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Our Dedicated Team

diverse backgrounds + quality expertise

Great brands are like great meals. If you have the right people at the table, it makes for an extraordinary experience. At Little Kitchen Academy, we have the right people seated at our table, who are like-minded, passionate, experienced individuals whom have all been part of developing some of the greatest brands and most well-known companies in the world. Together we are Changing Lives From Scratch!

Founder, President, COO & Director

Felicity Curin

In her circle, Felicity is known as the ”best cook ever”, a culinary genius, and an innovator that has gotten even the fussiest of kids to eat their vegetables, try squid ink pasta, and fall in love with hated foods of all kinds….all through sharing her passion for making things from scratch and empowering kids to do the same. Felicity spent 11 years working with Earl’s Restaurants in every capacity and was known as the “turn around queen” for underperforming locations. She was chosen to open and operate the first-ever US location, which in its first year became the #1 unit in the chain.

After successfully opening the second location, Felicity left to lead operations for Cold Stone Creamery in the Caribbean and led the first international location to become the first $1m franchise in the system.

After moving back to Vancouver in 2006, Felicity has spent most of her time catering parties, events, and serving on several fundraising committees, including Heart & Stroke Foundation and West Point Grey Academy, where her father is the founding headmaster and board member. Most recently, Felicity took her natural ability to teach and love for children to the classroom by getting her (AMI) Association Montessori Internationale  teaching degree and substituting throughout the lower mainland.

LKA was conceived by Felicity combining her two passions for teaching kids, and exploratory cooking. In her role, Felicity oversees all operational aspects of the business, including HR, training, unit-level operations, franchisee support, program development, and is the inspiration that drives the brand.

Independence is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.

CEO, Co-Founder & Director

Brian Curin

As CEO of Little Kitchen Academy, Curin’s focus is on supporting Felicity’s vision and purpose by driving the overall strategic growth of the brand and scaling the concept globally through innovative partnerships and game-changing approaches.

Brian Curin is a visionary and innovative business leader who has founded, led and transformed several Inc. 500|5000 companies. He’s built some of the most exciting and fastest growing brands globally including Little Kitchen Academy, Flip Flop Shops, OfficeZilla.com, Chop Shop Hair Studios, JOE’S Jeans, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Cold Stone Creamery.

With every company and every brand, he’s knocked it out of the park. He’s no ordinary executive and values a game-changing approach. Brian is known for his energy and enthusiasm in building teams and pushing new ideas to the next level. From taking a cigar company public in his 20’s to developing breakthrough brands globally, Brian has the experience and track record being the driving force in scaling and guiding each company to be the category leader in each industry.

Over the years, Curin has built impactful partnerships with Make-A-Wish Foundation, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Soles4Souls, and American Heart Association. He has also served on several committees for American Heart Association, UBC’s Centre for Molecular Medicine & Therapeutics (CMMT), and is a Past Chair for Heart & Stroke Foundation – BC/Yukon. Currently, Curin serves as a Director on the Board of Directors of ChopValue, Advisory Board of Mesa Burger, and serves on the Board of Directors for Incisive Genetics. Curin resides in Vancouver with his wife and three daughters (two of which are twins). He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys anything on wheels or in the water.

Delight is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.

Ambassador, Honorary Head of Recipe Development, Advisory

Iron Chef Cat Cora

Cat Cora is a world-renowned chef, author, restaurateur, contributing editor, television host and personality, actress, avid philanthropist, health and fitness expert, lifestyle entrepreneur and proud mother of six. The Jackson, Mississippi native, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America and went on to cook at two 3-star Michelin restaurants in France, has been captivating audiences since she made her TV debut in 1999, as co-host of Food Network’s Melting Pot with Rocco Di Spirito. She went on to host My Country My Kitchen: Greece, Date Plate, and was one of the featured hosts on Fine Living’s Simplify Your Life. Cat Cora is also a woman who holds a series of “firsts’ for women in the culinary industry.

