Instructors

Dave Arnold is a graduate of the Culinary Arts program at Johnson & Wales University; he also studied the art of specialty cakes with Colette Peters, creator of ground-breaking cake designs such as the crooked cake and the gift box cake.  He is a chef and culinary instructor and has spent a number of years in the restaurant industry, ranging from the high-volume corporate restaurant to executive dining and catering.  He taught for many years at L'Academie de Cuisine in both the professional and recreational programs.  Dave is certified in sous-vide, the innovative slow-cooking method used in high-end modern cuisine.  Dave runs Precision Knife Sharpening in order to help cooks realize their potential in the kitchen using tools that perform at their best.

Tim Carman is a food writer for The Washington Post.  Previously he was the food columnist for The Washington City Paper, penning the "Young and Hungry" column.  He served as managing editor for The Houston Press, where he edited James Beard Award-winning food writer Robb Walsh.  Tim has written about food for Maxim and The Houston press, and is a frequent commentator on food for WAMU-FM.  He studied fundamental culinary techniques with Susan Watterson at L'Academie de Cuisine.

Daniele Catalani was born in Pistoia, Italy, just north of Florence in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. He decided at 13 to make cooking a profession, and after graduating from culinary school started travelling through Europe working in some of the most famous kitchens in Cannes, Munich, Basil, London and Paris, finally arriving to Roberto Donna’s Galileo kitchen at the age of 20.  Daniele initially started at Galileo Restaurant as a line cook and earned the Executive Chef position just three years later at age 23 (the youngest in the kitchen).  He has participated in important culinary events in the United States, from James Beard dinners, celebrity chef wine and food festivals, organizing Oscar reception parties, to participating in the battle against Chef Morimoto in the first season of Iron Chef.  In 2009 he opened his own restaurant, Toscana Café and Catering, where he started serving traditional Italian cuisine and catering for major political receptions. In partnership with Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, he currently organizes food and wine tours to Italy. 

Kaimana Chee was born and raised in Hau'ula, HI a small town on the north shore of O'ahu.  His multi-ethnic background has heavily influenced his culinary style and passion for cooking in fusing traditional Polynesian and Asian cooking techniques with western dishes.  In 2007, Kaimana opened Sava's Lunchwagon a food truck that served small communities on the windward O'ahu.  In 2011, His culinary dreams came to light when he auditioned and was selected out of 30,000 home cooks nationwide as one of the top 100 in America to compete in Gordon Ramsay's Masterchef on Fox that premiered in June 2012. In 2014, Kaimana appeared on Season 4 of Food Network's Guy's Grocery Games in which he was featured as a chef contestant and performed an original song. In May 2015, he was Macy's featured chef of the Cherry Blossom Festival and a few months later competed at the National Museum of the American Indian's Iron Chef Contest. Kaimana won the coveted title of the Smithsonian's NMAI Native Chef of the Year. In January 2016, Kaimana made an appearance on Alton Brown's Cutthroat Kitchen. Kaimana owns a small catering company, Kaimana's Katering, where he specializes in Hawaiian Lu'au, Sushi Making Parties, and Asian Fusion cuisine and there is talk of him opening his own restaurant soon. 

Tom Finigan DWS, CSW is the principal of VineCrush Consulting LLC, which is a wine, beer and spirit education source.  He came to Washington D.C. in 2005 after two years as Wine Director and Manager of James Beard Award winning celebrity Chef Ming Tsai’s sole restaurant, Blue Ginger.  During his time there he also served as the wine and beverage consultant for seasons 2 and 3 of Ming’s acclaimed PBS cooking series “Simply Ming” as well as the companion cookbook “Ming’s Master Recipes”.  While in D.C. Tom was the Wine Director of the award winning Butterfield 9 restaurant downtown.  He is currently a Senior Sales Consultant with Washburn Wine Company of Baltimore, Maryland managing Washington, D.C. and an Instructor with the Washington Wine Academy.  Tom has the prestigious Diploma in Wines and Spirits (DWS) from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET).  In addition, Tom holds the WSET Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits, the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) with the Society of Wine Educators, The Rhone Valley Master with the French Wine Society and has completed the Napa Valley Vintner’s Association’s “Napa Rocks” program.  He also has extensive knowledge of Belgian beers and breweries and has toured through Belgium tasting and learning.

Amanda Greene is a food scientist on a mission to share the science of cooking in a fun and interesting way.  She has a BS in Food Science from the University of Maryland and years of experience on the lab bench creating new foods for grocery store shelves.  In Amanda’s "Food Lab" classes, you’ll become a scientist for a day and experiment with cooking. Amanda is a lifelong lover of food, cooking, and farming. She is now the principal of Decoding Delicious, which brings food science to the home cook.  She is also a contributor to the Huffington Post.

Eliza Gonzalez has presented authentic Mexican cuisine to DC since 1999, focusing on regional cuisine, contemporary Mexican cuisine and the relationship between food and culture. Eliza is self taught and got her start when she organized a 3-year -long culinary program with the Mexican Institute, where she met and cooked with renowned chefs Patricia Quintana, Zarela Martinez and Susan Trilling. Eliza has lectured for the University of MD and cooked for the Award Ceremony of the Orden del Aguila Aztca for the Mexican Embassy, the DC PR campaign for Don Julio Tequila, the USDA Harvest Festival and many private and corporate events. She also owns and runs her own catering business (www.elizagonzalez.com) where she has services as a personal chef as well as cooking parties and cooking classes. Born and raised in Mexico City, Eliza goes back regularly for first-hand research on culinary and folk traditions, with her husband Fabrice and her children Isabelle and Santiago. 

