Meet the people you’ll be seeing at your next class, birthday party, or team building event!

Maria Kopsidas

Maria Kopsidas is the creator and owner of Cookology. Prior to opening the gate to Cookology, Maria spent fifteen years leading marketing and communications campaigns for Fortune 500 companies, trade associations, restaurants, and charities including Discovery Channel International as publicist for India and Australia; Grocery Manufacturers Association, the largest and oldest food manufacturer association in the country, as manager of online communications; director of communications for an Electronic Data Discovery firm, and prior to opening Cookology, she was a sought-after marketing consultant with McKinley Marketing Partners.

Growing up in a Mediterranean family with philanthropists, cooks, cookbook authors, health experts and professional chefs on both sides, including a pastry chef in the White House, the idea of a super accessible, affordable cooking school was her dream. Starting in 2003, Maria took her marketing experience and love of cooking, food, health, and people and created Cookology. Finally, after six years of chasing her dream, working on her marketing career while raising a child, she secured an SBA loan, negotiated a lease, oversaw construction buildout, hired her staff, and opened the doors in February 2009.

Feel free to email Maria or visit her LinkedIn

Mafhy Diamaano

Dulles Town Center’s Store Manager, and Cookology’s Children’s Event’s Coordinator Mafelida Diamaano joined the Cookology team in 2017 and has been absolutely vital to us since! This is her first venture into the culinary world, but before us she worked in high end retailers such as Burberry and Giorgio Armani and was a corporate flight attendant for a private charter company for ten years.

When Mafhy isn’t in the store organizing our day-to-day operations, she has a son named Liam who she spends all of her time outside of work with going back and forth from New York City visiting her family and friends.

Call her at the store to schedule your next children’s birthday party at Cookology!

David Hammerly

Born and raised in Arlington, VA,  David A Hammerly is a true local and has a passion for the history and culture of our community.

Starting out as a bartender at the Adams Morgan early 90’s hot-spot, Bradshaws, David then landed every 20-something’s rock n roll dream job: joining the staff at the renowned 9:30 Club. In his 20+ years at the 9:30 Club, David wore many hats: security, bartender, and bar-manager. In 2000, to satisfy his interest in the world of cigars, he added a part-time gig to his schedule, working at the esteemed W. Curtis Draper Tobacconist in D.C. He eventually combined his love of mixology and cigars and accepted a role as the Bar Manager at Civil Cigar Lounge in Friendship Heights. After 5 successful years at Civil, David could not refuse the opportunity to rejoin his beloved 9:30 Club family, and became part of the management team that opened DC’s best live music venue, The Anthem. David brings his vast experience in the restaurant/bar industry – including a management role at Sofitel Hotels – his knowledge of fine spirits, as well as a love for the city’s unique history to Cookology as the Operations Director. When not at work, Hammerly explores a more creative side as the lead singer of the band King Giant.

Stefanie Gans

Stefanie Gans, the Director of Talent & Culture, oversees programming
and events at Cookology. For eight years, she was the dining editor
and restaurant critic at Northern Virginia Magazine, covering all
aspects of food, drink and the dining scene. Previous jobs included
political pollster, non-profit manager promoting progressive workplace
practices, farmers market manager and diner waitress. Originally from
South Jersey, Stefanie has lived in the D.C. area for two decades and
will not leave the house without her nails painted. Now that she isn’t
required to eat at restaurants multiple nights a week, she’s excited
to take cooking classes and play in the kitchen with her two young

Veronica Essex

Veronica Essex is the Creative Project Manager at Cookology. Veronica is a writer, poet, designer, and all around creative artist who loves people. Born and raised in Prince George’s County, MD, she loves to travel specifically on mission trips with her local church.

With over 15 years of Graphic Design, Web Design, and Project Management experience, Veronica works alongside Maria to bring creative projects to life.

As an entrepreneur, she has always has a heart to be able to bring to life the ideas and imagery that lives inside of her clients. Veronica loves to work one on one to bring her clients’ visions to pass and now she gets to do that on a larger scale.

Deb Claybrook

Deb Claybrook, Cookology’s Sales Director, has been with Cookology since 2015 and provides the textbook definition of industry experience! Having been in the sales industry since 1980 as an insurance broker in Missouri, Deb brings over 35 years of diverse and applied knowledge to your service! The emphasis of her business practice is highly personalized service to custom tailor your private or corporate team building event!

Trustworthy, personalized business practices while providing exemplary customer service is important in the fast paced world in which we live and that’s the cornerstone of Deb’s business philosophy.

Start planning your next Team Building or Private Event by contacting her at (703) 433-1909 or [email protected].

Paul Miller

Paul Miller, Cookology’s Food & Beverage Manager has 16 years of experience in the specialty foods industry from commercial grocery stores to a specialty food broker. His experience includes work with Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Red White & Blue, and many more!

Paul is our resident “Cheesehead” and has a vast and extensive knowledge on everything cheesy! He has hands-on experience in making fresh and aged cheese that he mastered from Three Shepherds Farm under the direction of Dr. Larry Faillace. This, combined with his previous knowledge about cheese brought together his passion to teach people about its complexities and characteristics while sending his message that, “Cheese is not just for crackers anymore.”

