Do you have a favorite Instructor at Culinaria or want to explore our classes by Instructor?
Just click on the names below and see what each Chef/Instructor has to offer!
Stephen P. Sands
Co-founder and CEO
Food and cooking have been a central part of my life from an early age. My maternal grandmother, a.k.a. Nonna, was a professional chef in New York. She, my grandfather, and my mother immigrated to this country from Italy, just as Italy was invaded by the Nazi forces. They were on one of the last ships to leave Livorno, IT and came to America, leaving everything behind. They entered through Ellis Island, settled in New York, and that was where my mother began her culinary journey, learning how to cook from my Nonna. … read more
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,… read more
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… read more
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 worked at the U.S. Embassy in Athens. She later moved to Italy with her family and it was there that she started her professional culinary training. … read more
Pastry Chef David Collier grew up in Virginia in a family where food was always a high priority. He took advantage of summers spent in the rural Tidewater region of southern Virginia, in his grandmother’s garden and kitchen which gave him a chance to develop a love of food in its most natural and basic forms. .. read more