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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, CMO, Co-Founder & Director

Brian Curin

As CEO, CMO & Co-Founder of Little Kitchen Academy, Brian’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, Bahama Buck’s, and Cold Stone Creamery.

With every company and every brand, he’s knocked it out of the park. He’s no ordinary leader 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 of being the driving force in scaling and guiding each company to be the industry-leader.

Curin’s latest venture, Little Kitchen Academy (LKA) is the first-of-its-kind, Montessori-inspired cooking academy for kids ages three through teen, focused on providing a safe, inspiring, and empowering space for children to identify, develop and refine their senses. Based in Vancouver, Canada, the concept was co-founded by proven global brand and franchise expert and serial entrepreneur Brian Curin, his wife, Montessori-trained, culinary expert, and visionary Felicity Curin, and social impact investor and entrepreneur Praveen Varshney, on the belief that by empowering children with practical life skills and knowledge in a positive and joyful environment, they and their company will affect positive lifestyle changes that result in a healthier world. True to its mission, LKA lives to create a more educated, able and healthy society through mindful, healthy eating choices, and is committed to changing lives, from scratch to consumption. Part of that mission includes empowering students to learn how they can make the world a better place through How Can I Help by Little Kitchen Academy, LKA’s signature philanthropic program, supporting Chefs for HumanityThe Global FoodBanking Network, and Kids Help Phone. In addition to charitable partnerships, LKA has forged strategic global brand partnerships with Iron Chef Cat Cora, AeroGarden, BIRKENSTOCK, ChefWorksEmecoChopValueWelcome Industries, and PRISE Inc. Little Kitchen Academy’s flagship venues are located in Vancouver, BC and Los Angeles, CA.

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  Past Chair of Heart & Stroke Foundation. Currently, Curin serves on the University of British Columbia’s Faculty Advisory Board for Land and Food Systems, and as a director on the Boards of Incisive Genetics and ChopValue . Curin resides in Vancouver with his wife and three daughters (two of which are twins).

Resilience is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen

Co-Founder, Director & Advisory

Praveen K. Varshney

Mr. Varshney is a FCPA, FCA and 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 and Humanitas Capital social impact funds.  He has been a director or officer of various publicly traded companies including Mogo (Co-Founder) and Carmanah Technologies (CFO), which became Canada’s largest solar company.  He is also on number of non-profit boards such as The Vancouver Foundation & Foundations for Social Change.

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

 

Vice President, Location Development, Operations & Systems

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.

Empowerment 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.

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.

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.

Global Director of Partner Support and Training

Fiona Rintoul

Fiona’s ties to Little Kitchen Academy run deep. Not only has she admired LKA since its inception, but she has served as LKA’s Bookkeeper and in various support roles from the launch. When the opportunity came for her to join the LKA team and support the growth of a company that inspired her with its philosophy and innovation, it was an easy decision. Fiona has over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and Delta Hotels, specializing in training and team management. She also has extensive experience with franchising as she opened, owned, and operated the very first Flip Flop Shops franchise location.

Fiona is passionate about relationship-building, coaching, and helping others accomplish goals and was delighted to join the team in March 2021 to support franchisees with their initial and ongoing training to ensure operational excellence. She is excited to see every franchise thriving in its community, giving students the best possible experience, no matter where they are changing lives from scratch.

In her spare time, Fiona is the mother of two wonderful girls who love attending Little Kitchen Academy! She loves laughter and adventure and is grateful for her family and their good health.

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

Global Marketing, Brand, and Communications Manager

Una Mladenović

Una discovered her passion for education early in life. Since her teenage years, she’s been involved with theatre, community education programs, and peer-to-peer education. When she first heard of Little Kitchen Academy, she was immediately struck by the organization’s approach to education and the tremendous support of children on their journey into confidence and independence. Naturally, she found her way in.

Una has had the privilege to spend most of her career in higher education, working on two continents and three countries. Focusing on marketing and communications with a pinch of development work, Una worked at the University of Arts in Belgrade, Indiana University Bloomington, University of California Santa Barbara, and the University of British Columbia. In her past life, while she worked in theatre, Una produced plays and worked at performing arts festivals.

In her spare time, Una loves to spend time with her puppy Kali. She can’t live without yoga and enjoys drinking wine while knitting and watching true crime.
Compassion is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.
Recipe and Curriculum Manager

Natalia Ordoñez C

Natalia has always been passionate about food and cooking. Amongst her friends in Vancouver and back in Colombia she is known for her delicious desserts and for her offers to cook dinner for friends and family.

