Culinaria Cooking School

Founded in 2008, Culinaria Cooking School brings together professional chefs and wine experts who want to share their passion for the culinary arts with the community.

Conveniently located in the heart of Vienna, VA, this state-of-the art facility will feature modern equipment for use by instructors and students.

The team includes (from left to right) Chef and CEO Stephen Sands, Office Manager Stefanie Sacripante, Chef and VP Pete Snaith, Chef Brian Batsel, Chef Robyn Alexander, Chef Bonita Woods, and Wine Director John Peters.

“Our classes are built around teaching the fundamentals of cooking,” says Chef Stephen Sands. “They appeal to novice chefs, seasoned cooks, and beginners. 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.”

Culinaria Cooking School Chefs Stephen Sands and Pete Snaith Are Featured on Channel 10

Culinaria Cooking School Chefs Stephen Sands and Pete Snaith Are Featured This Week on Channel 10 from Inkandescent Public Relations on Vimeo.

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Chef Robyn Alexander's Green Tea Ice Cream

Need a little pick me up? Try this delicious recipe by Culinaria Cooking School Chef Robyn Alexander that features the subtle flavor of green tea. (Note: Matcha, which is Japanese powdered green tea, can be found in the tea section or the freezer section of many Asian grocery stores.)

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Explore the Secrets of Greek Cuisine

By Chef Marilena Leavitt
Introduction to Greek Cooking
Culinaria Cooking School

Welcome to the Greek table! I am excited to introduce Culinaria Cooking School students to an array of classes based on fresh, seasonal ingredients central to Greek cuisine.

March 18: Introduction to Greek Cooking. Students will learn to prepare foods that are the heart of any taverna menu, from tzatziki with zucchini fritters, to savory skewered meatballs with pita, to Greek peasant salad, to delicious almond cookies.

April 1: Cook with Fillo Dough. Students will learn to cook and bake with this versatile ingredient to make spanakopitakia, creamy chicken fillo pie, and mouthwatering baklava.

April 14: The Foods of the Greek Islands. In this class, students will make mini sesame bread rolls, olive tapenade, baked fresh fish wrapped in parchment paper, coriander potatoes, fennel and orange salad, and walnut spice cake.


Cheers to a Hearty, Healthy Valentine’s Day!

By Elise Museles
Mindful Meals and More
Culinaria Cooking School

Despite our fast-paced world, we need to slow down, prepare a home-cooked meal, and spend quality time with those we love.

Eating consciously and making simple lifestyle changes will not only release you from the endless cycle of dieting, it will calm and relax you so that you can enjoy the wonderful life that you have created.


E-NEWSLETTER: Pull Out All the Stops This Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! As I mentioned in my New Year’s Eve newsletter, I think it’s a shame to drink this effervescent gift from the gods only on fancy holidays. That said, I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the joy of love than with a glass or two of champagne on February 14.

To add even more fun to the day, Chef Stephen Sands and I worked to pair some lovely champagnes with a menu of delicious dishes: Mussels with Avocado-Chili Cream; Steamed Corn Custard with Lobster; and Mixed Berries with Champagne Zabaglione.

Don’t know which champagne to pair with each course? Click here to view my primer, Champagne Supernova, which provides tips for choosing delicious, affordable bottles of bubbly.


IN THE NEWS: Culinaria Cooking School Chef Stephen Sands on WUSA 9

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E-NEWSLETTER: Hiring a Personal Chef Doesn't Have to Be a Fantasy

When I was a young boy growing up in an Italian family in New Jersey, food and cooking were an important part of life.

I spent countless hours in the kitchen watching my mother and grandmother prepare family recipes, which filled our home with the scent of old-world goodness.

As a teenager, I learned to prepare these wonderful traditional dishes so that I could share them with others. I then went on to study architecture in college, and learned design skills and how to make a perfect presentation.

I now blend my passions as a professional chef through my firm, Roberto’s Creative Cuisines, which provides in-home meal preparation and cooking classes, as well as caters dinner parties and corporate events.