Chef Nicole Matthews

Chef Nicole Matthews is a Chef Instructor at Cookology. Originally  Chef Nicole worked as a School counselor in a Title 1 school in Tampa that she absolutely loved. She was using cooking (pasta doughs/breads) to help students with anger management and loved teaching them about food. She was involved in writing many grants for the school to incorporate healthier eating, supporting the school garden and farm, more fresh fruits and vegetables into the school. Chef Nicole decided to go to culinary school at night and once she graduated in 2012 came to DC to work for Common Threads. She worked at the Washington School for Girls at THEARC and loved it so much but it wasn’t full time, so she took a job at the Inn at Little Washington and eventually moved closer right before she had her son in 2014.  She worked at the Inn for 7.5 years anchoring the AM staff that was responsible for breakfast for in house guests, production of stocks, pastas and more for PM to be successful.  Created the Jam and Pickling program and was in charge of the Inn’s food for the Farmers Market that the Inn held for three years. Known affectionately as Momma, she worked closely with culinary interns and novice cook hires at the Inn.
Nicole believes in hard work, respect and enjoying yourself. When she’s not working you can find her hanging out with her son Sammy and spending time with family.  She likes to go on adventures and wishes to travel more. She loves to cook Southern and Italian Cuisine and eat Mexican Cuisine.
Chef Nicole came to Cookology because she loves the idea of having a place where no matter your skill level you can see the joys of cooking and even if you find more joy in the eating- you can hopefully still have a good time here.  She especially enjoys the classes for kids to try their hand at cooking and baking.

Favorite Quote: If at first you do succeed, try not to look surprised!

Chef Jenna Dawson

Executive Chef, Jenna Dawson has been with Cookology since 2016 and has been our energetic rock since! If you ever take a class with her, get ready for high energy and lots of laughs! Jenna is a free spirit with a love for teaching guests how to cook.

She got her start at Johnson and Wales and earned an Associates in Culinary Arts and a Bachelors in Hospitality & Food Service Management with a concentration in Spirits and Mixology. After working internships in South Carolina, Jenna found Cookology and decided to drive through the night for her interview in the morning and has been a dedicated employee ever since!

Fun things about her: She love Tex-mex Foods and Margaritas. Her favorite food to teach is Fresh Pasta and other Italian Classics. She never leaves home without her “U” Shaped Peeler. Her favorite kitchen tool is the micro plane. Her favorite recipes are cheesecake, French Macarons, and her specialty, Mini Cinnamon Vanilla Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream!

Chef Ed Hardy

Chef Ed Hardy brings his extensive restaurant experience in some of America’s best kitchens to Cookology! Chef Ed has worked for Top Chef Master Marcus Samuelsson, as well as the acclaimed restaurants Red Rooster (NY Times Two-Star rated), Aquavit NYC (NY Times Three-Star rated), and American Table.

You may recognize Ed from his appearances on the Food Network (most recently on Beat Bobby Flay), his Top 50 selection by Northern Virginia Magazine for his work at Bistro Vivant, or by his Maryland’s Best New Restaurant award for his menu at Quench!

Ed specializes in Southern Fusion cuisine and has self-proclaimed “complicated opinions” about curing, smoking, and hamburger construction. In his spare time, he builds Lego creations with his son Jacques, and still finds time to play the trombone!

Chef Olivia Dennis

Chef Olivia Dennis started her technical training at Dr Henry A. Wise Jr. High school where she was awarded Master Chef in her senior graduating class. She spent her collegiate career at Johnson & Wales University and was able to be a part of a pilot program that has changed the culinary curriculum for all future Wildcats.

Since then Chef Olivia Dennis has had the pleasure of working throughout the DMV area at various restaurants as well as schools serving her community one plate at a time. In her spare time Chef Olivia loves being a mom to her beautiful son and hopes to bring her love for cooking and family to you!

Chef Jenesis Prioleau

Jenesis Prioleau is a television series Masterchef contestant and was able to make it to the top 78 in the competition. She’s has partaken in key speaking to empowering young women throughout her home state of Delaware.  As well as, advocates in volunteering at the food bank and The Easter Seals.  Prioleau has made a guest television appearance as chef on Cooked and uncorked and the Shod Santiago show through the LGBTQ Network SVTV.

With a Master Degree in Administrative Justice. She goes against the grain by cooking with her heart while listening to music and singing off key at her home in Smyrna Delaware. Prioleau is a competitive gym rat, concert junkie and serial foodie. She has been cooking since the tender age of eight.  Prioleau is a vivacious Vegan that brings a new twist to plant base lifestyle anywhere she’s blessed with a kitchen with ingredients.

Jenesis is the author of “No Meat Allowed” . She brings a colorful love for fresh organic vegetables into your kitchen. Jenesis’s recipe book is for anyone looking to learn how to make a delicious vegan cuisine with a interesting twist. Unorthodox and non-traditional, Jenesis’ recipes open up Pandora’s box of scrumptious spices. Each flavor component that she’s created custom to the order, will send you into a journey of culinary fusion-style cooking.

Chef Dominique Jordan

Chef Dominique knew that she had a love for cooking at a very young age. Instead of watching the Cartoon Network as a child, she stared in awe at the Food Network. Dominique is grateful for her parent’s military background because she was able to live in Japan and explore diversity in culinary arts. She went on to attend her dream school at Johnson & Wales University. Though working an array of industry jobs like pop up restaurants and catering, she found her niche and flourished while teaching her craft to others and motivating them to connect through food. While Dominique is not at work, she enjoys being with her cat, Veronica, and hosting dinner gatherings with friends. Come and take a class with her and learn to become a better you through food!

Chef Greg Himelright

I’ve worked in food service and the hospitality industry for over twenty years. I have extensive experience in training and development in both areas. In addition to being an industry chef, I have done considerable work as a private chef and caterer. I am a Johnson & Wales university Graduate.
My love of cooking started at my mother’s side at the tender age of 4, when I burned my first grill cheese sandwich. I truly enjoy many cuisines, my preferences, however, are French provincial and Good ole’ southern cooking. My cooking style is simple cooking, utilizing contemporary ingredients, methods, and an organic presentation.