Owner - Joan "Jo" Horner
is a graduate of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts Professional Chef Program. She has extensive experience teaching at Eurostoves, Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, Williams-Sonoma, and Newton Continuing Education, holds a CCP (Certified Culinary Professional) certification from the "International Association of Culinary Professionals" and is ServSafe certified. She IS that person in the grocery store who sees you eyeing the strange vegetable and then tells you exactly how to cook it, or where to find that obscure ingredient you have been seeking. She has a passion for food history and world cuisines, has over 500 cookbooks hogging up her bookshelves and is happy to answer your quirkiest cooking questions. She lives in Newton with her picky-eater husband and her cat who is quite partial to chicken.
Founder - Renee Cavallo
grew up in a large Italian family where food was central to all occasions. Her childhood revolved around food and her early work experiences involved all the duties of her family restaurant. When she has time, she still works in the kitchen of "Venetian Moon", her family's restaurant in Reading. She has a B.A. in Education from Endicott College and has spent over 10 years teaching children. Until May of 2005, she was a beloved teacher at Riverside Children's Center in Newton, MA. She graduated from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts' Culinary Certificate Program in 2005. Renee's dream has always been to combine her love of children and teaching with her passion for cooking. She lives in Newton with her husband Seth and their daughters Penelope and Reese.
Sam (Samantha) Cowens
began her culinary adventure while living in Madrid, Spain in a semester abroad for college. While there she fell in love with the cuisine and when she returned to the states she began to cook for two families making nutritious, healthy meals to improve her clients' health. This emphasis on healthy cooking eventually led her to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI to study culinary nutrition and to improve her skills. After graduating she worked in country clubs and banquet kitchens along with teaching cooking at The Chopping Block in Chicago. Eventually her emphasis on nutrition and healthy eating led to a position in the dietetics department at Mt. Auburn Hospital, in Cambridge. Currently Sam is a personal chef/nutritionist/caterer in the local Boston area. At Create a Cook she designs and teaches many of our classes including the Healthy Home Cooking series. Oh, and she plays a mean game of basketball as well.
Jacqueline Lee Donabed
grew up in a family of talented bakers but picked a career in advertising. She loved it because there was a chance to travel, tell stories and wear jeans to work. But after a while she found herself looking for something completely different, and eventually found her way to L’École Nationale Superieure de la Pâtisserie, in Yssingeaux, France. In January 2012, she founded The Blue Macaron, and brings her talents toward gorgeous french baking to Create a Cook.
wasn't one of "those kids, always in the kitchen with mom." Growing up in Southern California, surrounded by gorgeous fresh produce, her favorite dish was a flour tortilla smothered in butter. One day, she turned on the TV and found a little Italian lady named Lydia Bastianich who was teaching big food lessons..."stay seaonal, stay local and stay simple." Her journey into the culinary life began there and the Trader Joe's frozen dinners were therefore eschewed. She applied to the Cambridge School of Culinary arts, and now has her degree, experience in professional kitchens, a husband and a dog, and a space on our teaching staff. She also runs a fantastic food blog called Farm Share Chef where she posts recipes based on CSA shares from the Two Field Farm in Wayland MA.
Joe’s passion for cooking began in Arlington, MA, where he grew up helping his mother and two older sisters in the kitchen. Cooking and sharing food was always an integral way for the family to connect. It wasn’t until much later, however, that Joe saw cooking as a career path. His early success in directing independent films drew Joe and his wife, Carey, also a filmmaker, to Los Angeles. While in L.A., Joe would often show appreciation to his friends and colleagues by hosting extravagant dinner parties with unforgettable menus. After much persuasion, Joe began holding private cooking classes and “The Killer Cook” was born.
Many of his friends were now eager to learn to cook. Joe’s passion for food and his dynamic personality brought the lessons alive for his students and soon his clientele expanded. Joe had discovered his true calling: a profession that empowers people and brings them together, and he never looked back. Joe is proud to be a part of the Create-a-Cook team.
is not a chef and does not teach classes, but helps run the office at CAC to the best of her abilities. Vocationally she has been a web designer, a tech support helpdesk manager, and the skills pulled from those histories translate wonderfully to the CAC environment. She is the "voice" of our social media, maintainer of our website, photographer of classes and events. Chances are you have called in to ask a question, and she has helped you book your party or build your memorable event. She is married to Doug, lives with her children Jess and Geoff, herds three dogs and the occasional guinea pig or ferret, and is active in Boy Scouting in her hometown of Groveland where she actually is a mighty fine Dutch Oven chef.
