Best Date Night Spot
2020 Massachusetts Ave.
While Sean Leonard has only been the executive director, CEO, and co-owner of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts (CSCA) since last January, the school has been in his life for more than 20 years.
“They were like parents to me,” he says of Roberta Dowling, who started the school in 1974, and her husband Bill.
Leonard graduated from the school in 1996, and later became its recreational coordinator/director. He was part of a team that started couples cooking classes in 2002—a relatively novel idea at the time that has developed into one of the school’s most popular offerings.
The cooking classes were a jumpstart to the school’s recreational programming, which has since blossomed to complement its professional programs. Courses range from lessons on how to make macarons or temper chocolate to “Thanksgiving 101” to “Cooking Couples Vegetarian Tapas.”
“It’s just evolving—we’re trying to keep up with what people want, so that’s how the recreational program in the CSCA runs,” he says. “There’s constantly classes being posted.”
After Roberta passed away in 2015, Leonard dreamed of taking over the business and “carrying on the legacy.” When asked what that legacy is to him, he answers, “It is emotional for me … [Roberta and Bill] would just embrace people, and support them, and bring out what they had in them … There’s nothing like seeing a person come in, day one, and seeing them leave when they graduate.”
Leonard has also pushed the CSCA to get more involved in its community, working with organizations including Community Cooks and Community Servings.
If Leonard had to choose just one class, he’d opt for “Regions of Italy.” “That was Roberta’s thing—she loved Italy, there’s where she went almost every year. And our program is influenced by European classical techniques.”