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YEDaily: Jonathan Chovancek and Lauren Mote

Partners in business and life, Vancouverites Jonathan Chovancek and Lauren Mote team up to create “Kale & Nori”, a Culinary Arts service that specializes in sustainable seafood and vegetable specific dishes that are nothing short of outstanding. Learn more about the dynamic duo daily routine in today’s YEDaily

From private dinners, to classes and catering, Jonathan Chovancek and Lauren Mote not only have a lot to offer their clients, but also plan some of the most beautiful and successful culinary events in Vancouver. Focusing on responsible, sustainable produce, together they create great menus and dishes for clients, with as little head-butting as co-workers/a couple possibly could…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
Jonathan – Owner, Operator, Chef, Dishwasher, Chauffeur, Event Planner, and Jack-of-all-Trades at our new full-service restaurant-style boutique-catering company. That was a mouthful!

Lauren – Owner, Operator, Sommelier, Mixologist, Event Planner, Emotional Tech Support, Antagonist and Critical Feedback Specialist at our new full-service restaurant-style boutique-catering company.

Why did you start your company? What was the inspiration for this career?
Jonathan – After 16 years in the hospitality industry, it was time to set out, and use my vast experience and skills to build my own company Kale & Nori with the talented and inspiring Lauren Mote!

Lauren – I’m just in it for the Commercial Plates on our vehicle, so I can finally park wherever I want all over the city!

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Jonathan – I love creating custom menus for our clients, working with our amazing suppliers, farmers, fishermen, and makers of artisanal products. The most challenging thing is finding a balance between exercise and healthy eating with such a crazy schedule.

Lauren – We wake up when it’s still dark out, and start working. It’s an interesting change that I am getting up when people in our industry are sometimes just getting home. This was the case for me for 12 years. It’s so inspiring to hit farmer’s markets in Granville Island and shop 5-7 days a week for fresh, incredible ingredients for our clients. Nothing’s better than people knowing us by name everywhere we go to buy produce and artisan goods (the special discounts don’t hurt either!). The challenge for me is staying current and “trend-setting” in the bartending industry now as a caterer. I am doing a good job of using that challenge to my advantage, and in the end our clients always benefit from our innovative cocktail programs!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Jonathan – In Vancouver, leading the Culinary Department of Kale & Nori Culinary Arts, while being recognized as an industry leader in the Canadian and global culinary scene.

Lauren – We are ever-growing, ever-successful and ever-charismatic, so if we stay on this path, in 5 years we hope to still be going strong, and creating beautiful foods, beverages and products for everyone!

What does success look like to you?
Jonathan – Achieving my goals personally and professionally, engaging and employing a dynamic team of individuals, and successful mentorship of the younger community.  

Lauren – Having a staff that would “walk through fire” for us. Creating incredible, respectful and dignified relationships with each of our staff, and making sure they are involved in everything we do.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Jonathan – Leading culinary teams in Turino, Beijing and Vancouver during the Olympic games! Cooking twice for President Bill Clinton! Cooking at the James Beard House in New York, and of course being the co-founder of Kale & Nori Culinary Arts.

Lauren – Realizing while I was knee-deep in textbooks in University that what I was doing on the side was my real passion. This was a profound realization that caused an abrupt move to Vancouver to start a new chapter in my already 7-year bartending career. Taking steps to be the best and most educated that I could be in my field, I became a Sommelier, a Writer, a Publicist, a Cook, and an award-winning Bartender. I have had unique opportunities to travel the world doing what I love. Visiting Nicaragua, New Orleans, Chicago, and New York changed my outlook on hospitality, and thus being the best owner and business partner I can be for Kale & Nori Culinary Arts.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Jonathan – Find a great mentor who is practicing a craft you believe in, and work your a** off!

Lauren – If you’re passionate about something, picture what you’d like to be doing with that passion in 5 years. If you can see it, you can do it. Sometimes we have to create the position or trend we want, and those who are fearless and work hard get what they want and then some!

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Growing Chefs!
Dr. Peter Foundation
Robert Lee YMCA  
The Canadian Professional Bartenders Association (non-profit)

What is Notable to you?
Notable is inspiring your community.
Notable is inspiring questions and conversation.
Notable is getting the job done, and getting it done well!
Notable is supporting a notable cause.
Notable is practicing what you preach.
Notable is being an inspiring leader in the workplace.
Notable is providing a professional environment where learning craft, creativity and discipline take precedence, and you can take pride in what you do.  

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