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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, Director, President & COO

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 it’s 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 Montessori 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.

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

CEO, Director & Co-Founder

Brian Curin

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 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, and currently serves as the Board Chair for Heart & Stroke Foundation – BC/Yukon, serves on the board for The University of British Columbia’s (CMMT) Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, and on the board of ChopValue. 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.

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.

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

Ambassador, Honorary Head of Recipe Development, Advisory

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.

Director, Advisory & Co-Founder

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.

Vice President, Training & 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, Training & 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.

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 is 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 is a partner in the firm’s Vancouver office. He advises on all aspects of commercial real estate and corporate/commercial law, and has a varied client base which includes well known REITS, developers, pension funds, limited partnerships and private individuals. Ernie also acts 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.