Alumni Spotlight

Culinary Leaders and Inspiration

Our alumni family comprises restaurant and small business owners, chefs, food writers, food stylists, sommeliers, culinary instructors, and business consultants. Many have been featured in local and national newspapers and magazines, and several have participated in shows including Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, The Taste, Cupcakes Wars, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and Food Network Challenge. As any of our alumni will tell you, your culinary career post graduation is limited only by your imagination!

Mary Ting Hyatt
Baker/Owner of Bagelsaurus

“The home-cooks I met, cafés I visited, and flavors I experienced during a semester of study abroad in Buenos Aires, introduced me to a food culture I knew I had to be part of. Since I lacked the industry experience and thus the confidence to dive head first into the culinary world, the four-month Culinary Certificate program at CSCA offered a great introduction. After fully engaging with the coursework and instructors, transferring into the full PCP program was easy.”

After graduating from the Professional Chef’s Program at CSCA in 2008, Mary dove straight into a thriving culinary career. She worked the line under Chef Barry Maiden at Hungry Mother, and interned with the talented team at America’s Test Kitchen, before taking a Pastry Cook position at Clear Flour Bread. Following this role, Mary worked at Cutty’s in Brookline for over three years, where her strong relationship with owners Charles and Rachel Kelsey allowed her the space and support to launch Bagelsaurus as a weekly pop-up out of their shop.

Today, Mary is the Baker/Owner of a tiny brick and mortar bakery just down the street from CSCA. Bagelsaurus is well known for exceptional bagels with crisp, crackly skin and chewy, airy insides accompanied by unique cream cheeses and spreads made in house. The space is frequently packed with neighborhood patrons and travelers across the greater Boston area who cannot wait to get their hands on some of the best bagels around.

“CSCA offered me the foundations and techniques I needed to cook with confidence, and the space and opportunity to experiment.”

— Mary Ting Hyatt

Meet More Featured Alumni

Chef Karen Headshot3 photo credit Matt Kurkowski crop

Karen Akunowicz, PCP 2005
Executive Chef and Partner at Myers+Chang

“Cook! Explore the restaurant industry, so many students I talk to want to be personal chefs or caterers –  I miss seeing young people dying to work at great restaurants.”

2018 James Beard Winner for Best Chef Northeast! After graduating from the Professional Chef’s Program at CSCA, Karen Akunowicz started her culinary career at Ten Tables in Jamaica Plain. She went on to cook at Via Matta in Boston’s Back Bay and jumped at the opportunity to travel to Modena, Italy where she staged in an Osteria making pasta before becoming the Chef at L’Avion blu Enoteca. Upon her return to the States, Karen worked as Ana Sortun’s Sous Chef at Oleana. Her next career change brought her to United Teen Equality Center Lowell where she created the Fresh Roots Culinary Program, teaching culinary arts to Lowell’s most disengaged youth and helping them find employment in the field. Today, she is thriving at Myers+Chang, where she co-authored Myers+Chang at Home and was called one of the “21 Badass Women Changing the Food World” by Marie Claire Magazine. She also competed and was a fan favorite on Bravo TV’s Emmy nominated show “Top Chef” as well as the Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay.”

Matthew Barre, PCP 2005
Executive Chef at Farm & Fries

“CSCA was a wonderful time for me. I felt for the first time that I was a successful student… To prospective students, soak up every bit of information available. Take notes! Everyone at the school has valuable information to share, so constantly ask questions and never, ever miss a class.”

Following his graduation from the Professional Chef’s Program in 2005, Matthew Barre worked at many area restaurants climbing the ranks from Sous Chef at Sonsie Restaurant to Executive Chef at the Tap Trailhouse. He moved south in 2016, working at Erling Jensen The Restaurant until landing his current Executive Chef position at Farm & Fries.

Ben Cooper, PPP 2016
Co-Owner at House of Sweetness

“Leaving the Coast Guard and going to CSCA has completely changed my life. I initially wanted to simply improve my skills in baking as well as cooking, but as I progressed through the Pastry Program, my confidence level grew and I was able to get creative. I believe CSCA really gave me everything I need to get started and I am thankful for the family you all have become.”

After 12 years of service with the U.S. Coast Guard, Ben completely shifted gears when he enrolled in the Professional Pastry Program at CSCA in 2016. His wife Amber Ambasta-Cooper founded and ran a successful bakery in Petaluma, California, which sold when the family moved east. Together they relaunched House of Sweetness in Billerica, Massachusetts, leaning on friends and family who support their dream and helped make it a reality.

Emma Christensen, PCP 2008
Managing Editor at Simply Recipes

“I chose CSCA because it welcomed older students, because it fit my schedule (day job, night classes), and because it gave a solid grounding in techniques and cuisines from around the world. I wanted to learn EVERYTHING!”

After completing the Professional Chef’s Program at CSCA, Emma Christensen landed a job at The Kitchn, advancing to Associate Food Editor in 2016. Working with the popular online publication, Emma collaborated on the James Beard award-winning The Kitchn Cookbook and wrote and managed countless “how to” articles, weekly meal plans, and features. She has written three cookbooks of her own on the art of homebrewing and now serves as Managing Editor at Simply Recipes.

Tzu-i Chuang Mullinax, PCP 2007
TV Personality / Author

“Grab any chance to learn. If you aim to be a food personality beyond cooking in the kitchen, then it’s essential to broaden and diversify your skill set. Learn photography and food styling, practice writing, read anything food related, travel far and wide, and always be ready to eat new things. Knife skills and butchering sessions elevated me from an accomplished home cook to a professional. The entire baking component broadened the scope of my savory palate and skill set. I assisted in lots of classes and outside events. It was fun and valuable training for the real world of cooking.”

Following her graduation from the CSCA Professional Chef’s Program in 2007, Tzu-i Chuang Mullinax has become one of the most influential food writers in the Chinese speaking world. Based in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tzu-i is known locally as the “Anthropologist in the Kitchen” and explores the commonalities and differences across culinary traditions in her popular cooking shows and books.

Rachel Elman O’Shea, PCP 2008
Co-Founder / Cheesemaker at Laos Buffalo Dairy

“The classes allowed me to explore my artistic side and create many different and interesting things while learning all about the food cultures of other countries. This is part of what encouraged me to go and live internationally!”

Rachel’s culinary career has literally taken her around the world. While a CSCA student, she owned and operated a custom cake business DBA Cakes by Rachel. A few years later, she packed up and moved to Asia, working as a Catering Manager and Professional Trainer with Expat Kitchen, a cooking school in Singapore that helps its students overcome language barriers and find commonality through food. In 2014, Rachel joined a team of likeminded expats to launch Laos Buffalo Dairy in Luang Prabang, bringing quality buffalo milk products including delicious cheese to the area for the first time.

Marcos Sanchez, PCP 2005
Chef de Cuisine at Tasting Counter

“CSCA gave me a classical foundation preparing me for all the challenges I’ve faced. Encompassing an intensive training in traditional Italian cooking, French Cuisine and Modern Technique has been key.”

Marcos Sanchez traveled from California to attend CSCA. Following graduation, Marcos began teaching in our Recreational Programs and working as a Sous Chef at Restaurant Dante. In 2011, he opened Tres Gatos as the Executive Chef, holding this title until he joined Tasting Counter in 2015, which specializes in modern cuisine and offering exceptional multi-sensory dining experiences to guests. He welcomes student field trips and regularly joins the CSCA family at our alumni BBQs.