IN THE NEWS: features Culinaria Cooking School, "Made in Vienna"

January 19, 2011, — reporter Christine Neff featured Culinaria Cooking School in an article that explained CEO / Chef Stephen Sand’s belief anyone can cook and cook well – with the knowledge of basic techniques. “The techniques translate from country to country, recipe to recipe. If you have those, it doesn’t matter what you attempt,” Sands said.

Neff wrote, “This chef and retired engineer has been teaching cooking classes to people of all skill levels for many years now and claims to have never repeated a recipe in his courses.”

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E-NEWSLETTER: How to Get Your Kids Out of a Food Rut

By Chef Robyn Alexander
Director of Programs for Youth and Families
Culinaria Cooking School

Kids are usually more interested in eating an item if it’s something that they’ve made themselves. So, get busy with them in the kitchen. Here are six tips that work with my students and four children:

1. Work together to make their favorite restaurant meals from scratch. Cooking experiences make food more memorable, even if the meal is not cooked perfectly.

2. Let kids decide. Make personal pizzas on whole wheat dough with your own homemade red sauce, and let kids choose their own toppings. Sauces are a wonderful way to use “stealth” to make sure the healthy veggies are incorporated into a diet. Carrots, red peppers, onions, and even spinach have been known to make it into pizza sauce at our house.

3. Get silly with food. Make polka dot mashed potatoes (peas mixed in with mashed potatoes) or use skewers, shape cutters and fancy toothpicks to present a visually appealing meal.


E-NEWSLETTER: Culinaria Celebrates New Year's Eve in Style With Champagnes Under $50

Happy New Year’s Eve! In anticipation of the big celebration on Friday night, you’ll find tips for picking the perfect bottle of bubbly in this week’s newsletter.

Personally, I think it’s a shame to drink this effervescent gift from the gods only on New Year’s Eve.

So I make a point to serve champagne and sparkling wines year-round, because bubbly sets the perfect mood for any celebratory event – from birthdays and anniversaries to graduation and Super Bowl Sunday.


E-NEWSLETTER: Culinaria's Chef Pete Snaith gives us comfort food for the holidays

Attention all carnivores: In this issue of our weekly newsletter, you’ll find three recipes that are sure to please.

They came from my cookbook, “The Street Chef,” and I do hope you’ll enjoy preparing this hearty, simple meal.

Rack of Lamb Stuffed With Brandied Apricots
Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Grilled Asparagus With Butter and Lemon


IN THE NEWS: Tune in to WUSA9 at noon on Thursday, December 16 and see Culinaria's Chef Stephen Sands

Tune in to WUSA9 at noon on Thursday, December 16 at noon when Chef Stephen Sands of Culinaria Cooking School will give a demonstration of Hazelnut Linzer Torte With Fresh Raspberries.

For more great recipes, sign up for one of Culinaria’s December classes. And be sure to buy a gift certificate for all of your family and friends for classes in the upcoming winter session. From Italian to Sushi, Baking to Knife Skills, each class will help improve your cooking. Click here to buy a gift certificate.


E-NEWSLETTER: Culinaria's Chef Stephen offers three healthy recipes for the holidays

When you have a house filled with guests at holiday time, the last thing you want to do is spend the whole party in the kitchen. On the attached pages, you’ll find three of my favorite appetizers. They are easy to make, and can be prepared ahead of time. Plus, they are all packed with veggies.

Be sure to sign up for one of Culinaria Cooking School’s December classes, which are listed at the right. Most of our classes are three-hour sessions that run about $65 each.


E-NEWSLETTER: 10 pages of Thanksgiving Recipes from Culinaria Cooking School

Believe it or not, pumpkin pie, cornbread, roasted turkey, and other traditional Thanksgiving fare weren’t actually part of the original meal enjoyed by the Pilgrims. Back in 1621, potatoes were unavailable, and butter and oil were scarce. There were no ovens, and roasting on a spit over a fire took hours. But the pilgrims wanted to celebrate the end of the drought that revived their crop of corn and fruits with their neighbors, the Wampanoags.

