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
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… read more
Mike Selman joined the Culinaria team in the spring of 2011. I’m a transplanted New Yorker, who came to the DC area to attend American University. After a brief, but unspectacular career in radio, I began working as a recruiter. I have owned my own boutique recruiting firm for 45 years and am a nationally known executive recruiter. My wife Norma and I have two sons and have welcomed two daughters in law and four amazing grandsons to our family…. read more
Christine has been an instructor at Culinaria since 2011. She specializes in teaching our classes for kids, including the Culinaria After School series and classes for parents and children together. When developing classes for kids, Christine not only thinks about foods that will appeal to them, but also looks for tactile experiences and wacky factoids that will engage them, generate sharing in the classroom, and potentially pique the students’ interest to try something new…… read more
Born and raised in Mexico City, I confess I learned about eating spicy hot food in my late thirties. I always wanted to be a cook, but it wasn’t until 2015, while living in France, that I took on the adventure and trained in culinary arts, pastry, bread-baking, and the basics of wining at Le Cordon Bleu Paris….. read more
I was born and raised in Cairo Egypt, and, as a child, spent all of my holidays in Alexandria by the Mediterranean sea. It was there that I developed my passion for cooking and learning new recipes. My family immigrated to the United States over 30 years ago. .. read more