Chef Marie, or MJ, wields her cooking prowess through inventive catering services and cooking classes that span a variety of culinary options, from American and Italian fare to South African and Indian dishes. Each of her catering spreads uses a minimum of freeze-dried or premade products, prioritizing housemade dishes made with fresh ingredients. Marie’s one- to three-course cooking classes cover specific techniques, such as preparing seafood or blending sumptuous soups, as well as how to make specific regional cuisines from places such as Northern Italy or the southern portion of Antarctica.
The classes take several different forms; private parties with two to six people at MJ Creations Sweets and Treats, personal classes that take place in patrons’ private kitchens, and six-night group workshops, which also take place at MJ Creations Sweets and Treats. And during kids’ culinary birthday parties, youngsters soak up age-appropriate cooking techniques such as how to crack eggs with their feet.
Tamara Clark, owner of TC Artworks, completely renovates spaces without ever picking up a hammer. Her tool is a paintbrush, and her skill in wielding paint was evident to a national audience when ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition commissioned her to decorate a new home in 2006. She can add texture and depth to ceilings with a modern cluster of curlicues, melt away walls with a mural of the outdoors, or reinvent furniture by distressing it or adding stenciled shapes. The decorative artist reveals some of her tricks at Vino and Vintage art classes, where students enjoy their own drinks and snacks as she instructs them on chalk paint, metallics, and other techniques for revamping furniture or home decor.
Photographer Andres Soulas's 30-year journey through the world of photography began in his native Argentina when he enrolled at the National Art Museum in Buenos Aires. From there, he traveled to San Francisco to study at the Academy of Art College before moving across the US to teach at the Richmond Visual Arts Center. Reflecting his travels, his portfolio features photos of cityscapes, landscapes, performances, fine art, and portraits of people outdoors rather than in front of studio backdrops. Because of his passion for on-location photography, his photography classes are ideal for beginner photographers who want to learn to take pictures while traveling and get statues in the park to smile.
Okello Dunkley designs his workshops for students who have just bought or are thinking of buying a DLSR camera but are mystified by its myriad gadgets and gizmos. The accessible nature of these classes has helped Dunkley spread them into nearly a dozen locations across the Midwest and east coast, where students as young as 12 learn how to take a digital camera off automatic mode and manually manipulate ISO light sensors and aperture openings. More advanced classes delve into working with difficult light—such as cloudy weather or days when the sun is set on strobe light—and others explore how to navigate computer software for photo manipulation.
Exquisite Gourmet Service was born when executive chef Rommel contacted chef Reese about fulfilling a dream to begin a private chef-for-hire business. Rommel cut his culinary teeth at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where he specialized in French cuisine. Reese trained at Baltimore International College, concentrating on baking and pastry arts, which involved preparing cubist danishes. Today, the duo handles all manner of catering and cooking tasks. They feed wedding parties, create romantic dinners, serve as personal chefs, and teach in-home cooking lessons.
Signature service: Learn Salsa in a fun and easy way.
Staff Size: 2–10 people
Average Duration of Services: 30–60 minutes
Pro Tip: No partner or dancing experience required. Good for all ages and levels. Wear suede sole shoes.