In the spirit of collaboration, the Native Americans brought five deer, adding to a meal of stewed boiled fowl, lobster and fish, corn and wheat breads, dried fruits and pumpkin, boiled vegetables, and water to drink. About 150 people enjoyed the feast, which lasted three days. Now that’s a celebration!

Like the Pilgrims, we have much to be thankful for here at Culinaria Cooking School. More than 400 friends, family members, and new students turned out to our grand opening on Nov. 7, and we thank you all for that incredible show of support.

As our gift to you, click on the numbers at the top of this newsletter to find eight pages of Thanksgiving recipes, plus our holiday wine tips (page 10).


IN THE NEWS: The Vienna Connection writes, "Cooking School Opens in Heart of Vienna"

November 11, 2010, Vienna Connection — Soon after Culinaria Cooking School opened its doors on Nov. 7, Vienna Connection reporter Donna Manz wrote an article noting:

“Hundreds of friends, family and supporters turned out to celebrate with the owners and staff and share. An array of sweet and savory finger foods and bottles of flowing wine didn’t hurt the camaraderie, either.

“Between the two co-founders, there is more than thirty years of culinary experience, and many of the guests go back 20 to 30 years with co-founders Stephen Sands and Pete Snaith.”

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Culinaria Thankgiving Feast 2010

Culinaria’s Thanksgiving Feast 2010

For starters:
Parsnip Soup w/ Truffle Oil
Pair with:

The main course:
Brined Spice-Cured Roast Turkey
Pair with:

On the side:

  • Brussels Sprouts with Apple, Bacon & Pine Nuts
  • Cranberry Pinot Noir Relish
  • Red-Wine Braised Cabbage and Onions
  • Roasted Sweet-Potatoes Spears with Turkey Bacon Vinaigrette
  • Sausage Chestnut Stuffing

For dessert:
Delicata Squash Tart
Pair with:

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E-NEWSLETTER: Don't Miss Culinaria's Grand Opening: This Sunday, November 7, 12-4 p.m.

Bring your friends, bring your family, and bring your appetite to Culinaria Cooking School this Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. for our Grand Opening Bash!

Our address: 110 Pleasant St. NW, Vienna, VA 22180
Please RSVP: 703-865-7920

We’ll be serving: Polpettine with Pomodoro Sauce (little meatballs) •Dumplings w/ Dipping Sauces •Caramelized Onion w/ Gorgonzola in Fillo Cups •Flank Steak Crostini •Flat Bread w/ Mushroom & Gruyere •Mini Margherita Pizza •Cup Cakes w/ Strawberry or Chocolate •Smoked Salmon Mousse in Cucumber Cups •Italian Vino-Sausage Bites •Bruschetta w/ Olive Tapenade & Roasted Peppers •Southwestern Bruschetta •Baked Stuffed Brie w/ Cranberry Relish •Sprouted Lentil Dhal in a Pastry Shell

Check out our brand new digs and meet our chefs. You’ll find their bios below.

Also below, you’ll find a list of our fall classes, including individual sessions on cooking regional Italian dishes, tapas from Spain, and crepes. There is also an array of wine classes to choose from, and plenty of classes for teens who will learn to make Chinese food, cookies and quick breads. You’ll also see that we have classes for couples, Ladies Lunch Bunch, team building opportunities for businesses, and more.

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday! – Chef and CEO Stephen Sands, Office Manager Stefanie Sacripante, Chef and VP Pete Snaith, Chef Brian Batsel, Chef Robyn Alexander, Chef Bonita Woods, and Wine Director John Peters.