In 2005, Cat Cora made television history when she became the first-ever female Iron Chef on Food Network’s hit show: Iron Chef America. Since then, she shattered the glass ceiling as one of the first females to dominate the historically male culinary industry. After Cat’s Iron Chef debut, she was featured extensively on a number of television shows, most recently as co-host on BRAVO’s “Around the World in 80 Plates” as well as FOX’s “My Kitchen Rules.” In 2006, Cat was awarded Bon Appetit Magazine’s “Teacher of the Year Award” and was named the Executive Chef of the magazine. Since then, she has blazed her own trail through the culinary world, becoming the first female inducted into The American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame.

Cat has opened more than 18 restaurants across the United States and globally, highlighting her platform on health, wellness and sustainability:

Cat Cora’s Kitchen, located in numerous airport locations throughout the U.S., Cat Cora’s Taproom located in the Detroit Metro Airport, Ocean by Cat Cora, an award-winning restaurant in Singapore, Kouzzina by Cat Cora at Disney World, CCQ at Macy’s, Postino in San Francisco’s East Bay, Mesa Burger which can be found in Santa Barbara and Goleta, and Olilo by Cat Cora and Wicked Eats by Cat Cora have over 500 pop-ups across the country.

In 2018, Cat partnered with WW on a first-of-its-kind health food destination inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, called WW FreestyleTM Café: BKLYN. That same year, Cat was also proud to be featured in the permanent collection of the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Museum’s Kitchen Table exhibit in Meridian, Mississippi.

This year, Cat will be serving up her culinary knowledge as a judge on ABC’s culinary competition series Family Food Fight. Cat continues to be a leader in her industry as she synchronizes her award-winning talents with mainstream accessibility, all while she evolves into a space beyond the culinary world.

As if that wasn’t enough, Cora is also a prominent published author of three successful cookbooks, one children’s book and, in 2015, her raw and remarkably candid memoir called Cooking as Fast as I Can: A Chef’s Story of Food, Family and Forgiveness.

Outside the kitchen, Cora is best known for her philanthropic efforts. She is the President and Founder of Chefs for Humanity, a non-profit dedicated to reducing hunger worldwide by supporting humanitarian relief and promoting nutrition education.

Cora currently resides in California with her wife Nicole and their six boys.

Co-Founder, Director & Advisory

Praveen K. Varshney

Mr. Varshney has been a principal of Varshney Capital Corp., a Vancouver based venture capital, merchant bank and corporate advisory services firm, since 1991 and a Founding Director of Pyfera Growth Capital social impact fund.  Mr. Varshney obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia in 1987 and is a FCPA, FCA.

He is a director or officer of various publicly traded companies including Mogo (Co-Founder) and BetterU Education Corp.  He is also a Co-Founder of G-PAK, CFO of The Plastic Bank and former CFO of Carmanah Technologies which became Canada’s largest solar company.  He also was Co-Founder of a predecessor of Mountain Province Diamonds who’s Gahcho Kué in September 2016 became the world’s largest new diamond mine since 2003 & De Beers’ second-largest producer behind its Jwaneng mine in Botswana.

Mr. Varshney is a Toniic member and a long-time member of both EO Entrepreneurs Organization – Vancouver Chapter (past Chapter President), TiE Vancouver (Founding Director) and Silicon Valley Blockchain Society-Vancouver Chapter (Founding Director).  He’s also on a number of non-profit boards such as The Varshney Family Charitable Foundation, Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education and a Founding Member of instrumentbeyondborders.org.  He’s also an SVP Vancouver Partner, a Vancouver Police Foundation Trustee, and on the Advisory boards of Room to Read – Vancouver and The Thomas Edison Innovation Foundation in New Jersey, USA.  He also Co-Founded with his daughter, Jaiya, Down to the Last Straw, a global movement to reduce plastic waste with a major focus on single-use plastic straws.

Mr. Varshney is also a past recipient of Business in Vancouver’s 40 Under 40 Awards.

Garam Masala is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.

CFO

Randall Sehn

As CFO of Little Kitchen Academy, Randy is responsible for overseeing the daily and long-term activities, strategies and policies of all accounting activities in a manner that will ensure support for the business plan and related objectives, including, but not limited to control functions, accounting, credit, financial analysis, planning and reporting, inventory, capital planning, real estate, payroll and general oversight and risk assessment of the franchise network globally.

