Q: What was your first industry job?
A: Working as general kitchen help, primarily focusing on their french fry production. Each night I’d peel, wash and cut up 100 lbs of potatoes. But this was the end of a long story. I had approached the owner of this busy hamburger operation and asked if he would consider entering into a partnership with me where I would plant potatoes and he would buy all of my crop for his french fries. We set on a price of $7/100 lbs and I made arrangements with my father to rent an acre of land for my project. Living in southern Alberta, I experienced first hand during that growing season what a drought was, and ended up using my father’s 500-gal. water tank to water my crop manually. By harvest time, the crop had a lot of potatoes but they were all miniature, and the yield in 100-lb bags was extremely small. I went back to the restaurant owner and explained my situation and expressed an interest in doubling my money by offering to come down each night after school and peeling 100 lbs of potatoes for an additional $7/bag. He agreed and this was the start of my restaurant experience at the tender age of 11.
Q: Who has been your mentor?
A: An early mentor was Bruno Marti who inspired me to get involved in my passion and make a difference.
Q: What was it about food research that drew you into this area of the profession?
A: My mother suffered later in life from the consumption of wheat gluten, so I became interested in finding alternative products to help maintain some normality in her diet. My recipe for wild rice pasta was a huge hit, and I started looking into the possibility of packaging and selling it. At the same time I became the chair of jurors for the Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards hosted by the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors. These two ingredients in my life opened up doors of opportunity for starting Mava Foods Ltd.
Q: How would you describe your culinary philosophy?
A: Eat fresh, eat local, eat healthy!
Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: My job isn’t work, it’s a passion and thus I do it seven days a week. The best part of it is having the ability to create products from start to finish and then seeing them on a grocery store shelf. When a customer calls you to ask where they can pick up a Food for Life product they have had elsewhere at a store near them, it’s the icing on the cake!