5/5 stars February 18, 2017
This past fall we had the joy of hosting our son’s wedding and through several referrals, we discovered Marilena! With her guidance and expertise, our dinner party was the most wonderful occasion and our guest still comment on the dinner. Her food was delicious, her staff were wonderful, and most important, Marilena was a joy to work with. I have never hosted a dinner party that I actually enjoyed so much! Marilena made it an occasion we will never forget and I truly cannot “sing” enough praise for how she made it such a special evening!
Thank you Marilena!
— Lou and Mindy Sparace
5/5 stars January 14, 2017
What a gift! My father has always been a curious cook. So, when it was time to think about a Christmas gift for him, I naturally turned to food related items. After strolling through stores and scrolling through websites, it dawned on me that he would really enjoy a private class. Marilena was my first choice to contact, and I was so happy that she was available to hold a private baking lesson in my home. After a few emails back and forth, we decided she would teach my father, sister and me to make 3 breads. Marilena arrived with everything we needed to bake these breads. She was thorough in her instruction and answered every question we asked. We enjoyed the fruits of our labor – the bread was delicious! By the end of our class, not only were my family and I contemplating another class, my father was trying to find a way to bring her to his friends, four hours away, to have a group class! Thank you, Marilena; it really was a gift!
— Melissa G.
5/5 stars May 31, 2016
My daughter (10) and I had the pleasure of taking a cooking lesson together with Marilena. The session was absolutely fantastic! Marilena was extremely professional throughout the process, assessing the types of foods my daughter likes, what specific skills she needed assistance with, etc. Marilena’s demeanor put my sometimes-shy daughter at ease quickly, making the experience that much better for her. I would highly recommend taking classes with Marilena for both adults or children.
— Chris C.
5/5 stars April 26, 2016
My daughter and I took a pasta making course with Marilena this past weekend and had a blast. Marilena did a fantastic job explaining everything about what we were doing and answering all our questions. We were definitely novices at this and Marilena coached us through everything. We ended up with a really tasty pasta meal and extra dough we took home so we can try it ourselves in the future. I highly recommend Marilena for a cooking class!
— Gary Cubbage
5/5 stars March 23, 2016
This was my first cooking class and I’ll definitely be back for another! Marilena is wonderful. She is patient, enthusiastic, gives very clear directions and tips, and designed a delicious menu for us to create. I learned a great deal and had fun during the process. I highly recommend signing up for a class; it is a fantastic experience!
— Rachel N.
5/5 stars February 27, 2016
I want to share our wonderful experience with Chef Marilena Leavitt for our Corporate Dinner party. My wife and I hosted 10 members of our corporate staff from across the country in the Harrison Apartment party kitchen. It is a lovely kitchen and Marilena made it a delicious dinning experience. We had a pre-party meeting with Marilena two weeks before the event where we developed a wonderful menu and a detailed plan for the evening. We covered everything from the wine to the 4 courses for the dinner and dessert. The menu was a traditional Italian dinner with many complimentary flavors. Marilena took care of all the details. On the night of the event everything was perfect. Each course was plated and served on schedule with a wonderful description of the menu item by Marilena. Marilena had a very dedicated assistant who made sure that the service was impeccable. The attendees all thought the dinner was marvelous. All have been to Italy on several trips – they remarked that this was the best Italian dinner they have tasted. The interaction of the attendees with Marilena made the whole event a special evening.
—Pat & Priscilla Talty
5/5 stars Sept 4, 2015
“I recently asked Marilena to cater a small event for me at my home (it ended up being for about 24 guests). I have known Marilena for years and had no doubt that everything would be perfect. Well, I was right! She started out by asking me what I had in mind for the party. We brainstormed some ideas and then she came over to check out my kitchen and to discuss the menu. She expanded on what I had asked for, and made several suggestions along the way. We finalized the menu fairly quickly with just a few adjustments.
On the Thursday prior to the party Marilena came by to finalize the platters for every dish – this was a huge time saver on the day of the event. The day of the party could not have gone more smoothly. Marilena and her wonderful assistant Deborah arrived an hour prior to the event and immediately took command of the kitchen. She had everything prepped and ready to go – really just using the oven/fridge to keep things hot/cold.
