Culinard in Richmond - Culinary Arts School Faculty

Program Director


Chef Michael McGhee

Chef McGhee is a President's List graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality and restaurant industry.

His experience includes corporate chef positions with Restaurants America, Ri Ra Irish Pubs and Golden Bear Club services. He owned restaurants in five countries and worked in New York City under the four star chef, Daniel Boulud. Chef McGhee has appeared on numerous television cooking shows representing his unique take on local and sustainable food products and how they can be used in classic cuisine. Chef McGhee is on the board of the American Diabetes Association. As a diabetic, he works to create an understanding that good food can be healthy.

Chef Instructors


Chef Lara Brown

Chef Brown studied Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Norfolk, Va. and chose Ireland for her externship. Lara continued her acquisition of skills in the kitchen of an Irish two-Michelin Star restaurant, Sheen Falls Lodge.

Returning to the states, Chef Brown moved to upstate New York and fell in love with pastry, becoming a protégé for three years to Jerome Druart, a former Pastry Chef at Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck Restaurant in Great Britain.

Shortly thereafter, Chef Brown took on the title of Pastry Chef for The Chef's Garden, a farm committed to the practice of sustainable agriculture. She learned about horticulture and how to grow, harvest, and cook some of the finest vegetables and herbs in the world.

Most recently, Chef Brown worked at Eleven Madison Park, a Three Michelin Star restaurant in New York City, as the Pastry Sous Chef. There, she worked beside Angela Pinkerton, who won the James Beard Foundation award for best pastry chef in 2011.

Chef Brown has a passion for cooking, teaching, and mentoring her students to become the next great chefs.


Chef Daniel Graban

Chef Graban, originally from Madrid, Spain, has over 20 years of culinary experience.

He trained at the Escuela Superior de Hosteleria Y Turismo (High School of Culinary Arts and Tourism) in Madrid, the oldest culinary arts school in Spain. There, he worked with Michelin Guide star chefs from the Spanish and international culinary scene. He worked in several Mediterranean restaurants and cooked for the Spanish Royal Family.

His culinary experience includes an externship in England at the Huddersfield Technical College. He also worked for the Hotel Hesperia in Madrid, a five-star hotel, and is a member of the LHW (The Leading Hotels of the World) and Five Star Alliance. Before he moved to Virginia he served as chef at Turning Stone Casino and Resort in Verona N.Y, The Lodge, a Four-Diamond property, and as Executive Sous Chef for Marriott Renaissance Hotels.


Chef David Hughes

Chef Hughes is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality and restaurant industry.

His culinary experience includes Executive Chef/Owner of Graffiti Grille in Richmond, Executive Chef of The Soul Kitchen in Anguilla, British West Indies, Executive Sous Chef at Hermitage Country Club in Manakin-Sabot, Va. and Executive Consulting Chef for Hotel La Mariposa in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.

As a chef instructor for Culinard, Chef Hughes uses his education and real world experience to train the next generation of chefs. He believes that hard work and a passion for the industry can take you anywhere in the world and allow you to build a successful culinary career.


Chef Patty Thorpe

Chef Thorpe graduated on the Dean's List from Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, Fla. She is a member of the American Culinary Federation, is ServSafe certified and has been a professional in the culinary field for over two decades.

Before coming to Culinard, Chef Thorpe worked as Executive Chef at Sin'e Irish Pub in downtown Richmond, overseeing all aspects of a high-volume scratch kitchen. She also owned and operated a successful catering company in Richmond.

Chef Thorpe is married and has three children and two grown stepchildren.

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