In 1995 a passion for cooking and teaching brought Donna a change of careers, and the start of Carrie Lane Cuisine, a personal chef service and cooking classes. Many clients are still getting weekly meals from her and teaching continues to be a priority. “There is no better feeling than teaching someone how to make healthy, delicious, food for their friends and families.” Having taught for many years in her home and most recently at
Eurostoves in Beverly, Donna brings with her a wealth of cooking knowledge and an excitement to pass it along to her students.
Getting dinner ready for her family was Alycia’s job most days after school. She enjoyed cooking so much she made the decision to go to culinary school. Although she loved to cook, finding her place in the kitchen was proving to be more difficult than she thought. During her internship at the Westin Hotel, she found herself spending a lot time in the pastry department, and everything fell into place. Since then, she’s worked for Finale, made wedding and specialty cakes for Rosie’s Bakery, was assistant pastry chef at The Catered Affair and currently works at The Quebrada Baking Co. in Wellesley. Alycia loves seeing people get excited about food, and the confidence kids get when you teach them skills and cooking in the kitchen.
recently returned to the Boston area after nearly two years living and working in Northern New York, where he was the Dean at Paul Smiths College for the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Culinary Management. While living in Lake Placid, he helped to inaugurate the “Lake Placid Eats Local” program. He is currently an adjunct professor at Lasell College in Newton teaching hospitality management courses, and also works as an event chef for a local catering company. Prior to moving to New York, Jim was employed in the Massachusetts community college system at Massasoit, Cape Cod and Bunker Hill community colleges. At Cape Cod and Bunker Hill he was the program director for culinary arts and hospitality management. During his years working there, he was involved in not only the academics of culinary arts, but also operationally as both colleges had restaurants open to the public. He was also employed as a chef at various restaurants including 10 Center Street in Newburyport, The Wianno Grill in Hyannis and the Naked Oyster in Hyannis. Jim hold a BS in Hotel Administration from the University of New Hampshire and a Masters degree from Southern New Hampshire University.
A native of Providence, RI, Jeremy was born into a family of chefs and a rich restaurant scene. At the age of 14 he made the decision that he would pursue his passion in the field of culinary arts and has not looked back since. Prior to graduating Johnson & Wales with a BS in Culinary Arts, Jeremy had spent summers working in Germany, Singapore, and Thailand, immersing himself in various cuisines and cultures. As a manager in Rhode Island restaurants Jeremy earned 4 "Best of Rhode Island" Awards, as well as being selected to represent Johnson & Wales at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, Illinois. He has trained under 3 James Beard Award Winners, and a 2 Star Michelin Chef. He continues his pursuit of culinary knowledge through a love for travel and has committed to experiencing a new country each year.
grew up in a family where food was king. Her father was the consummate restaurant connoisseur, her younger brother a culinary school graduate, her older brother a sushi chef, one older sister is a cake decorator and her other older sister a food and beverage manager for a major hotel. A long-time chef to friends and family, she began her official food odyssey by attending the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts shortly after graduating from Bowdoin College with a focus in childhood education. Professionally, Heather has worked the line at the Finale dessert restaurants and as a pastry chef at Petit Robert Bistro in Boston. Not to be limited to one area of food, she continues to work as a private chef and caterer and has been inspired by the flavors of Asia on numerous trips to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, and Japan. Heather always hoped to combine her love of teaching with her love of cooking and finally found the perfect place, Create-a-Cook, where she has been happily working since.
comes to us from New York City, and is a classically trained French chef with knowledge in many cuisines. He has worked as a chef instructor at the primary and secondary school levels, and at four New York Jean Georges restaurants, JoJo, Vong, Restaurant 66 and Jean Georges. This combination of skills, teaching of the children and cooking of the awesomesauce, makes Mark a dynamo in our kitchens. His comfort with haute cuisine, and children who can be “not so haute” comes in very handy at CAC. Lovingly referred to as "Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch" by our staff, he lives locally with his Rottweiler Maggie and fiance Miyoung. Ask nicely, and he'll make you his signature dish, Llama Parmagiana.