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Instructors & Staff
Each L'Academie instructor is an acknowledged expert with skills to impress. Many also teach at our professional culinary and pastry school.
Founder & Director
Chef Francois Dionot
A native of Reims, France, Chef Dionot was educated at L’Ecole Hoteliere de la Societe Suisse de Hoteliers in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he earned a diploma in hotel and restaurant service, management and all phases of food preparation. Chef Dionot then worked in several, highly acclaimed kitchens in Switzerland, France, Washington, D.C. and New York. He remains an integral part of L’Academie, handling day-to-day operations as school director and instructor for the theoretical portions of the school’s professional programs. He also teaches avocational French cuisine classes, conducts master classes on specialized food subjects around the country and serves as a food consultant for various professional groups.
A founding member and past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), he is also a Chef Rotisseur member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs.
Chef Amy Riolo
As an award-winning author, chef, television personality, cuisine and culture expert, and educator, Amy Riolo is known for sharing history, culture, and nutrition through global cuisine. A mediterranean diet advocate, Amy lectures on the pleasure and health of eating at The Library of Congress, universities, health organizations, and many international venues. She makes frequent appearances on numerous television and radio programs in the United States and abroad and has created and appeared weekly in 90 second cooking videos entitled “Culture of Cuisine” that air on nationally syndicated news shows on 28 different channels across the United States. As a respected culinary diplomat, Amy has created menus, culinary ceremonies, and educational seminars for diplomats, international chefs, and world leaders, earning her the title “The Cook to the Kings” by a Cairo newspaper in 2008. Amy is also the author of a noted culinary/cultural blog, Amyriolo.blogspot.com, known for promoting little-known facts about global cuisines and the people who create them.
Chef Bonnie Moore
Bonnie Moore brings over 25 years experience as a chef, strategic planner, and educator focused on the culinary arts, healthy eating, and connecting farms with families to her classes at L’Academie de Cuisine. As Founder and President of Moore Impact, she works with leaders in the hospitality industry to develop clear strategies and pathways for growth. Formerly the Executive Sous Chef at the renowned Inn at Little Washington, she continues to consult with the Inn on special projects and business development. As executive chef of Global Food & Nutrition, she developed sustainable strategies for integrating US commodities into the diets of developing countries and has traveled internationally to conduct food demonstration classes and cooking workshops as part of food aid programs. Over the years, Bonnie has brought her passion for food, agriculture and wellness to live audiences around the country through her classes and has been a sought-after speaker at national conferences for the hospitality industry. After graduating from Boston University with a BS in Math and Statistics, Bonnie found her true calling in the kitchen and soon exchanged her calculator for a whisk and wooden spoon. She earned degrees in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University and pastry arts from L’Academie de Cuisine. Bonnie likes to be involved with food at every stage, from planting seeds at the farm to creating a meal for her family. She believes there is no better way to foster community and nourish those you love than sharing food at the table. Bonnie is a board member of the non-profit Chef Ann Foundation, a national organization dedicated to helping schools serve children healthy and delicious scratch-cooked meals made with fresh, whole food. She is a foundering board member of Real Food For Kids, committed to educating school communities about the benefits of eating healthful foods and advocating to ensure access to whole foods for every student. Also Past President and current board member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, she is a mentor to women in the restaurant industry and continues to promote women as role models to inspire future generations of culinarians. Bonnie lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband David and their son, Will.
Chef Joel Olson
Joel Olson is the Executive Chef of Hemmachef, brings his unique flair to culinary instruction, offering dynamic cooking classes and manners/etiquette classes to adults and children in residential, school and professional settings. Olson’s years of training and expertise have demonstrated his ability to provide a solid culinary foundation in which students can enjoy the social event of preparing and sharing food. An honors graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Maryland, Chef Olson also holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University Of Wisconsin, Madison.
Chef Leslie Meyer
Leslie Meyer is a long time veteran of L’Academie de Cuisine beginning her career as a chef’s assistant at L’Academie in 1998. She is a graduate of New York’s French Culinary Institute and has assisted such notable chefs as Jacques Pepin, Alice Waters and Nick Malgieri. Leslie has worked in a variety of venues including Manhattan’s Blue Hill restaurant, Abigail Kirsch Catering and the French Culinary Institute’s L’Ecole restaurant. She currently works as a Hospitality Instructor for the Restaurant Association of Maryland teaching food safety and business courses to restaurateurs. Most recently, Leslie has completed a culinary project testing and developing recipes for Cook’s Illustrated at America’s Test Kitchen in Boston, MA. Leslie teaches a broad range of private and public classes designed around basic culinary techniques based in specific cuisines and genres.
