Tiasha Balland is a Wyoming native and holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.  She graduated in 2006 with a Culinary Diploma from the French Culinary Institute in New York.  Following graduation from FCI she worked for well-known boutique caterers Abigail Kirsch and Olivier Cheng in New York.  Additionally she’s worked in event management in cities across the U.S.  In the Washington, DC area, she cooked at Jaleo and instructed cooking classes at Sur La Table. 

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.  

Nichole Ferrigno holds a psychology degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was professionally trained at L’Academie de Cuisine, and then spent 9 years combined as a restaurant pastry chef, and then co-founder of Paisley Fig, in Washington DC.  She has since earned a certificate in holistic health coaching from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, spent a year on faculty at Maryland University of Integrative Health, and completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training.  Most recently, Nichole spent 10 years working as a culinary instructor at L’Academie de Cuisine.  In blending cooking with wellness, Nichole is committed to educating communities about healthy eating, gaining access to healthy foods, and living a vibrant life.

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 ( 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. 

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 the co-founder and principal of CulinAerie.

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.  

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.

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".

Theresa Souther holds a degree in English from Georgetown University and graduated from L'Academie de Cuisine's professional pastry arts program.  After working in restaurants, catering and bakeries, Theresa returned to L'Academie as an instructor in both its professional and recreational schools -- teaching skills to novice and seasoned bakers alike.  From 2009 to 2017, Theresa was the director and lead instructor of L'Academie's professional pastry arts program.

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.