Rachael Harriman has an impressive resume detailing experience in some of the world’s most notable restaurants.  A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, Harriman worked for acclaimed chef Thomas Keller for six years, rising the ranks at The French Laundry in Yountville, California and helping to open his acclaimed New York City restaurant, Per Se, in 2005.  Harriman also gained invaluable experience in Paris, working as chef de partie at the Michelin-starred Helen Darroze, and later at the celebrated Maison Blanche under chefs Jacques and Laurent Pourcel.  In 2006, Harriman was tapped by Chef Eric Ziebold to join his CityZen team as sous-chef, and took the helm at Sou’Wester a year later.  Currently she teaches and consults and spends her time happily with husband Mark Politzer and young son Oliver.

Susan Holt holds BA and MA degrees in English literature from the University of Tennessee and Georgetown University, respectively, and graduated from L’Academie de Cuisine’s two-year Culinary Career Training Program in 1989. Susan held the position of executive sous-chef for two years at Georgetown’s famous 1789 , and worked at The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton for two-star Michelin chef Gerard Pangaud. She was an instructor at L’Academie de Cuisine for twelve years, teaching such classical technique-driven classes as bouillabaisse, puff paste, risotto, and soufflés. She has conducted classes at Sur la Table, The US Botanic Gardens, and The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, as well as having appeared in The Washington Post, and on Fox Morning News and Good Morning Washington.  Susan is a principal of CulinAerie, along with Susan Watterson.

Wendi James holds a BA in hospitality management from the University of Illinois.  She received a Cuisine and Pastry Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris in 1997 and has completed advanced courses in chocolate and sugar from The French Pastry School in Chicago.  Since 1997, her work experience includes stints at Restaurant Gerard Besson in Paris, Restaurant Daniel (New York), The Inn at Little Washington, and Charlie Trotter's.  

Jessica O’Neal is a farmer’s daughter from South Carolina currently working as a personal chef and cooking instructor in Washington, DC. Jessica’s main mission is to show people that southern food is not all deep-fried and covered in butter; but can be fresh, healthy and seasonal. She fell in love with teaching while leading classes at Charleston Cooks!, and started JLOkitchens in 2012. Since starting JLOkitchens; Jessica has hosted Feastly dinner parties, cooked for an NBA player, taught students global cuisine with Common Threads and performed cooking demonstrations for Relay Foods. She currently teaches cooking classes at CulinAerie and creates specialty meals as a personal chef for families around the DC metro area.

Amanda Weaver-Page, DWS is a professional chef, wine expert and world traveler.  She is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York and has cooked for various restaurants, including Cape Cod’s Chatham Bars Inn and DC’s Mandarin Oriental.  As a student of the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, Amanda successfully completed an Advanced Certificate of Wine and Spirits, with merit.  Amanda has also attained the rank of CSP (Certified Sake Professional).  She continued on to complete WSET’s Level 4 Diploma program, one of the most advanced courses of wine study in the world and a prerequisite to qualify for Master of Wine. This program is designed to give specialist knowledge of the principal wines and spirits of the world combined with commercial factors and a thorough system for the professional evaluation of wines and spirits. Amanda is the former Retail Manager for Screwtop Wine Bar in Arlington, VA and was previously the General Manager of Best Cellars in both Arlington and DC.  She now serves as a wine representative for Kysela Pere et Fils, an importer and distributor. She frequently travels for work and pleasure, enjoying some of the best wine and food regions across the globe. While she has lived all over the U.S. as a Navy child, she has resided in the DC area for 11+ years with her beer aficionado husband, Ben, and their son Jasper.


Gerard Pangaud at 28 years of age became the youngest chef ever to win two Michelin stars for his eponymous restaurant in Boulogne. Chef Gerard then moved to New York to win three stars from the New York Times as Executive Chef of Aurora. Later he came to Washington DC and the Ritz-Carlton and eventually Gerard’s Place on McPherson Square which he owned and ran for many years. Happily Chef Gerard will now be sharing his knowledge and love of cooking as part of CulinAerie’s foundational staff.

Preme Panma was born and raising in Bangkok Thailand and has been involved in the food industry her entire life. Prior to DC, she worked at Joak-Raejiw, PriceWaterhouse Coopers and Unilever in various capacities. She recently hosted the first-ever White House Travel Bloggers Summit Dinner at Hostelling International DC. Preme also writes a food blog to promote home cooking and food diplomacy. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Thammasat University and was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkley. She is also a member of The National Press Club.

Rupen Rao is a DC-based Indian cook.  Originally from Mumbai (Bombay) India, Rupen has been in the US for ten years.  He has been teaching Indian cooking over the past 9 years.  He learned from his sole inspiration–his Mom.  Hence, Rupen's recipes are both authentic and functional.  He uses shortcuts and techniques that he's learned over the years to make Indian cooking simple.  Rupen teaches at Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma in and around Washington DC.  He recently released his first cookbook "Simply Indian–Home Cooking Classics" and writes recipes for Atlanta-based Indian magazine "Rivaaj".

Susan Watterson has twenty years of hands-on experience in many facets of the culinary arts: hotels (The Jefferson and Sheraton Premiere), restaurants (Old Angler’s Inn, Obelisk); catering (Design Cuisine, Fete Accomplie, Susan Gage Caterers) and education (L’Academie de Cuisine). She has taken the helm a number of times over the years, as Managing Director of L’Academie/Bethesda, Catering Director of Fresh Start Catering and as Executive Chef of Café Bethesda.  Along with Susan Holt, Susan is a principal of CulinAerie.

Joe Yonan is the food and travel editor at the Washington Post, where he writes the award-winning “Cooking for One” column. Joe’s work also earned the Post the 2009 and 2010 James Beard Foundation’s award for best food section. His work appears in three editions of the "Best Food Writing" series. Before coming to Washington, he was a food writer at the Boston Globe, where he had previously been travel editor. He is a 2000 graduate of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.