Natalia’s interest in cooking took her down the path of nutrition and wellness. Having always been curious to better understand how the human body functions, specifically when it comes to nutrients and how food becomes fuel, she chose to specialize in the area Food, Nutrition and Health in her studies at the University of British Columbia.

She is passionate about using her expertise to give back to her community and has volunteered with organizations like Growing Chefs to educate children about health, growing food, and cooking. Her experiences volunteering reinforced her desire to empower children to learn about making positive eating choices and helped her realize that she wanted to dedicate her career to educating children about nutrition and cooking.

After working in the restaurant and culinary industry and for Fraiche Living as their nutritional analyst, Natalia was delighted to join the Little Kitchen Academy team in 2021 as the Recipe and Curriculum Coordinator and now as the Recipe and Curriculum Manager, furthering her passion to educate children in the kitchen. She also continues to instruct classes at the Point Grey Flagship location to ensure that the recipes she develops delight and inspire students.

When she is not cooking up something new in the kitchen, Natalia is out soaking up the sun at the beach or out for a hike.

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

 

Marketing Coordinator

Katie Huitson

Raised in the Greater Vancouver Area, Katie was living in Mexico when she first heard about Little Kitchen Academy. Her relocation back to Vancouver coincided perfectly with the opening of the very first Little Kitchen Academy and her children (then 3 and 5) were the first two students at LKA Point Grey when it opened! Immediately Katie knew she wanted to be a part of changing lives from scratch.

Katie graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts degree then spent some time working for the Federal Government. She quickly learned that a desk job didn’t bring her joy and decided to pursue her true passion – food and cooking. She enrolled in the Culinary Program at Vancouver’s Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, where she graduated at the top of her class. Within a few days of graduating, she began working at one of Vancouver’s most well known and loved restaurants, Bishop’s. Her sweet tooth and love of baking landed her in the pastry department of the restaurant, where she worked as their pastry chef for 11 years!

Raising her own children, sparked a whole new curiosity in Katie around nutrition, cooking, and eating. Some of Katie’s favourite memories are of baking and cooking at home with her children so she connected immediately with the mission of Little Kitchen Academy.

After joining the Little Kitchen Academy team in 2019 as an instructor, she became Director of LKA Point Grey. In this role, Katie gained an incredible amount of experience and worked closely with LKA Founder Felicity Curin. Having become an expert in all things Little Kitchen Academy, Katie took on the role of Administrative and Corporate support in September 2021. Cheekily known internally as “Help Me Katie”, she provides invaluable administrative support to the Corporate team.

When she is not working or hanging out with her children, Katie is looking for a pool to swim in or thinking about the next delicious thing she would like to make and/or eat!

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

LKA Leadership Team Coordinator & Assistant

Sarah Budzinski

Sarah was the very first instructor hired when LKA opened its doors in 2019 and she has remained an integral part of the team ever since!

Having worked with children for over 20 years, Sarah is thrilled to be a part of the core team at Little Kitchen Academy. She was first introduced to the Montessori pedagogy in 2005, while nannying for a family with three beautiful daughters, and it truly impressed her as the best educational environment to encourage the creative potential of a child.

She is passionate about feeding the curiosity of children and is deeply grateful to be somewhere that she can help nurture the development of practical life skills for our students. Sarah’s boundless energy always comes through in her work, and her positive attitude is a good influence on everyone around her.  She brings fun and giggles to every class, while ensuring that every child leaves class feeling empowered and supported.

 After working as an Instructor for 3 years, Sarah stepped into a support role as Leadership Team Coordinator and Assistant. She helps to build the company culture and operational excellence in our environments while supporting our Leadership team.  Much to our student’s delight she also continues to instruct occasional classes at Little Kitchen Academy.

In her spare time Sarah enjoys dancing and spending time at the beach.
Dancing is the one ingredient always in my kitchen.

 

Director, Little Kitchen Academy Point Grey

Aline Vieira

Growing up in Brazil as part of an Italian family, Aline’s happiest childhood memories are of cooking and eating with her Nona and cousins. Together they would fold capeletti and decorate cakes all weekend.

Aline began her career in Brazil in Marketing and Advertising, working for ad agencies and then at three of the largest real estate companies in the country. She planned, coordinated and executed marketing and sale incentive campaigns throughout 6 cities in Brazil, coordinated in-house teams and vendors such as advertising agencies, web developers and photographers.

Her passion for education began when she worked as an Eco Educator at “Quero Saber”, a program focused on improving literacy particularly among adolescents living in shelters past the ideal age of basic literacy. After this experience, she decided to go back to school to get her Montessori diploma.

In 2016, Aline came to Canada and fell in love with British Columbia, where she worked as a Montessori Guide, building a strong and enthusiastic Montessori community with her colleagues, students, and their families.