Marilena really went above and beyond on the presentation of the food. I know this is something she takes great pride in and she did such an amazing job arranging the buffet table. Everything looked absolutely perfect. And, of course, all of the dishes were just wonderful. My guests were truly raving about the food, particularly the chicken Marsala and also the beautiful poached salmon with yogurt and dill sauce. She also took extra care to make sure that there would be plenty of vegetarian items for my guests who did not eat chicken or fish. Finally, when the party was winding down, she and Deborah cleaned every inch of my kitchen, leaving it in better shape then they found it in!
I would highly, highly recommend Marilena to anyone looking for a caterer. She is so wonderful to work with, takes such pride in her work, and is an amazing Chef who cooks delicious, amazing food. A++++++”
5/5 stars March 21, 2015
I hired Marilena to work with my daughter over Spring break and i am so glad I did! My daughter thoroughly enjoyed the sessions with Marilena and she is now excited about cooking! She is planning meals to make and she now has the confidence that she can do it. The best gift I could have given my 21 year old! I am sure that we will be using Marilena again soon. She was flexible and easy to contact. I highly recommend Marilena Leavitt!
5/5 stars March 12, 2015
Marilena contacted me immediately and worked with us to select a menu for a 3-hour class from the incredibly huge selection on her web site. Her schedule was flexible and arrangements were effortless. We were able to participate hands-on to create a bread, biscotti, risotto, appetizer and delicious veal. She gave us tips along the way, copies of the recipes, lots of personal attention, and made it a wonderful sharing and learning experience. We then got to taste this fantastic meal, and even took home biscotti. She really inspired me to be creative in my cooking. My friend and I enjoyed it so much, we are returning in just a couple of weeks to learn a few delicious desserts! I highly recommend both Marilena and the experience!
5/5 stars March 9, 2015
My private cooking session with Marilena was one of the most enjoyable an inspirational cooking experiences in many years. As my children are now older and out of the house, I find that I don’t try new recipes and tend to go out more often. Now with this adventure in culinary proficiency, it has awakened my cooking senses and encouraged my creativity! My good friend organized this event as a special birthday surprise and she participated as well, and Marilena worked with us both to develop our menu. We prepared as Starters….. bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with smoked paprika asiago cheese and sea salt & rosemary focaccia. Our main course was butter squash risotto with pine nuts, balsamic drizzle and fried sage with veal alla saltibocca! For dessert, we made biscotti with roasted almonds and hazelnuts. After preparing and cooking the food, we then sat down and enjoyed a most delicious meal . Everything tasted absolutely wonderful and after this experience, we decided that we wanted to come back and try again! Marilena stood by us every step of the way and offered her special tips and expertise! I would recommended this to any cooking aficionado or like me, a person who might be finding their way back to cooking!
5/5 stars February 22, 2015
“Marilena was highly skilled and knowledgeable while also being very down-to-earth and personable. We had detailed discussions about the class menu ahead of time and then, in person, discussed my experience level and she then catered her instruction to that level so I never felt like I was “wasting my time” with something I already knew how to do. I honestly can’t think of a way she could have improved. I would go back to her again and would highly recommend her classes to people of every level!”
5/5 stars February 21, 2015
“Marilena customized a cupcake baking private class for my daughter’s 12th birthday. It was fabulous. My daughter learned so much and loved every minute of it. Marilena is wonderful!”
5/5 stars February 7, 2015
“Marilena Leavitt is a true gem! After donning the aprons Marilena provided, my friends & I spent a delightful afternoon recently learning how to make & bake bread in her home. She was well prepared with ingredients, cooking utensils, & everything we needed to be hands on in her kitchen. We were each given a set of recipes & tips so that we could go home & bake with confidence. After we completed the baking process, we were invited to sit at her kitchen table & enjoy all three types of yummy breads we had made. I can’t think of one single thing that would have improved my experience. She’s awesome & I will definitely do this again!”
5/5 stars February 6, 2015
“I had heard about Marilena from friends who had taken her cooking classes. I knew I wanted to take a class from her, but am not so fond of cooking…however, I love baking! So, my first class with her was Bread Making. Marilena is warm, welcoming and funny, but one of her best traits is that she is not judgmental. I did not feel like I was taking a class, rather that I was with a friend who was excited to share her love of food. I came away with some wonderful bread recipes and skills that I can’t wait to try on my own. I have a hunch that I may even try a cooking class next. Marilena is five star-wonderful.”