Michael Franz is a wine writer, educator, and consultant. He is editor of Wine Review Online, wine columnist for France magazine, and a freelance contributor to many national and international wine magazines. He wrote nearly 300 articles as regular wine columnist for The Washington Post from 1994 to 2005. Franz left the Post in 2005 to help found Wine Review Online as editor and managing partner, and it has quickly become one of the world’s most widely viewed wine publications, now logging more than two million hits per month. He also is a wine consultant for 13 restaurants in the National Capital area with combined annual wine sales of more than $8 million. Franz has conducted more than 850 site visits and tastings at wineries across Western and Eastern Europe, South America, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. He tastes approximately 9,000 wines each year, and regularly serves as a judge at national and international wine
Chef Neil Fletcher Wilson
Chef Neil Fletcher Wilson is a Certified Personal Chef in the Washington D.C. Metro area. His speciality is fine dining multi-course dinner parties as well as scheduled in home prepared meals. His clients include hard working professionals, Members of Congress, national media personalities, White House staff, legal and medical professionals. He graduated from L’Academie de Cuisine first in his class. He cooked for two years in some of the area’s finest dining establishments, most notably Palena under Chef Frank Ruta, a James Beard Award-winning chef. Neil is a retired Army officer with over 20 years of service in various leadership and staff assignments ranging from small combat units to the Army staff at the Pentagon. He holds a Bachelors degree in Biology and a Masters Degree in Mid East Affairs.
Chef Nichole Ferrigno
Nichole Ferrigno earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was professionally trained in pastry arts at L’Academie de Cuisine, and spent 7 years as a restaurant pastry chef in Washington DC. Nichole is also former co- owner of DC’s own Paisley Fig. Now a self-proclaimed “recovering pastry chef,” Nichole has paved a path into the realm of nutrition: she completed a certification program in holistic health coaching at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City in 2011 and spent a year as an adjunct faculty member at Maryland University of Integrative Health, instructing students in a Masters of Nutrition program about healthful food preparation. Currently, Nichole works as a recreational culinary instructor teaching healthy cooking and also works as a health coach for individuals and families. Having forged a path first into cooking and then wellness, Nichole is committed to educating communities about issues surrounding healthy eating, access to healthy foods, and living a vibrant life. Her goal is to instill in her students a greater awareness and confidence around food and cooking and sustained ability to nourish themselves.
Chef Paul Schneider
Paul Schneider is a graduate of L’Academie’s professional culinary program where he graduated with honors and was number one in his class. He is also a graduate of Denison University. Paul has been teaching recreational classes, private events and summer camps at L’Academie since 2005. Prior to that, he worked at the highly-acclaimed and award-winning, modern French-American restaurant 2941, located in Falls Church, Virginia. In a Washington Post profile of L’Academie’s recreational classes, the Post said, “Schneider held court the way a cooking-show host does; he cooked with prepared ingredients and threw in a little humor to lighten up the room… The chef slowed down during the preparation of a recipe to illustrate the finer points of technique.” When not teaching, Paul also runs his own personal chef business, Chef Paul Cooks. He creates seasonally fresh meals made weekly to the specific preferences and dietary needs of his families.
Chef Sarah McCarty
Sarah grew up north of Boston where her first jobs were at a local farm and gourmet food store. Once she finished college and worked in an office for two years, she decided to change paths to pursue her love of food, cooking, and hospitality. Sarah moved to Paris and completed the culinary program at the École Supérieure de Cuisine Française (Ferrandi). Ferrandi proved to be a valuable move as she moved on to work in top restaurants in France, Washington, D.C. and Charleston, SC.
Chef Sherri Zollo
Sherri Zollo is a graduate of The Institute of Culinary Education located in New York City. A recipient of James Beard and Peter Kump’s Scholarships, she completed her education at ICE with an externship at Saveur magazine. After completing culinary school, Sherri worked as Sous Chef at the Pacific Grille in New Jersey, a restaurant concept built around fresh ingredients, serving California cuisine with an Asian influence. Her background also includes catering, event planning, and high-end party consulting for individuals and businesses. Sherri began teaching at L’Academie in 2004 and is currently a Culinary Consultant and Instructor. Sherri has built a clientele in the Virginia, Metro DC area with whom she creates culinary events, fundraisers, private parties, and classes. Her bachelor’s degree in Corporate Fitness/ Exercise Physiology paired with being a mother of two shapes her view of healthy cuisine.
Chef Michele Kenno
After raising two daughters and spending 18 years in the financial services industry, Michele was ready for a change. The desire to combine artistic talent with an appreciation for fine food led her to L’Academie de Cuisine’s Pastry Arts program, and she graduated with distinction in 2004. She went on to open CakeDreams bakery in Rockville, MD, where she specialized in custom wedding and celebration cakes. Michele also created a thriving cupcake following, and her unique creations resulted in her becoming a two-time winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.
She also competed on the Food Network’s Sweet Genius, and CakeDreams was a destination on the Food Network’s “On the Road.” Michele’s wedding cakes and cupcakes earned her several annual Bride’s Choice awards on Wedding Wire, Best Wedding Cakes in D.C. and Best Chocolate Cake in D.C. by CBSDC, Top 15 Cupcakes in America by Kitchen Daily, and features in The Knot and Maryland Weddings magazines.
Currently she is very active in dog rescue and spends most of her free time volunteering at her local animal shelter to help end homelessness of companion pets.