Randy is a versatile and resourceful Senior Finance Executive with progressive experience in financial operations, debt and equity financing, mergers and acquisitions, dispositions and general business management with specific expertise in the resort, logistics and retail industries.  Most recently, Randy held the position of CFO for a $100m privately held Four Diamond hospitality and real estate development company based in New Jersey.

Adventure is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.

Vice President, Operations & Support

John Martarano

Since 2004, John has thrived in the restaurant & retail industries; making his way through High School and University by working various restaurant jobs from busboy, to waiter, to Kitchen Captain. In 2010 John traded his apron for a pair of flip flops, as he ventured out into the retail landscape.

In one year, John rose from Sales Associate to Corporate Trainer, and has spent the past 8 years as the Global Franchise Training & Support Manager for Flip Flop Shops, an Inc. 500|5000 fastest growing private company for 5 consecutive years. In his capacity, through strategic planning and execution, John developed leadership training programs, drove compliance standards, and maximized profit opportunities for over 150+ franchised locations and 600 employees in 8 countries.

He has become an experienced and trusted adviser in brand development, business strategy, and operational excellence – consulting on several start-up companies including Little Kitchen Academy.

In May 2019, John dusted off his old kitchen apron and joined Little Kitchen Academy full-time as the Vice President, Operations & Support; bringing a unique and diverse skill-set to enhance the student experience and help grow LKA into a global brand that is both profitable for the shareholders and builds a foundation for healthy living from Scratch to Consumption.

John’s love for cooking started at a young age with his Italian-family gatherings. He believes that food is a way of life, and it provides us the opportunity to share, laugh, and love with those closest to us.

Giardiniera is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.

Director - Communications, Brand & Marketing

Katie Hearn

Katie has always loved being in the kitchen. One of her earliest memories is mixing together shortening and brown sugar while making ginger snap cookies with her mom, something she still does every Christmas. That early time in the kitchen sparked a life-long passion for cooking. As a teenager, she would spend hours on Saturdays making new recipes from scratch, like handmade cannelloni or a baked beet and prosciutto salad – anything new and exciting that she had seen on one of her favourite cooking shows or read in an old recipe book.

In addition to her love of all things food-related, Katie has always been passionate about education. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degree at Simon Fraser University, specializing in 17th-century German history. Her experience teaching at SFU reinforced her appreciation and respect for education and learning. She loved seeing the moment a student would understand a new concept or idea, and how empowered they felt from that small but important victory.

After her time at SFU, Katie went to work in the non-profit sector, so she could use her skills to directly help people affected by a cause she cared about deeply. As a fundraiser at Heart & Stroke, she raised millions of dollars for preventative health education, lifesaving research, and important programs to support those living with the effects of heart disease and stroke. In addition to fundraising, she led the Heart & Stroke Gala from 2017-2020, an event that won multiple awards and was recognized as one of Vancouver’s top charity events.

In her spare time, Katie is passionate about giving back to the community and has volunteered with the Alzheimer’s Society, the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. She currently sits on the SFU Alumni Association Board of Directors and is a member of the Gala Committee for the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

Gratitude is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.

Franchise Development

Joel Lazarovitz

Mr. Lazarovitz has served as the co-founder of International Franchise Services in Montreal, Quebec since 2006.

Over his past 20 years in franchising, he has assisted both emerging and mature brands to grow their domestic and global footprint in over 65 countries and 150 North American cities.  His focus on children’s education franchising dates back to his initial foray into franchising at the age of 26, where he helped grow a large group of franchisees for a young emerging brand focused on hands-on interactive learning. Joel then shifted to other STEM-based brands with worldwide appeal and strong curriculum.

His unbridled passion and enthusiasm for Children’s education brands come from the realization that children are powered by their imagination. A willingness to learn, love, smile and adapt.

