Vaughan mom’s got recipe for business success
Denise Livotti was looking for a change of pace after spending 15 years working in the logistics industry.
So, last January, she and husband Paolo sat down to brainstorm over a home-cooked bowl of stew.
“He says, ‘OK, what are your passions’?” Mrs. Livotti recalled. “He goes, ‘OK, don’t answer me that — I know. Cooking, right’?”
Her other passion was obvious, too — their daughters, aged six and three.
After researching cooking programs for children, Mrs. Livotti discovered a void exists.
“There’s a huge need out there for teaching children how to cook healthy and nutritionally,” said the Vaughan resident. “There’s a lot of cooking schools for adults, but nothing for children and we’ve got to get them early.”
She decided to cook up a new business to do exactly that. Petits Chefs Academy is slated to open in August at 9661 Jane St., Unit 1, right across from Canada’s Wonderland.
“We, as adults, are time-challenged. We want to spend the time, but there’s a lot involved in dealing with children in the kitchen. It’s a lot of mess, a lot of equipment that you’re worried about. So, how about a facility where we let them come in, make a mess and we’ll be happy to clean up, and we’ll teach them proper, healthy, nutritional ways of creating simple, delicious snacks and meals,” she said.
To help form this habit, Mrs. Livotti has enlisted two chefs — one with 14 years experience and the other a recent graduate from George Brown College — as well as an early childhood educator to help run classes for children as young as 2 1/2 up to 17. They will learn to create healthy, nutritious meals using carefully chosen ingredients, she said.
“We’re going to make sure we’re providing whole and natural foods in the school, high in omega fatty acids, which are brain food. We’re going to make sure we don’t have preservatives, free of transfats, artificial colouring, artificial preservatives,” Mrs. Livotti explained, noting her eldest daughter has ADHD, which is managed with a careful diet. “This is what will be defining us, our quality excellence.”
Not only will the academy teach young people about healthy eating, it will also reinforce learning in other areas, she noted.
“In cooking, you learn math, measuring, fractions, percentages. You learn science, the alkaline levels, the salt levels of certain foods or certain ingredients mixed together and what it produces,” Mrs. Livotti said. “They learn geography because we’re going to do cultural foods. There’s reading involved, there’s social studies involved.”
Programs are divided by age groups as well as experience levels. For the youngest (2 1/2 to five), there’s Kinder Chefs followed by Petits Chefs (six to eight), Junior Chefs (eight to 11) and Senior Chefs (11 and up).
You have the option of signing your children up for a four-week program, a six-week program or one of two club memberships, which means they can take classes either once or twice weekly for 16 weeks.
For those who don’t want to make a long-term commitment, the academy will offer a pay-as-you-go option or customized classes.
Mrs. Livotti also plans to offer programs for school groups, camps during holiday periods, special birthday parties and monthly theme nights.
“It’s a risk we’re taking. I’m going on something totally different than what I’ve been doing for 15 years, but I feel good about it,” she said. “I’m getting really great, positive community support and positive feedback on it.”
Vanessa Goulart is a mother of two boys who also decided to launch her own business — Sweet Creations by Vanessa – and she’s having a delicious time, too.
An employee of a financial services company, she started out creating a cake for a friend a few years ago. Then she made one for her youngest son’s baptism and that started the ball rolling.
Now, Ms Goulart bakes cakes, cupcakes and cookies for weddings, baptisms, birthdays, baby showers and communions. She’s hoping to make it her full-time gig some day soon.
“I just really enjoy doing it,” said Ms Goulart, 32. “I like seeing my clients’ faces when I present them with the cake. Especially when I do a kid’s birthday cake and I see that face. That just makes my day.”
She also enjoys being her own boss and working on her own schedule.
“It’s very soothing and calming for me to do it, even with two boys running around,” Ms Goulart said.
You can meet both these women and learn more about their businesses this weekend at The Spring 2011 Vaughan Mompreneur Showcase.
The event, organized by Vaughan resident Patricia Curto and Ilona DiCaro of Milton, takes place at Al Palladini Community Centre Saturday, June 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We’re here to support all moms in Vaughan and the GTA,” Ms Curto said.
There will be close to 80 vendors on hand representing a range of home-based and small businesses including clothing companies, event planners, children’s entertainment, gourmet food producers, fitness companies plus representatives from Avon, Epicure Pampered Chef and Stella & Dot.
In addition to an array of vendors, the event will feature a DJ, an outdoor carnival with a bouncy castle and a ferris wheel, facepainting, Dora the Explorer (from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.) plus demonstrations by Rugcutterz Danz Artz, Curves and York Region Salsa Babies.
There’s also going to be a silent auction – which includes a Justin Bieber signed photo and Sidney Crosby autographed items – with all proceeds going to Shining Through Centre for Autistic Children in Woodbridge.
The first 250 guests get a free swag bag filled with promotions and deals. And there will also be thousands of dollars in giveaways including a laptop, gift certificates for a set of tires and a set of rims, a one-year membership to Curves and a spa package.
“Expect to be wowed,” Ms DiCaro said.
“There’s going to be job opportunities as well fun for the whole family, great deals, sales, networking,” added Ms Curto.
For more information about the event visit www.vaughanmompreneurs.com
If you want to learn more about Petits Chefs Academy go to www.petitschefsacademy.com; for Sweet Creations by Vanessa check out www.vanessascreations.weebly.com