Aline brings her deep passion for food, education, and children to her work every day as Director at LKA Point Grey. She loves giving her students the opportunity to refine their senses, explore new foods and kitchen tools, and build their independence.

In her free time, Aline plays the acoustic guitar, listens to Bossa Nova, and collects vinyl’s. She is also a big fan of Capoeira (Brazilian martial arts) and snowboarding.

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

Director, Little Kitchen Academy Century City

Avery Fletcher

Born and raised a vegetarian, Avery’s introduction to the kitchen came out of a desire to create exciting and nutritious meals. He remembers spending evenings in high school learning tips from his mother and weekends piping choux pastry with his best friends. Always lost in something creative, food quickly became a favorite outlet for him to express himself and share with others. After completing culinary school with a focus on health-supportive and nutrition-based cuisines from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City, he poured himself into the life of a line cook.

After years of working up the line and taking on new roles in the kitchen, Avery was burned out by the lack of a work-life balance in the restaurant industry. Serious about fitness and wellness, Avery followed a whim and left the kitchen to work for SoulCycle. At SoulCycle, he worked as an Assistant Manager and then Manager for a popular midtown Manhattan studio. During his time at SoulCycle, Avery refined his skills as a manager and a champion of customer service. In 2018 Avery relocated from New York to sunny Los Angeles where he worked as a culinary instructor and private chef.

Like many, Avery was deeply impacted by the global pandemic. This gave him time to reflect on his strengths, career goals, and aspirations for his future. When Avery saw the job description for Little Kitchen Academy, he knew that lightning had struck! The role of Director perfectly combines his managerial expertise, customer service skills, and passion for sharing the culinary arts. Even better, Avery went to a Montessori school for 3 years as a child and knows first-hand the wonder and potential a Montessori education unlocks in its students.

In Avery’s free time you can find him holding a yoga pose, lost in a book, and soaking up sun on the beach.

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

LKATeam and Instructor

Asha Sangara

Asha has always been a food enthusiast. As a child, she was a kitchen stool spectator and the family taste tester. Attending a Montessori program in her early years created a life-long commitment to process and order while celebrating individuality and personal expression. She practices these passions daily with her students at Little Kitchen Academy. Her classes are collaborative and cheerful, and her instruction is positive and reinforcing.

Asha joined Little Kitchen Academy in October of 2020 and has supported the development of the LKA Late Night curriculum at the Point Grey Flagship location. For Asha, LKA Late Nights are not limited to supporting students in their understanding of the importance of health and well-being, but more importantly helping students develop confidence in themselves. As one of LKA’s most experienced Instructors at LKA Point Grey, Asha joined the LKATeam in July 2021. The LKATeam travels to new locations before they open to provide training and support for Franchise Partners and their Instructors.

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

LKATeam, Support & Compliance

Stephanie Devlin

Stephanie is an entrepreneur at heart with a love for food and a passion for kids.  For the past 15 years, Stephanie has gained invaluable experience in the restaurant industry with Browns Restaurant Group. After many years working as an employee, in 2017, Stephanie tapped into her entrepreneurial skills becoming the owner of the Brown’s Social House franchise down the street from the LKA Point Grey, Little Kitchen Academy’s flagship location in Vancouver. As Owner/Operator of Browns Social House, Stephanie strived for operational excellence and exceptional community relations.

While building a successful career in the restaurant industry, Stephanie also obtained her diploma in Youth Justice from Douglas College. This diploma took her into youth homeless shelters where she brought youth into the kitchen, teaching them practical life skills, with a side of fun and empowerment.  She recognized that their time in the kitchen gave each youth a break from their difficult lives and gave them the space to learn valuable skills for a healthy life.

Stephanie is also a proud mother.  Once her son Wyatt came into the world, her passion for healthy, creative food was taken to a whole new level.  She has spent many hours in the kitchen creating healthy, fun meals that are building her son’s excitement for food! Given her love of food and children, when the opportunity came for her to join the LKA Team she was delighted to have the opportunity to use her skills to empower others to deliver an exceptional experience for all students as the company grows. She is excited to support LKA’s Franchise Partners in delivering the gift of Little Kitchen Academy, delighting each child at every location globally.

In her spare time, Stephanie loves to travel with her family and friends and is often found outside enjoying the natural beauty of Vancouver.

Curiosity is the one ingredient that is always in Stephanie’s kitchen.

