This is the latest entry in a series called Who Owns That? We ask readers on our LinkedIn group to identify their favourite small businesses from across Canada, and we track down the owners so they can tell us their stories.
Introducing Kyle Nordman, principal at Savoury Chef Foods, a high-end catering and event company in Vancouver, B.C.
1. Let's start with the basics. Can you briefly describe your business, including when it was founded, what it does, and where you operate? Do you have any employees?
Savoury Chef Foods is a high-end catering and event company based in the Strathcona neighbourhood of Vancouver, B.C. that offers a wide array of menus featuring the very best fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. From private dinners to holiday galas, weddings, and high-profile productions – including two consecutive Cirque du Soleil tour stops in Vancouver – we specialize in engineering memorable events with unparalleled service.
Since our launch in 2006, we have grown to over 45 full time staff members, and 120 part-time staff members. Savoury Chef is expanding rapidly and we're proud to have an amazing team that shares in our vision and goals. Our hope is that we'll continue to grow and be an innovative leader in the industry coast-to-coast.
2. What inspired you to be an entrepreneur and to branch out on your own with this idea?
My fiancé and Savoury Chef Foods co-founder Taryn Wa was first inspired to become a chef by her mother and both of her grandmothers, all of whom were accomplished cooks in South Africa. Although she first enrolled in university and then cooking school before branching off as a personal chef for a number of high-profile celebrities and dignitaries, her clients began asking her to cater special events and corporate parties. With my background in the areas of business development and technology, Taryn and I decided to combine our efforts to build our own brand of simple-yet-elegant catering – thus Savoury Chef Foods was born.
3. Who are your typical customers, and how do they find you?
Our primary customer base comprises businesses and individuals looking to celebrate many different types of occasions. From the VIP tent of Cirque Du Soleil, to Destination Management Companies (DMC) hosting incentive travel events, gala award shows, or new business launches, to seasonal open houses, and year-round employee appreciation events, we handle the foodservice for a variety of events of all sizes. We have also built a name for ourselves in the wedding industry, where the flawless execution of a once-in-a-lifetime event is key.
Referrals and repeat customers now make up 75 per cent of our business, something of which we are extremely appreciative of as that is greatest compliment of all. The other 25 per cent hear about us through Taryn's appearances in traditional media, and our strong web presence.
4. What are the roles of you and your co-founder in the business?
Chef Taryn is the creative director of the company, ensuring that the dishes are presented a certain way and testing out new recipes, while I refer to myself as the "engine behind the scenes" driving the company forward and ensuring that we accomplish our goals and stay on track. For us, working together successfully means setting goal posts for each other and striving to excel in our different areas of expertise. It's also key to enjoy the little things and to celebrate everything we have built together.
5. You've been identified by one of our readers as a standout business. What do you consider the key element of your success?
We keep pushing forward to improve day after day as not only individuals, but as a team. We appreciate where we started and where we are now, but there are always ways in which we can improve. Over the years, we have built a brand that attracts talent and aligns with the best in the industry – our people are number one to helping us achieve what we do.
Of course, it definitely doesn't hurt that we all love coming into the office each day. We also work in an industry filled with amazing people who understand both the importance of creating a quality experience for our clients, and letting go to celebrate when time allows. We love it.