5/5 stars February 6, 2015
“Marilena is a JOY to work with and to learn from. She truly loves cooking and teaching others to cook and it shows in everything she does. She has a terrific sense of humor and always keeps her classes light and relaxed. No matter how little you know, she has a way of making you feel knowledgeable and empowered by the time you are done her class. I can’t recommend her enough!”
5/5 stars January 30, 2015
“Allow me to preface my remarks by stating that I am not an experienced cook or student of the culinary arts. I do enjoy good food and delight in learning how it is made by real cooks. I happen to be a scientist of sorts and love to learn about the “science” as well as the “art” of cooking. I have had the pleasure of taking many cooking classes with my wife at Culinaria Cooking School and have simply rejoiced in taking classes from Marilena Leavitt. She is not only lovely and gracious but is simply a fascinating and delightful teacher. She teaches from the heart and laces her classes with pleasant stories of her early cooking experiences in Mediterranean kitchens. She makes everyone in her classes comfortable with good humor and has a terrific teaching style of both culinary arts as well as culinary techniques. I have never seen anything but big smiles upon the faces of her students as we depart from class. And the recipes are ones that we cannot wait to make at home.”
–Dr. Ian S.
5/5 stars December 24, 2014
“We have loved her food and really enjoyed having her at our home.”
5/5 stars December 16, 2014
“Marilena is a wonderful chef and patient teacher. During my cooking sessions she focused on both cooking technique and menu planning. The meals are healthy and flavorful. As a working mom with small children, I appreciate that many of the recipes can be made quickly and that she is very flexible and modified many of the recipes for food allergies. We worked on meals for both home and dinner parties. The sessions were about 3 hours in length. She does a great job and I can’t suggest any improvements.”
5/5 stars December 15, 2014
“I have been taking a series of in home cooking classes with Marilena. The food is simple and delicious and easy to do on my own. Most enjoyable is learning general cooking techniques that recipes don’t teach you – knife skills, recipe improvisation and general rules of thumb when cooking.”
5/5 stars December 12, 2014
“Marilena is the best chef and instructor you could ever hope for! She taught three generations of our family one Sunday afternoon in our home and we would welcome her back with open arms. She is amazingly talented and she taught us so much, and so many kitchen tricks, in a short time. The meal was memorable. She is kind, warm, fun, helpful, brilliant, and hard-working. I cannot say enough about her!”
5/5 stars December 6, 2014
“Marilena cooked dinner at my home recently for a party we were having to celebrate a milestone birthday. She was so fabulous, I can’t recommend her highly enough. It was very easy to plan the menu with her, the food came out amazing, and her warm presence in the kitchen during the party added to the ambiance. The food was so delicious that friends are still talking about it a month later! Her specialty is Greek and Italian cuisine. She really went the extra mile to make sure the event was a success – giving copies of recipes to every guest plus a little shortbread/chocolate cookie to go. Such a fun evening!”
Culinaria Cooking Class – Yelp Reviews
5/5 stars May 14, 2015
“I took a class “Cooking Your Way Through Italy I – Northern Italy” with Chef Marilena Leavitt, and I thought it was great! There was the right mix of participation and demonstration. Chef Marilena was passionate about her cooking and a fantastic instructor. She not only explained the dishes and cooking techniques in such a way that I could understand what to do, but she took time to show us on the map of Italy where different foods and food preparation techniques come from – giving me a better understanding of some of the regional differences in Italian dishes. I am excited to be following up this class with its companion “Cooking Your Way Through Italy II – Southern Italy” in a few weeks … my mouth waters as I read the menu for that night. Because not only was the class itself great, but the RECIPES were absolutely sumptuous, and you get to take the recipe packet home to recreate this deliciousness on your own. One other thing – as I walked into Culinaria for the first time, I was warmly greeted by the very friendly receptionist. She welcomed me, told me what a great class I was in for (and I was!) with Marilena – a really great instructor (and she is!) and just really made me feel very much at home. Super nice!”
