our team

Hue-Chan Karels
Owner & Managing Principal

In 2007, Hue-Chan, encouraged by her supportive husband, John, had the inspiration to make a lifestyle change and depart from her FDA regulatory and compliance consulting practice to start an artisan cookie business.  After years of struggle to find an affordable licensed commercial kitchen, Hue-Chan decided to open her own culinary space.  With some reshaping of her original vision, Open Kitchen became a reality in the fall of 2009.  Hue-Chan and her team have created a truly a unique culinary space providing guests with a culinary retreat… a place to relax, unwind and share in the joy of food, wine, and community.

Stephanie Barrett
Culinary Instructor

Stephanie Barrett brings her passions for global and seasonal cooking to all of her endeavors.  Culinary research and education have been mainstays of Stephanie’s travels to more than 30 countries and counting.   She strongly believes in the power of food to bring people of diverse backgrounds together!

While living in Belgium for five years, Stephanie expanded her culinary horizons by travelling extensively and sampling and learning about as many European cuisines as possible. During her travels, Stephanie undertook informal education in French and Italian wines and Belgian beer at every opportunity. She has undertaken ad hoc culinary training in Paris, France at Le Cordon Bleu as well as informal culinary education in many other countries and settings.   Stephanie supplemented her European culinary education at home by completing an internship with Swiss Bakery in Springfield, Virginia.

Along with being a chef instructor at Open Kitchen, Stephanie is Sous Chef of the Culinary Program at Willowsford Farm in Loudoun County, where she creates seasonal food products for the Farm Stand; plans, organizes and cooks for events; and instructs culinary classes.  Stephanie also teaches at L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda.

John-Michael Hamlet
Culinary Instructor

Chef John-Michael Hamlet developed his passion for fine cuisine at an early age. At 15, he began his culinary career working in various restaurant kitchens around his hometown in Northern Virginia. In high school, he was awarded a coveted 2-week stint at Le Cordon Bleu, in London, England by Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), founded by Richard Grausman. Upon graduating in 1996 from the Culinary Institute of America, he ventured north to Boston where he continued to hone his skills at L’Espalier, one of the city’s top kitchens, under Chef Frank McClelland. In 2002, Chef John-Michael returned to the Northern Virginia region and worked as the Executive Chef at Stone Manor Inn in Middletown, MD and earned a spot on Washingtonian Magazine’s “100 Very Best Restaurants” list. In 2007, Chef John-Michael opened John-Michael’s Restaurant in North Salem, NY, fulfilling his lifelong dream of owning his own restaurant. In the 3 ½ years the restaurant was in operation, Chef John-Michael and his dedicated staff received numerous awards in the Westchester area and was ranked as one of the top 15 restaurants in Westchester by The New York Times. During this time, John Michael appeared as a contestant on the Food Network’s popular competition show “Chopped.” Chef John-Michael is thrilled to be back in Northern Virginia and has three wonderful children, Gavin (11), Samuel (6) and Olivia (6).

Katie Reineberg
Culinary Instructor

A Northern Virginia native, Chef Katie Reineberg has years of experience in multiple areas of the local culinary industry, including recreational and professional teaching, catering, and restaurant work. Growing up, Katie always loved to cook (with a great grandfather who was a pastry chef she jokes that food is “in her blood”), but it wasn’t until she took a nutrition course in college at Virginia Tech (where she was studying to be a Journalist) that she considered making food her life.

After earning dual professional degrees Culinary Arts and Culinary Nutrition, from Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina and Providence, Rhode Island, she spent time working in corporate research and development in Boston before moving back to the DC area to teach.  Her passion for seasonal, local ingredients is apparent in everything she makes, but her real goal as an instructor is to get students excited about the food we eat and to show people that healthy food can be simple and satisfying.

Christopher Carey
Culinary Instructor

Chef Christopher Carey, joins the Open Kitchen team with years of professional experience under his belt.  Chef Carey is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu of Paris, France, and The French Culinary Institute of New York City.  He is also a graduate of Fordham University, located in New York City, with a Bachelor’s degree in economics.  Christopher’s personal cooking style exemplifies the use of local seasonal ingredients, farmers markets, and ageless cooking techniques.  He is convinced that the best-tasting food is organically and locally grown and harvested in ways that are ecologically sound by people who are taking care of the Earth for future generations.

Christopher’s prior culinary experience includes The Wine Kitchen in Leesburg, the Goodstone Inn and Estate in Middleburg, the Ashby Inn of Paris, VA and the Clifton Inn in Charlottesville.  He has received numerous awards and honors such as a two star review from The Washington Post, been invited to cook at the renowned James Beard House in New York City, featured on an episode of Food Network’s “Country Inns of Virginia,” and honored as one of the “Best Chefs of Washington,” and achieved the DiRona Award. Chef Christopher is also a chef instructor at Stratford University in Falls Church.


Leo Dilling
Culinary Instructor

Leo Dilling is a professional chef instructor at the Art Institute of Washington. His classes include Garde Manger, Fundamentals of Cooking, Asian Cuisine, and American Regional Cuisine. Prior to this teaching career he owned a fine dining restaurant, Corbels in Southern Maryland. He has worked as a Sous Chef at many of the metro areas top restaurants, including Michel by Michel Richard and Blacksalt Restaurant. Mr. Dilling has a B.A. in History from University of Mary Washington and a Diplome de Cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa, Canada.

Sean Lougheed
Culinary Instructor & Chocolatier

Chef Sean Lougheed is an award winning graduate of Montreal’s L’Institute de Tourisme et d’Hotelerie du Quebec. He specializes in European pastry arts and chocolate is his passion. He trained under a Swiss Chocolatier, learning the artisanal methods of producing fresh, preservative-free confections. The chocolates are produced in small batches and are completely hand-made, incorporating fresh, wholesome ingredients.

His professional experiences have led him through teaching pastry art at culinary schools, working within the pastry department of The Inn at little Washington, and providing private chocolate classes.

Timothy Clune
Wine Expert

Wine Expert Timothy Clune brings to the Open Kitchen team over 30 years experience in the hospitality business and has spent his life devoted to learning about food and wine. He began honing his expertise in wine at the age of 21, and has never turned down an opportunity to learn something new in his field. He is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, and has an Advanced Certificate with Merit from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. Timothy enjoys sharing his passion for food and wine and teaching others about wines of the world.

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