Chef Stephanie Barrett
Stephanie Barrett brings her passions for global and seasonal cooking to L’Academie de Cuisine classes. Culinary research and education have been mainstays of Stephanie’s travels to more than 30 countries and counting. She strongly believes in the power of food to bring people of diverse backgrounds together!
As a previous Sous Chef with a farm in Loudoun County and now as Head Chef at Glen’s Garden Market in D.C., Stephanie makes local and seasonal produce and proteins the cornerstones of her cooking. She loves combining international flavors from her travels with local, fresh ingredients, supporting local farms and culinary entrepreneurs in the process!
While living in Belgium for five years, Stephanie expanded her culinary horizons by undertaking informal education in French and Italian wines and Belgian beer at every opportunity. As part of her travels, Stephanie has undertaken culinary training in Paris, France at Le Cordon Bleu as well as informal culinary education in many other countries. Upon her return to the D.C. area, she continued in the European culinary tradition through her internship at Swiss Bakery in Springfield, Virginia.
Stephanie also has an educational background and a previous career in environmental policy, and so she is always looking for opportunities to blend her culinary passion with the D.C. area’s bountiful harvest of organic, seasonal, and local ingredients.
The expert, friendly staff at L'Academie bring years of industry experience and a passion for cooking to their work. They are dedicated to ensuring every student has a fun, informative experience.
Laurence Richard was born in France and moved to the United States as an infant. She grew up in West Los Angeles/Beverly Hills, the child of French upholsterer parents. Early on, she married a French chef, Michel Richard and had four spirited and creative children. She has spent the last 37 years living in West Los Angeles and the Washington DC area, raising a family and working alongside her husband, opening pastry shops and restaurants all over the United States and the world. In her free time, Laurence enjoys traveling, tasting new foods, hiking, biking, skiing, playing golf, kayaking and any activity that brings her closer to nature. Laurence has spent her entire adult life accruing international knowledge and experience in the art of fine dining and hospitality. She is now sharing her enthusiasm for food and wine in her new role as the Campus Director for the recreational cooking school, L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Maryland.
Sedrick Crawley graduated with honors from L’Academie’s culinary program in 2009.
Administrative Office Coordinator
Sonia has always enjoyed eating her mother’s homemade Chinese food sourced with ingredients from their backyard garden, but she truly discovered her inner foodie when she when she lived in China for three years, where food is an indispensable part of Chinese culture and daily life, as evidenced by her favorite show—hit documentary, “A Bite of China”. Every province prides itself in their distinctive regional cuisines. While Sonia spent most of her time in Beijing where you could find Beijing classics like roast duck as well as regional foods like Xinjiang chuan’r (kabob), Sichuan hotpot, and Chongqing mouth numbing dumplings, her stomach truly lies with her family’s local spicy cuisine in the southern provinces of Guizhou, Jiangxi, and Hunan. Sonia began her culinary journey as a kitchen assistant at L’Academie de Cuisine, which inspired her to take a leap of faith, and go to Thailand and China for two months to study cuisine. She studied under home-cooks as well as professional chefs in little cafes and top restaurants. In the hopes of educating others on authentic Asian cuisine, she shares her passion for spicy ingredients and unique flavors on her Instagram food photography feed: @aworldoflavor.
Delmy Fletes began working at L’Academie de Cuisine in 2007, as a chef assistant and back of the house staff. Currently she is the Kitchen Coordinator, managing food orders, the commissary, and back of the house operations. She got her Diploma as a Medical Assistant.
Rosa Argueta began working at L’Academie de Cuisine in February of 1998. She worked with Francois Dionot as one of our dishwashers. Throughout the years she has continued to work as our main back of the house staff and chef’s assistant.
Isabel Martinez began working at L’Academie de Cuisine in 2004 as a chef’s assistant and back of the house staff.
The Volunteer Assistant Program
All of the assistants in our recreational cooking classes are members of our Volunteer Assistant Program.
Work alongside other like-minded people who love to cook, assisting at L’Academie de Cuisine is a great way to keep learning new techniques and recipes from our talented chefs, too. Decide how often and which classes you want to assist. For every class that you assist, after your training is completed, you earn one credit. Each credit is worth half-off the price of one of our regularly priced classes. These credits can be used by you, or you can share them with family and friends.
Please direct further questions about the program to Laurence Richard, Volunteer Assistant Coordinator at email@example.com.
Who Can Become An Assistant?
To become an assistant at L’Academie de Cuisine you must be at least 18 years old, and have attended at least two recreational classes at L’Academie de Cuisine within the past year.
1. Submit your application online
2. Email your signed waiver to firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Wait to be scheduled for an orientation
Once your online application and signed waiver have been received, our Volunteer Assistant Coordinator will contact you to schedule an orientation. This is an opportunity for you to learn more about the program, tour our facility, and begin the training process.
Your training begins by your selecting three classes that you would like to assist in. As an assistant-in-training, you will work alongside 2-3 experienced assistants, who will help you learn the basic procedures- before, during and after a class. Your chef-instructor will be aware that you are a trainee, and will guide you along as well. When you have successfully completed your training, you are ready to start learning new techniques, new recipes and accumulating your assistant credits with each class that you assist.