Staff

Chris Becker
Chris Becker BS, MSL, CEO
Chef, educator, author and restaurateur. As the Founder of the California School of Culinary Arts and the Kitchen Academy, Chris has been the creative force behind the most significant culinary programs in the United States for three decades. In 2000 he was part of the team that brought Le Cordon Bleu to North America and introduced the classic French canon to culinary education. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, a Masters of Science in Leadership from Walden University and was awarded an Honorary Grande Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu in 2004 for his lifetime contributions to education.
Carol Cotner Thompson
Carol Cotner Thompson Director of Culinary Education
A true industry veteran, Carol Cotner Thompson has over 33 years professional cooking experience and over 24 years experience in culinary education. A graduate of both the professional cooking and pastry programs at the California Culinary Academy, Thompson has since taken on a wide array of professional endeavors, including restaurant consulting, television and print food styling and on-camera chef work, recipe and curriculum development and stints as a personal chef. Thompson organizes a yearly culinary retreat to Southern France with the program Raison D’Art to explore the countryside and inspire students to engage in France’s unique culinary environment.
Briana Bielucke
Briana Bielucke AOS, Advanced Pastry Instructor
As the Head Baker for Susie’s Cakes Briana oversaw production and training for one of the busiest production bakeries in Southern California. This masterful pastry expert brings candy, confection, artisan breads and the entire portfolio of the seasoned pastry chef to New School. She is a 2006 graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Portland, Oregon.
May Hennemann
May Hennemann AOS, BA, Chef Instructor – Recreational and Professional Programs
May has been a member of the New School faculty since 2001. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in 1998, chef had a varied career in fine food before becoming a teacher, including private chef, pastry chef, food writer and food buyer. May holds an Associates of Occupational Studies Degree in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of American and a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of Chicago.
Laura Weinman
Laura Weinman AOS, Chef Instructor – Recreational and Professional Programs
Laura has been cooking professionally since before attending the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco in 1986. Laura joined the New School staff in 2006, and brings to our students a wealth of experience – over 30 years - and a wide and varied skill set in the savory and pastry kitchen as well as experience in specialty diets and health related food service. Laura completed the 16 months Culinary Arts Program at the California Culinary Academy in addition to coursework in philosophy at Georgetown University.
Jessica Hilton
Jessica Hilton BA, Instructor – Recreational and Professional Programs
Chef Hilton is a 2003 graduate of New School of Cooking and holds credentials in Nutrition as an Educator and Consultant from Bauman College in Berkeley, California as well as a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from Drew University. Chef has worked extensively as a personal chef and teacher and has been a member of the New School since 2010 teaching in both the ProSeries and recreational classes.
Justin Hakola
Justin Hakola Master Butcher
Chef Hakola is a graduate of the California School of Culinary Arts and has been a butcher at Bristol Farms since graduation in 1999. An avid beer maker and gardener, Chef Hakola brings his expertise in butchery to New School of Cooking several times each year when he teaches the butchering classes.
J.B. Severin
J.B. Severin Sommelier
J.B. Severin is the General Manager of The Wine House, one of the Los Angeles area’s largest and most prestigious wine retailers. In his capacity as General Manager, he is also the Dean of the Wine House Seminar and Tasting Program which conducts over 200 public and private events every year. He is WSET trained, has over 25 years experience in the wine industry and is recognized as one of the premier wine educators in the city.