Area Rep - Texas

Bill Duffy

When Bill first heard about Little Kitchen Academy and decided to inquire more, he flew out to Vancouver to see first hand how the brand was changing lives. Bill immediately felt the environment was like nothing he had ever seen before, allowing children to experiment and learn in their own way. At one point, students put bowls on top of their heads because they simply wanted to see what they could do with it. In that moment, he knew he wanted to share the gift of Little Kitchen Academy with the state of Texas.

Bill Duffy is a hospitality, retail, and QSR Operations Executive with more than 20 years of leadership experiences in national and international multi-unit models. In addition to managing full company operations, Bill has worked in company owned environments as well as the franchisee and franchisor side of the hospitality industry.

Bill has owned executive operation roles at Tower Records, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and SkyZone. Most recently he was the Chief Operating Officer at Flight Adventure Park. This path has afforded Bill the appreciation of working in, and learning from, environments where both the employee and the customer are passionate about sharing experiences together. Here, Bill has become a student of leadership, inclusion, equity, and diversity.

Bill is a proud husband to an elementary school educator and a father to two extraordinary boys. The family currently resides in Austin TX where they enjoy working with their community and drinking up all that the city and state have to offer.

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

Area Rep - Ontario

Caroline Irving

When Caroline first heard about Little Kitchen Academy she was immediately drawn to its amazing mission and vision, and knew she wanted to be involved. Caroline is proud to have become an investor in Little Kitchen Academy, and thrilled to be the Area Representative for Ontario.  She can’t wait to find like-minded, purpose driven people to help bring the magic of Little Kitchen Academy to as many children as possible, helping set them on a path to an independent, healthy life.

Caroline previously owned and operated 4 Sky Zone parks in the Greater Toronto Area which attracted millions of visitors beginning in 2011 when her first location opened. Sky Zone revolutionized the trampoline industry, and as the first international Franchise Partner, Caroline was very happy to introduce its blend of excitement and active, healthy, fun to a generation of children and adults in the GTA. She was also honoured to be elected by her fellow franchise partners to Sky Zone’s Franchise Advisory Council to a 2 year term in 2015, where she served on the Innovation Committee, and to be named Franchise Partner of the year 2016.

Caroline led and grew a passionate team of managers, as well as over 400 part time employees, before exiting in late 2019. She is most proud of getting millions of children up off the couch and exercising, and giving thousands of high school students and young adults their very first jobs. Caroline is excited to bring her relevant operational, management and strategic planning experience to the development of Little Kitchen Academy in Canada’s largest market.

Prior to her time at Sky Zone, Caroline was a television producer at CBC.

Caroline was born and raised in Montreal, attended Queen’s University, and has been married for 26 years to Mike Downie, an award winning documentary filmmaker, who with his late brother Gord, founded The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund, the largest charity in the country dedicated to Indigenous Reconciliation. They share 5 children (3 boys followed by twin girls!). Caroline is passionate about art, travel, live music, good food, her volunteer work, and living an active and healthy life.  She is happiest when she is surrounded by her family and friends at the dining room table.

Curiosity 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 business. 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

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 40 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.

Advisory

Yuri Fulmer, OBC

Yuri Fulmer has been building businesses since his early twenties. Having arrived from Australia a few years earlier, it all began when he was faced with the unexpected opportunity to buy a local franchise while working for A&W. Since then, Yuri has grown that single A&W franchise into dozens, doggedly building a $60 million business portfolio by the time he was 30.

In 2010, Yuri founded Fulmer Capital Pa­rtners (now Fulmer & Company) to continue doing what he does best — helping businesses grow. Currently, Fulmer & Company owns and invests in a collection of companies in the hospitality, business-to-business, manufacturing, construction, digital technology and consumer service industries.

Right from the start­, serving the local community has also been an impo­rtant part of­ Yuri’s work. Over the years, he’s been actively involved in local non-profit, educational and a­rts organizations, and serves as an accredited Director on a number of corporate and civic boards.

In 2019, Yuri established The Fulmer Foundation to take Fulmer & Company’s community investment to the next level. One of the foundation’s biggest undertakings is the management and support of Goodly Foods Society — a social enterprise working to repurpose surplus produce from local suppliers, while creating employment opportunities for people in need.

Yuri feels truly honoured to have been acknowledged for his contributions to others, including recognition by: Canada’s Top Forty Under 40 (2008), The BC Community Achievement Award (2010), The Spirit of Vancouver Award (2011), The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012) and The Order of British Columbia (2010), our Province’s highest honour, for Yuri’s “dynamic entrepreneurship and committed volunteerism”.

Away from the office, you can often find Yuri enjoying the great outdoors near and far, fishing, diving, canoeing, kayaking, climbing and exploring. Or, you know, not find him.

My family and a glass of wine is the one ingredient that is always in my kitchen.