— Lorraine Weaver Jackson
5/5 stars December 16, 2015
“I have taken multiple cooking classes with Marilena Leavitt. She is, professional, an excellent and patient teacher and an outstanding chief! Her classes are fun and very educational. The food tastes amazing, but more importantly I have improved my own cooking skills from what I have learned from her. Prior to classes with Marilena I considered myself to be a good cook but now I cook with confidence. I have learned to do things I would never try on my own. For example when I took her class on pressure cookers, my first thought was, really I will never use a pressure cooker. But after her class I was not only able to use a pressure cooker but I also now understand why “pressure” cooking makes sense. She has taught me how easy filo dough is to work with and how easy it is to make spanakopita and baklava, things I never would have attempted on my own. I could go on and on about all the amazing dishes Marilena Leavitt has taught me. On one final note I must say I have never met a kinder and caring person than Marilena. She is truly awesome. I love all her cooking classes. Culinaria Cooking School has been an outstanding addition to the town of Vienna. Never a bad class!”
5/5 stars December 30, 2015
“Marilena is professional, knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful. She specializes in Greek, Italian, and bread making. Because most of her classes are “participation” and the food we make is not served until we are finished cooking it, she always makes sure that we have a little something to eat before we get started while she explains the recipes and what we will be doing. I can honestly say that everything I have learned from her has been simple and delicious and I feel totally confident making these same recipes at home. I would highly recommend taking any class that she teaches.”
5/5 stars November 18, 2014
“I have attended multiple classes at Culinaria [Cooking School] with multiple instructors (my favorite being Marilena Leavitt, but I have never had a poor instructor). My experience includes adult classes and a family class (bread-baking with my boys and their uncle). Also, my boys attended the summer camp for kids, then later the summer camp for teens. As a family, we have had 100% positive experiences! The facility is really beautiful and really clean. The instructors are very organized. The experience is lots of fun and no grunt work (the staff does all of the clean up, so you get to have fun cooking and eating … and then go home). The variety of classes is diverse – there’s something for everyone. As a final note, I would like to point out that I have attended cooking classes at more than one cooking school in the area and Culinaria is by far the best around. I’m pretty sure I would pick a class to attend weekly if I had the time!”
5/5 stars October 30, 2014
“Marilena Leavitt is a wonderful teacher and a talented chef! We enjoyed her class so much! She is highly organized, with all of her ingredients prepped beforehand and all equipment ready to go. At the beginning of class, each participant receives his/her own nicely-printed set of recipes for the dishes on the menu, and they obviously have been tested carefully -no guesswork on ingredients or amounts. They work – I have prepared them very successfully at home. Marilena has a lovely way with people, making everyone feel as if they were with her in her own kitchen! She is truly interested in teaching people how to cook delicious, healthy food, and how to present it beautifully with little extra effort. Marilena explains the recipes and her methods clearly, thoroughly, and logically, and she welcomes any and all questions. She makes cooking simple and accessible to everyone, regardless of skill level, and she works at a comfortable pace. At the same time, she entertains you with interesting and useful commentary about the cuisine and the ingredients as she works! Best of all, Marilena’s recipes are delicious! Her menus are elegant and appealing -perfect for entertaining as well as everyday dining. You will love cooking with Marilena!”
–Leo and Dianne K.
5/5 stars October 9, 2014
“I have taken several classes at Culinaria and enjoyed every one. The instructors are knowledgeable, helpful, and encouraging. I went home after a class on “Easy Soups and Bread” believing I could bake bread and thanks to Chef Marilena, I have! My favorite class, “Homemade Gifts from the Kitchen” was offered just before the holidays last year. I had a great time with my classmates making and tasting Orange & Almond Biscotti, Port Wine Cheese Spread and Sweet & Spicy Candied Pecans (just a sampling of the recipes). Again, Chef Marilena gave me the confidence I needed to tweak her recipe and make dried cherry and pistachio biscotti at home. Not only did my family enjoy these treats, they were well received as hostess gifts. I look forward to my next class at Culinaria.”
5/5 stars May 16, 2014
Weeknight Italian Cooking Class was fantastic! Marilena was funny, helpful and she made this evening very enjoyable. I will be returning, hopefully to another one if her classes. It’s our wedding anniversary this weekend and we are so glad we did this!