As news about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its arrival in the DC region continues to dominate the news, we at Cookology once again assure everyone that the health and safety of our clients and staff have always been our top priority. At both our Dulles Town Center and Ballston Quarter locations, we adhere to the strict regulations and food safety plans established by the Virginia Department of Health.

Our owner, Maria Kopsidas, also provides this update about current procedures and policies in place at both locations.

Hey Everyone-

Every new email I receive from some of my favorite restaurants, theaters and music venues are all extensive explanations of how they plan to keep their spaces clean for us. This makes me feel somewhat better. I panicked two weeks ago until my daughter sent me this meme and told me, “Mom chill out.”


I have always been a germaphobe. I’ve only been able to work in restaurants where the cleaning program is as meticulous as the food. My philosophy of choosing where I worked was simply asking, Can I eat off the floor? One of my chefs, who used to co-own Cafe Paradiso in Woodley Park, and who now owns Zenola in Vienna, (and who’s brother owns Wilson’s Hardware) was the most meticulous and clean of all my chefs. I’ve adopted his attitude in my cooking schools.


From day 1 at Ballston Quarter (March 3, 2019): Because we do a huge volume of events on the weekend, I felt like on Monday and Tuesday, when we usually don’t have events, we needed to do a deep cleaning.

Currently we have one kitchen tech in from Monday to Friday 9 am – 1 pm to clean, do any remaining laundry (towels/aprons), mop each classroom and put clean dishes away from the night before. She essentially puts the store back together. Every Monday night, our cleaners, a husband and wife team, deep clean the store from the weekend – they get the crumbs in the corners, finger prints off of stainless, and mop the floors.

From Monday thru Sunday, Zoila, Ed, Christopher, Elmer, Henry are our back of house techs and cleaners. They clean all of our dishes after classes, mop before and after class, utilizing our dish machine for each utensil, plate and pan, and sanitize all surfaces throughout the week. The same goes for Dulles – day time deep cleaning, daily cleaning – it’s a much smaller store and easier to clean.


The max class is usually 20 attendees, but on average is 10-16 attendees at once.

If you came for a class prior to Covid19, our SOP was hang out in the lobby, use one of the iPads to check-in, order beer or wine, wait until the chef comes to gather everyone into the kitchen. If you’re arriving for a corporate team or a birthday, we would take you back to our meeting space and let you hang out. Once customers were in the kitchen, they hung their coat, found a cutting board, put their bags on the table undershelf where they stood, put on their green apron and washed hands.


Now that we have the threat of COVID-19, we have taken the following precautions, and it is taking a few more minutes than usual. We ask for everyone’s patience.

When customers walk in, the iPad has been sanitized. We have hand sanitizer sitting on the desk for your use. We then ask everyone as they come in, and after they check in, to move into a specific kitchen to hang their coats, and immediately wash their hands and take a seat. After everyone has showed up, the chef will come out to introduce themselves, and bring you into the class, where you will now put on a plastic apron, and put on gloves.

We will then ask you if you want wine but we won’t serve it until you’re at your cutting board in the kitchen. Wine will be serviced by our front-of-the-house employees who wear gloves.


We are not using our cloth aprons. It’s my feeling that if someone has the virus or the flu, it will die on the plastic apron that will go into the trash, instead of staff members picking up your cloth apron, carrying it to the washing machine and exposing themselves to the virus.


We have also removed all cloth towels from the stores. We are using paper towels so that once a table is sanitized any debris or germs that are on the paper towel can be thrown away. We worry about surface contamination and the life of the coronavirus on surface areas.

We are sanitizing the bathrooms before and after each class. We are keeping entry doors open so that we cut down on the minimum of touched surfaces.


Because we have six kitchens in Ballston and each kitchen has doors that can be closed, we can keep your group (class, birthday or corporate event) away from other events. In Dulles we have three kitchens all of which are removed from each other, and doors can be closed.


The chef who is teaching and a kitchen tech are prepping your food. You can always, always take the time to rewash ingredients if you’re a fellow germaphobe. You can always change your gloves at any time.


We do not offer paid sick leave officially, because it’s been seriously abused in the past. However, no one is allowed to come into work sick, and we financially support employees who come to us with a doctors note, or have to take care of a sick child or sick parent.

With COVID-19, our sick leave has changed. If someone gets sick we expect them to tell us right away, and we will offer sick pay for their sick leave with a doctor’s note. Also, we will see if they can qualify for Virginia’s Workers Compensation fund, so they can assist them financially.

Obviously we are a small team and can identify right away if someone is sick. Each employee who works 32 hours or more can sign up for our company health insurance from day one of employment, and everyone is insured on staff.

We are all a family here, and my employees’ success and well-being is my success and well-being. This family atmosphere, at times dysfunctional, has kept us in business from the Great Recession to the Coronavirus, two volatile elections, many financial ups and downs, and all other kinds of crazy. We are still standing. If COVID-19 takes us out, it’s been a fun ride and we loved all of your support. Just know we are doing our best like other food service establishments and restaurants!

Cooking schools and restaurants – and their workers – in Virginia, Maryland and DC are required to be ServSafe-certified. Most are Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and National Restaurant Association members, who are meticulously clean, service focused, trained and certified in sanitation and cleanliness. Don’t let the media make you believe we run our kitchens like medieval slaughter houses. We truly care.

Big huge hugs to you all.