Chef Yoda                              Photo Credit: Cynthia Bendle

Chef Yoda                              Photo Credit: Cynthia Bendle

 


Our Story

From humble beginnings in my family's garden, to navigating my way through the restaurant scene, and later becoming a Red Seal Chef and successful private caterer, I’ve had an insatiable appetite to create a life and business where I feel connected to, inspired by, and consumed with what I truly love.

My story begins in the small town of Thorndale, Ontario. I was raised as your typical 'country' kid... I played in the dirt, always had to help with the chores, and considered eating cherry tomatoes right off the porch plant an 'after school snack.' I wasn't an incredibly adventurous eater, but was lucky enough to have parents that cared about food. My mom was always a great cook - I have fond memories of making onion buns with her in the winter to go alongside hearty stew (I can still smell those onions!) My dad became a great cook a little later in life, but was always picking carrots out of the ground and encouraging us to take a bite - dirt and all. He has the greatest green-thumb of anyone I know. His garden today is full of meyer lemons, tomatoes of all colours and he even has an avocado tree in his office!

My decision to become a chef came to me in my late teens after my parents separated and, after many meals of Kraft Dinner (eek!), my dad and I decided that since the cook in our lives was no longer in the kitchen, one of us would have to learn. I took it on as a hobby and quickly realized that I had immense passion for it. I enrolled in Niagara College's Chef Training program that summer and off I went.

Fast forward a few years to my apprenticeship at a swanky golf course in London. I'd been in the restaurant scene as a line cook at a few different establishments, and I'd begun to find my 'style' as a young chef. I already understood the importance of shopping locally, cooking seasonally and making things from scratch. It was during this time that I decided to do a bit of traveling so I took off to Australia for several months. I made enough money to keep traveling by picking macadamia nuts, making candy with a traveling brittle connoisseur and eventually got a job as a pastry chef on a huge beach resort with a view of the ocean. It was pure bliss. I was missing home though, and after a short trip across Canada to visit the west coast, I came back to my humble beginnings.

While working at my favourite restaurant (The Only on King), and part time at Fanshawe College as a lab technician in the Culinary Department, I decided to give catering a go. I developed a business plan in 2011 and it was my Five Year Plan to quit my other jobs and start catering full time. This dream became a reality in a short 8 months. My dreams were coming true!

During my time as a professional caterer, I had the chance to cater so many amazing events, meet many wonderful people and helped change people's lives. Along the way I had many, many challenges, but got to cater some pretty crazy events. In 2016 while my catering company was soaring, I decided to do what no one thought I would do... I opened a restaurant! My partner and I signed the lease in December and in May 2016, we opened the doors of Glassroots. During the time Glassroots was open, we achieved many wonderful awards and accolades. We won Our London's "Best Restaurant" and "Best Patio" contest, and we were also named "London's Best Kept Dining Secret" by The London Free Press in their 2017 Reader's Choice contest. It was an amazing 16 months!

But something was missing, and after much thought and soul searching, I decided to leave the restaurant world and return to catering. I'm back home, once again!! Catering allows me the time to work on other projects such as: volunteering with Growing Chefs Ontario (an amazing organization that teaches kids about healthy eating,) working on a cookbook, traveling, studying (this year I enrolled in Cornell's Plant Based Nutrition Course with Colin. T. Campbell,) walking my dog and gardening. I am so happy to be back in my element and look forward to this next chapter in my journey.

There are lots of exciting things in the works <3 Thank you for reading!

My MISSION

My mission is to always feel connected.

I want to be connected to like-minded people and businesses and to support those who share a similar philosophy on life and work. I want to be connected to farmers; to the very people who grow my food and to the soil and air in their environment.  I want to be connected to animals of all kinds and to the community that supports compassion towards them.  And finally, I want to be connected to the voice and light inside of myself that gives me the passion to stand up for what I do, and to the creativity it requires to express that.  To truly connect and to tap into those kinds of connections is the reason why I am here.

 

ACHEIVEMENTS & Buzz

  • Recipient of the Young Entrepreneur Leadership Award for Elgin County 2014
  • Nominated for Business London's top 20 under 40 contest 3 years in a row
  • 250 people attended the grand opening of my Private Catering Business and raised $2400 for Growing Chefs
  • Recipient of Business London's Top 20 Under 40 Award