By Stephen Sands and Pete Snaith
Co-owners and Chefs
Culinaria Cooking School
Photo (right) by Steve Barrett, includes Chef Robyn Alexander, Chef and CEO Stephen Sands, Chef and Executive Vice President Pete Snaith, and Wine Director John Peters
We cannot wait to open the doors to Culinaria Cooking School this September. This has been a dream we’ve worked hard on for years — and as we post this article in August, we are pleased to announce that our building is nearly ready for students to come for a visit, so stay tuned for an announcement about our Open House.
Our Philosophy: Cooking Well Opens Your Heart
All of our chefs have held jobs in the business world for the last few decades, but in our hearts we always wanted to be chefs. So in our spare time, we studied, cooked, studied some more, and finally found a way to bring our vision to fruition.
We know there are many passageways that lead to our hearts. If art, literature, and music are the gold and silver filaments in the exquisitely loomed tapestry of life, then food and the culinary arts are the bright silken threads woven through the entire fabric.
The pleasures of the table are essential. Almost any meal, from the humble to the refined, is an opportunity to share the best of nature’s bounty in the company of family and friends. There isn’t a holiday, religious or secular, where food is not center stage.
That is why we place importance on using seasonal ingredients and proper techniques. Our chefs rigorously adhere to a traditional approach to cooking well, while warmly embracing new ideas about food and wine.
Our Mission: Teaching the Fundamentals
Our professionally trained instructors have years of experience teaching the fundamentals and techniques of cooking that are taught at a professional cooking school. Not only do our classes emphasize food preparation, but we also teach the presentation aspects of the dishes you serve, and offer tips on how to entertain with style and class.
For those who want to get out for the evening to enjoy the company of friends, or meet new ones, Culinaria’s theme-based classes showcase regional and ethnic foods from around the world and provide a warm and inviting atmosphere. By learning the proper techniques, you will start to look at recipes as a template to cooking, allowing you to open your imagination and tap into your creativity.
From learning how to best use the knives in your kitchen, to picking the perfect wine to pair with your meal, our vast array of classes teaches you the “how and why” behind the recipes you love. We offer a welcoming and professional environment where students can learn new techniques, improve on the ones they already have, and expand their knowledge about fine dining and wines.
Our Classes: Your Palate Is as Unique as You Are
That’s why we are offering such a variety of classes, so our students can embark on a culinary journey that takes them through many countries and diverse cuisines. You will learn the secrets of how to unlock the flavors, aromas, and traditions as you celebrate the world of food and wine.
From knife skills to desserts, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about cooking great food.
Cooking Classes include: Knife skills, Cooking 101 (for beginners), Soups, Stocks & Sauces, Advanced Classes, Culinaria Laboratorio, and Baking & Pastry.
Regional, Ethnic and International Classes: The best way to learn about a culture is through its cuisine. Sign up to learn how to create dishes from around the world.
Classes include: International Cuisines- American, Asian, French, Italian, Thai
Series Classes: Flavors of Tuscany, Regions of Italy, California Cuisine
Individual Sessions: “The Dinner Party,” Sushi, Pasta, Pizza
Wine, anyone? Our wine director John Peters is a master at teaching students the fine art of enjoying wine. His mantra is “wine is fun,” and John doesn’t let anyone forget that wine is to be shared with friends and family. His common sense, easy-to-understand explanations make it a pleasure to fully understand the complicated world of wine. [See his WINE column this month about pairing wine and food. It’s fabulous.]
Wine Classes include: Introduction to Wine, Varietal Classes: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, International Wines: Italian, French, Spanish, South American, Wine from the U.S.: California, Oregon, Washington State, and Wine and Food Dinners.
Specialty Classes include: Child and Parent Classes, Classes for Teens, Couples Cooking Class, Ladies Lunch Bunch, Seasonal and Holiday Entertaining, Classes with Well-Known Chefs, Weekend Workshops.
Private Events: Try a group cooking class for your next corporate or private event — Birthday Parties, Bridal Showers, Corporate Events, Private Parties, and Team Building.
Summer Camp: Our half-day camp for kids and teens goes beyond typical summer camp fare. Campers explore international and American cuisines in programs that teach them essential cooking skills, and how to maneuver in today’s modern kitchen. Plus, our enthusiastic staff helps them learn how fun cooking and entertaining can be.
Our Belief: Cooking Well Is Not Difficult.
Anyone can cook like a professional chef. You simply need to understand the basic techniques required to prepare any cuisine — from classic American to Asian, French and Italian. It simply requires a little time and dedication, and before you know it, you’ll be cooking like a professional.
Stay tuned for future articles including next month’s tips on the 10 things every good cook needs to have in their kitchen. Bon appetite.
About Stephen Sands
Co-founder and CEO
Culinaria Cooking School
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 L’Academie de Cuisine’s part-time professional program in 1996, and began teaching as a chef/instructor at the school. There, he developed curricula and original recipes for classes he taught at L’Academie. Stephen taught both demonstration and participation classes, and also instructed L’Academie’s private parties and team building events.
In 2004, Stephen formed Capital Food Partners, LLC, along with his business partner Pete Snaith, as a cooking school and catering company. He left L’Academie de Cuisine as a chef/instructor in the spring of 2009, and retired in March 2010 after working for 35 years as a nuclear engineer working for Westinghouse, Exxon, and NRC to pursue the development of the Culinaria Cooking School.
About Pete Snaith
Co-founder and Executive Vice President
Culinaria Cooking School
An engineer by training, Pete began his cooking career in 1999 when he started taking classes at L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, MD. There, he met his business partner Stephen Sands, wine expert John Peters and Chef Robyn Alexander. It is also where he took his first 12-week intensive cooking course, following by a 20-week professional course. Pete then worked as an assistant at L’Academie for 3 years.
In 2007, he trained at the Culinary Institute of Florence, Italy. There, he learned from some of Europe’s top chefs — including Chef Andrea Trapani, who also worked at the James Beard House in New York City; and Chef Jonathan Krinn during the opening of his Restaurant 2941. Pete also was asked to teach at the Institute, and has subsequently taught cooking classes at The Culinary School of the Philippines, Sur la Table in Arlington, and La Cuisine in Alexandria.
Pete is also the author of The Street Chef, a cookbook that sold in the U.S., Canada, England, Russia, Philippines, and Italy.