Visit us online: • Send us an email:


ADS: Culinaria Cooking School ad for Washingtonian Bride & Groom magazine

Text by Hope Katz Gibbs,
Design by Jerry Lustan,

“The secret of a happy marriage is finding the right person; and you know it’s right if you love to be with them all of the time. But I wouldn’t keep him around long if I didn’t feed him well.”Julia Child

At Culinaria Cooking School, we want your marriage to last a lifetime. Whether you are recently engaged, a newlywed, or a couple of old lovebirds hoping to spice up your culinary skills — our chefs will help you unlock new flavors and aromas, and teach you the secrets of preparing fine food.

From couples dinners to wine classes, bachelorette parties and more, sign up today for a fabulously fun cooking class that is sure to bring you closer. And do bring your friends. This is the gift that keeps on giving. Cheers to your happiness!

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Prepare for Thanksgiving by making these fabulous soup recipes

Parsnip Soup With Truffle Oil

What you’ll need:

2-3 T. unsalted butter
1-2 lbs. parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 medium leek, washed well and chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 small stalk celery, chopped
2 quarts chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
2 cups heavy cream, or low-fat sour cream, or yogurt, as an option
salt & pepper, to taste
finely grated nutmeg, to taste
2 T. white truffle oil

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

What you’ll need:

1 cup washed, sliced leeks, white and pale green parts only
3 T. unsalted butter
1 T. minced garlic
12 cups diced yellow onion
6-7 cups roasted butternut squash
3 cups granny smith apples, peeled and roughly diced
2 T. toasted spice rub
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream
salt & pepper, to taste
3 tsp. olive oil
1 large peeped apple, sliced thinly for garnish

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IN THE NEWS: Culinaria Cooking School recipe featured on

October 4, 2010, — Chef Stephen Sand’s recipe for Celeriac Bisque with Shiitakes is the recipe of the month for the online nutrition website

Editors explain: “It is probably fair to say that celeriac is one of the most ignored root vegetables in North America. Its unglamorous appearance does not do its flavor justice – its crisp texture, as well as its celery and parsley-like flavor, is a great addition to any dish that goes well with celery. October is the time to try this strange-looking root vegetable, as it is generally available from October through April.

Read more here:, and click on the link below to Read More, where you’ll find the recipe for this delicious Fall dish.

To sign up for a class at Culinaria Cooking School, visit

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E-NEWSLETTER: September News from Culinaria Cooking School — Welcome!

Welcome to the first issue of our monthly newsletter, Cooking with Culinaria. Each month, our chefs will bring you new and exciting cooking tips and recipes. And our wine director John Peters will provide insights and ideas about wine.

Click “Read More” below to find a list of our fall classes, including individual sessions on cooking regional Italian dishes, tapas from Spain, and crepes. Teen classes include learning to make Chinese food, cookies and quick breads, and summer camp. There will be classes for couples, team building opportunities for businesses, and more. Also below, you will meet our team of professionally trained chefs who have years of experience in teaching the fundamentals of cooking.

We look forward to welcoming you into our kitchen at our grand opening in October. Look for details on the date and time in our next newsletter.

From all of us here at Culinaria Cooking School, Salud!Chef Robyn Alexander, Chef and Co-owner Stephen Sands, Chef and VP Pete Snaith, Wine Director John Peters (pictured above), Chef Bonita Woods, Chef Brian Batsel, and Office Manager Stefanie Sacripante

Visit us online: www.culinariacookingschool.comSend us an email:


BE INKANDESDCENT MAGAZINE: Want to learn more about wine? Here's a primer by John Peters, wine director, Culinaria Cooking School

By John Peters
Wine Director
Culinaria Cooking School
Opening in the fall of 2010 in Vienna, VA

Be Inkandescent Magazine • June 2010

Having grown up in the wine industry, it is hard to figure out where I should begin talking about this vast subject of wine.

I toyed with starting with the history of this grand industry, which dates back to the Middle Ages. Or, perhaps a better place to begin would be to discuss the culture and food that seamlessly bring it all together — from the farmer who works the land, to the scientist who works wine magic in the lab.

However, that’s not really the best way to learn about this passionate, powerful topic. Rather, to fully understand wine, all you need to do is pour yourself a glass and begin to discover all of its delicious nuances.

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