Lazarovitz has a vast knowledge of international franchising laws and has negotiated agreements worldwide. His ability to understand adapt to the different economic, social and political conditions of different countries has been instrumental in the franchisor’s success.

Joel resides in Montreal Quebec with his two beautiful children and wife. He is a sports enthusiast, who loves coaching and teaching baseball to anyone who is willing to listen.

Enthusiasm is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.

Area Rep - Washington & Oregon

Michael Silver

Michael Silver is responsible for the development, growth, and support of the LKA brand throughout Washington and Oregon. His main priority is finding like-minded people that want to change lives from scratch by owning their own Little Kitchen Academy in the two states and supporting them along the way.

Michael has a widely varied background which includes math, music, art, computer science, technology, telecommunications, molecular biology, motorsports, teaching, language, scuba diving, emergency medicine, and the culinary arts (including training at the Culinary Institute of America). He has a passion for teaching and has taught and studied pedagogy throughout his life, starting when he taught mathematics at his local college while he was still in High School.

Michael began playing the piano at the age of four and has been deeply involved with music ever since. He has sung and played a number of instruments professionally, wrote and directed music for three years for Shakespeare Santa Cruz, performed in the West Coast premiere of Nixon in China under the direction of composer John Adams, and won several piano competitions.

Michael studied music for five years at UC Santa Cruz (with a minor in art) and later graduated as valedictorian from St. Mary’s College of Moraga with a degree in management. He has worked as a composer, arranger, musician, musical director, and teacher. He has also been a DJ for a large classical music station (KBOQ), worked for PG&E as a state-licensed home inspector, auditor, and energy conservation specialist, and has taught in many fields. Michael currently holds an active C-10 electrical license.

Michael owns and runs Audio High, Inc., one of the most successful home automation companies in the US. He also owns and runs MomoSims, a high-end racing and flight simulator manufacturer. Before founding Audio High, Michael was involved with a number of technology companies in the Bay Area. For seven years, Michael was a development manager at Apple Computer. During his tenure at Apple, he wrote and published a programming book; wrote the telecommunications code that sent the first e-mail from space and supported the astronauts during that mission; and re-architected America Online to support other languages, cultures, and writing systems. In addition, he co-designed the telecommunications language used by American Online (AOL), Apple, General Electric, CompuServe, and others; and he designed the Unicode compression algorithm used by Apple and AOL. Michael also designed the user interfaces for several Apple products, wrote a suite of online content-publishing tools, and was the technical editor for numerous publications.

Michael also currently serves on the board of directors for Persp3ctive, Inc., a Los Angeles-based company that builds technology platforms for augmented and virtual reality applications. Last year, Persp3ctive was a finalist for the SXSW Music Innovation awards.

Michael has co-founded three other technology companies and founded six other successful businesses. He has co-authored a number of patents. For his work with NASA on several projects, Michael was made an honorary Air Force Captain.

Michael also has a long history of doing volunteer work, starting at a young age raising money for Muscular Dystrophy. His volunteer work also includes teaching for the American Red Cross, doing emergency medical work at the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber, volunteering for the SPCA, and doing molecular biology research at Stanford University. He has also done volunteer work as an EMT and DMT. He is a Divemaster who specializes in both dive-related medicine and underwater photography. Using his background in molecular biology, Michael served for two years as the chair of the Research Advisory Committee of CFRI (Cystic Fibrosis Research, Inc.) and participated as a member of this committee of doctors and scientists for some time before that. Most recently, Michael served for two years on the board of directors of the Motorsport Safety Foundation, and as part of that role, he taught high-performance driving instructors across the US how to teach others the art of driving on a race track. He has also coached and instructed hundreds of individuals in high-performance driving.

Michael currently runs two non-profit foundations, one based in Washington state and one in California. His California-based non-profit foundation (Silver Lining Giving, AKA “Silver Linings”) is focused on helping children with a focus on health, music, and the arts as well as environmental concerns. His Washington-based non-profit (also called “Silver Lining Giving”) was created to provide free culinary training to disadvantaged children and to bring the culinary arts to children in areas where they might not otherwise have the opportunities to learn these important life skills. His work with LKA ties in perfectly with this non-profit work, and he is donating 100% of his earnings to his foundation.

