Shanna Horner O’Hea, who holds dual citizenship in Ireland (courtesy of her immigrant grandfather) and the United States, grew up on the go, with childhood years spent in Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island and Illinois. She earned an undergraduate degree in art in 1994 from North Park University (Chicago, IL), enriching her college years with study abroad experiences in England and Italy. After a sojourn in Seattle (WA), which included a marketing position at the Starbucks plant with the requisite latte making, and stints as a line cook at a wharf restaurant in Cundy’s Harbor (ME) and a culinary intern with ARAMARK Campus Dining Services at M.I.T. (Cambridge, MA), Shanna attended the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), graduating in 1998. Her CIA externship saw her traveling again – this time to Florida on assignment with the Four Seasons Hotel (Palm Beach, FL). Shanna’s post-CIA career began in 1999 with her employment at one of New York City’s most prestigious residences as assistant to Michel Boulard, former pastry chef to the King of Belgium and one of the City’s premier, private French chefs. She and Chef Boulard spent the summer months in London, where the social events of the household took on an international and even royal flavor. In 2001, Shanna accepted the position of private chef and estate manager for a prominent Westchester County (NY) family.
Brain O’Hea grew up on Long Island (NY) and was destined to become a New York City policeman – at least that would have been the bet, given the fact that his paternal grandfather was a New York City policeman, as was his father, as was his older brother. Brian’s early passions were soccer, hockey and the New York Yankees. His introduction to the food industry came during high school when he began working part-time for the Bagel Boss Café, an affiliation he maintained through college. Following high school Brian decided to test the waters of a culinary career by enrolling in the Restaurant Management program of Nassau Community College – graduating in 1996. Two internship experiences with Walt Disney World (Orlando, FL) at the Dixie Landing Resort and the Grand Floridian Resort exposed him to the possibilities of life in a high quality kitchen. Still hedging his bets by retaining his application option in the New York City Police Academy, Brian enrolled in the Culinary Arts program of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Several significant occurrences at the CIA between 1997 and 1998 gave shape to Brian’s future professional and life plans. First, both his classroom experiences and his externship at the Ocean Reef Club (Key Largo, FL) confirmed his long-term interest in the kitchen. Second, his introduction to a CIA classmate, Shanna Horner, led to their marriage in 2001 at an historic inn on the coast of Maine. Following graduation from the CIA, Brian took a position as Executive Chef in the Campus Dining Services division of ARAMARK before moving on to become a private chef for a prominent French family in New York City. He then joined the culinary staff of the 5757 Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel (New York City), followed by a similar position with the Greenwich Country Club (CT).
Since 2003, Shanna and Brian have been the Chef-Owners of The Kennebunk Inn (Kennebunk, ME). Their 1799 property, with its 26 guest rooms and suites and a 100-seat restaurant, anchors Kennebunk’s Main Street. Shanna and Brian recreated the Inn’s restaurant as Academe Maine Brasserie and Tavern. The menu of Academe is intentionally broad and the style of service is informal to cater to year-round residents and tourist patrons from around the world. The classical pastry skills Shanna learned from Chef Boulard underlay the dessert creations of Academe.
Academe was featured on the Food Network show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the “Reinventing Classics” episode (January 3, 2011). “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” is the ultimate guide to the country's most amazing meals, eats, and treats as told by the professionals who spend their lives obsessing about food. Chef Cat Cora, the first female American Iron Chef, author of two cookbooks, Chef of Bon Appetit Magazine, and founder and president of Chefs for Humanity, selected Academe’s signature dish, Lobster Pot Pie.
Shanna competed on “Chopped” the acclaimed Food Network program, in March 2012. Although she was “Chopped” after the entrée round, her presence was well received and The Inn and Academe have received numerous visitors since the episode aired.
Brian and Shanna officially launched Maine Lobster Pot Pie Shipping in August 2012. The website is devoted to the O’Hea’s Maine specialties and shipping fresh Maine lobster and seafood over-night across the United States.
The Kennebunk Inn and Academe were featured on the Travel Channel show “Food Paradise, ” which focuses on the best eats around the country (November 7, 2012). The signature Lobster Pot Pie was one of the features of the episode “Pot Pie Paradise.” In addition, the Travel Channel highlighted their Maine Lobster White Truffle Pizza, which is quickly becoming another fan favorite.
The contemporary culinary creativity of Shanna and Brian set in a late 18th century historic inn has been noted in numerous recent reviews. As one reviewer put it, “The youthful energy of owners and chefs Brian O’Hea and Shanna Katherine Horner O’Hea has transformed the dining room of the Kennebunk Inn into Academe, a top notch brasserie where the quality of the cuisine is matched only by the cozy fireplace-warmed atmosphere.” (Down East Magazine.)
Shanna and Brian enjoy travel for culinary inspiration and professional development. Listed below are a series of Food and Wine events that Shanna and Brian have participated as Guest Chefs (past and upcoming).