skills by trial and error in college.  His passion and expertise developed as he cooked for family and friends and has done private catering for the past twenty years.  He has been a teaching assistant at L’Academie de Cuisine for nine years and graduated from the 20 week Fundamental Culinary...

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Elizabeth Teuwen

Elizabeth Teuwen

Elizabeth grew up in a food-loving household, with a health-obsessed dietician for a mother.   She rebelled by becoming a pastry chef (after a decade-long detour into a law career).   Her transition from lawyer to baker began in her own kitchen, catering birthday parties and neighborhood functions, which inspired her to go pro.   She graduated from the Pastry Arts program at L’Academie de...

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Christine Wisnewski

Christine Wisnewski

Christine’s family tree includes a butcher and a green grocer. She is sure her genetic history and her family’s food-centered traditions are the reason for her love of food. An early win in a cake-decorating contest kicked off Christine’s interest in baking. She eventually went on to work in an Italian bakery in New York, which further fueled her love of bread and pastry, and taught her the...

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Ellen Wulchin

Ellen Wulchin

Born into a large family, Ellen acquired her love of cooking at home while preparing meals for an active and lively crowd with diverse tastes and preferences. It was a natural progression to pursue her love of food at the highly regarded Culinary Institute of the America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York where she earned a degree in Culinary Arts. Ellen also gained a greater appreciation of the value...

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Sherry McCrary

Sherry McCrary

After retiring from a rigorous career as a Law Office Manager for a high energy firm in Tysons Corner, Sherry was looking for a new home where she could marry her love of cooking with her superior office management skills. “I love, love, love to cook!” says Sherry, “You might say that I have a passion for cooking. It’s fun for me. I enjoy every aspect of it from watching it on the cooking...

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