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. In the fall of 2016, Kaimana opened "Uncle's Hawaiian Grindz" in Fallston, Maryland, featuring farm-to-table Hawaiian food and authentic Aloha culture. Kaimana also travels the world as Chef Concierge of JUST. Kaimana is currently on sabbatical while he opens a number of restaurant and food-related endeavors.
Chericia Easton, a Washington, DC native, watched her mom cook large "soul food" dinners for family and friends and has been immersed in food ever since. She attended the Arts Institute of Washington, after which she took her first job at Dean and Deluca in Georgetown. She then cooked at the Park Hyatt and the W Hotel (Blue Duck Tavern and Jean Georges Steakhouse). Her focus is Southern food with a basis in classical techniques, as well as sushi preparation.
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.
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.
Susan Holt Susan is the co-founder and principal of CulinAerie. She 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.
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.
Pimnuch (Preme) Panma was born and raising in Bangkok Thailand. She holds a degree in Economics, but her passion and talent for food let her to CulinAerie in 2015. She gleans her Southeast Asian cooking secrets from her family, whose foods have made names in Thailand for generations. She previously managed a food factory in Thailand, and Union Kitchen Grocery in DC. Preme teaches classes ranging in topics from Thai street food to the elegant cuisine of central Thailand.
Rupen Rao, a resident of Washington DC, is an Indian chef instructor, cookbook author, and food entrepreneur. Originally from Mumbai (Bombay) India, Rupen has learned--and continues to learn--Indian cooking from his sole inspiration, his mom. His recipes are traditional, and the flavors are authentic. Rupen prides himself on knowing the history, geography, cultural influences, and folklore behind the dishes he makes. In a teaching career that has spanned over 15 years, Rupen has taught Indian cooking to more than 25,000 patrons in Washington, DC, New York City, Philadelphia, the Carolinas, and in France and Scotland. Rupen has written 3 cookbooks on Indian cuisine - Indian Cooking From My Mom, Popular Restaurant Dishes, and a vegetarian cookbook on traditional Indian holistic cuisine of Ayurveda, The Ayurveda Cookbook. Rupen has recently launched a line of delicious and authentic Indian curry sauces.
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.
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.