Love is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.

Advisory

David Kahan

David Kahan has spent over 30 years in the retail and wholesale space, managing some of the leading brands in the industry. He started his career, while in College, as a part time sales associate in a Macys store, eventually rising to become the first ever Buyer for Athletic Footwear. He likes to say he “went from working 18 hours a week in retail to 18 hours a DAY.”

He developed strong brand management skills while progressing through roles of increasing responsibility, at Nike, and eventually was the President of Reebok for the Americas when the company was acquired by Adidas in 2006. Following the acquisition, David moved into a leadership role managing their Rockport footwear brand. David has been the Chief Executive Officer of Birkenstock Americas since 2013 and is credited with leading the brand renaissance and success that has taken place since. Birkenstock is found in the leading retail chains, better boutiques, and independent retailers and is a key supplier to the culinary industry. The Birkenstock “Profi Birki” is one of the top rated Chef/professional products in the industry.

Olive Oil is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.

Advisory

Ian MacDonald

Ian MacDonald was the President and Founder of Liquidity Wines. Born in Montreal, Ian’s professional life had him work as vice-president of sportswear-maker Sunice at the 1988 Winter Olympics. He fell in love with the Olympic Games and formed his company, Moving Products Inc., which was involved in arranging non-athletic uniforms at every Olympics through London 2012.

However, his passion for wine and art drew him and his business partners to the Okanagan Valley. They wanted to create a place that showcases the natural beauty of the South Okanagan along with its world-class wines. Ian has been creating his vision of an encompassing cultural experience, designing the Liquidity brand from the ground up. His goal is to have Liquidity recognized as one of the premiere boutique wineries in Canada, and in the world.

When not pouring wine at the tasting room or chatting with customers on the patio, Ian can be found hunting for new art and design ideas.

Dark Chocolate is the one ingredient you will always find in my kitchen, which goes amazing with my favourite Liquidity Wine “Equity”.

Advisory

Yves Potvin

Trained as a classical French chef, Yves Potvin has dedicated his culinary career to creating healthy, tasty, convenient foods found in major supermarkets, restaurants and institutions across North America, Europe and Asia. Over the past thirty years, Yves has successfully built two health focused food companies;  Yves Veggie Cuisine, which was sold to the Hain Celestial Group in 2001 and Gardein, with both brands garnering many awards and accolades. In November 2014, Gardein was acquired by Pinnacle Foods, a publicly traded company on the NYSE.

Yves has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 by the Financial Post magazine, named Pacific Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year 1997 in Agriculture and Food, received the BC Food Processors Innovation Award in 2014 and a BC Export Award 2014 for Sustainability.

Yves and his wife Sylvia, recently purchased Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) and look forward to bringing their enthusiasm, business experience and love of good food to the Vancouver-based school and restaurant.

Ginger is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.

Advisory

Sue Bunda

Sue is a former CNN Executive with 30+ years in the news business.  During her cable news tenure, she oversaw daily news coverage, breaking news events and sponsored programming, including the CNN Heroes multi-platform franchise.  In her post-retirement years, she earned a Masters Degree in Conflict Management and sits on the board for the Non-Profit Charity Wine To Water.  Since her husband is the talented chef in their home, she is excited to grow her kitchen skills alongside our students!

Cinnamon is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.

Advisory

Ernie Hee

Ernie was a partner in a national law firm’s Vancouver Office until December 2018.. He advised on all aspects of commercial real estate and corporate/commercial law, and had a varied client base which included well-known REITS, developers, pension funds, limited partnerships and private individuals. Ernie also acted for European real estate investors and has acted for prominent U.S. investors and real estate funds on various acquisitions in B.C.

Ernie has practiced law for over 35 years in Alberta and B.C. and has closed transactions totaling in excess of a billion dollars in his career. His skill as a negotiator and closer is well known in the real estate community.

Ernie is a Board Member of and Legal Counsel to the Vancouver Chapter of NAOIP. He is conversant in German.

Garlic is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.