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ABOUT US

Board Members 

Our Team

Feeding people and our community all while feeding our passion

 Brent Durec 

President

Hello all,

my name is Brent Durec and I am the current President of the Okanagan Chefs Association.

I was born and raised in just outside of Vancouver but moved to the Okanagan 21 years ago with my wife and one year old son. Since then our family has grown by two, another son and a daughter, and of course my two dogs.

I was lucky enough to arrive in this valley at an amazing time. Our industry was at the beginning of some big change. Here, as a young cook, I got the chance to meet and cook with some pretty special and inspiring people. Working as a cook, I had opportunities at golf clubs, hotels, and local restaurants. I finally ended up running the culinary team for a hotel in Vernon. After moving on from there, I changed things up a bit and joined Sysco Kelowna as a protein specialist, buyer, and eventually one of the corporate chefs. Here is where I have been for the last 16 years, working with our customers from Kelowna to Prince George. I have met so many amazing friends and people I consider family in this industry. I have had lots of opportunities to meet local small businesses and work with many of the Okanagan's unique products.

I was asked to be part of the board a couple of years ago as a member at large and am now the current president of our association. I am excited about the future of our CF Okanagan. We are very grateful for all that have joined our past and current boards. One thing I have always loved about the CF Okanagan is that we are a family willing to share ideas, help our community, donate time for fundraising, and to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

We are an association of cooks, and professionals related to the hospitality industry. All are welcome. If anyone is interested in who or what we are, please reach out.

Skylar Sawers

Membership 

Born in the prairies, I moved around a lot in my youth. Including a lengthy stint in China. I eventually found my place in the kitchen. I practiced actively as a chef in the industry for about a decade, as well as a member of the Culinary Federation. I did my technical training at the Lethbridge College, where I obtained my Red Seal and Journeyman in 2015. I spent 3 years operating as the President of the Lethbridge branch of the CF, before relocating to Kelowna in 2019. Before finding my home here in the Okanagan, I worked a wide variety of experiences across our industry. Senior homes, pubs, catering & hotels, and building our very own Italian restaurant. The winery industry and catering brought me here, but I have since found happiness working in horticulture and teaching youth. My time spent with the CF has given me an insurmountable amount of knowledge and opportunities, I likely wouldn't have received otherwise. As well as friendships, colleagues and a supportive community.

Since coming into the OCA. I have held a few positions on the board, and currently sit as the Membership Director. I am excited to see all we will accomplish in the coming years in our association and the community! The OCA has always seemed to be very centralized around supporting it's community and broadcasting the amazing things we have at our disposal in this valley. I feel privileged to be a part of that team. 

Chris Braun

Vice President

Born and raised in the Okanagan Valley, his passion for food started very young. Growing up in his grandmother's kitchen, helping out on his parent's fruit orchard, and now helping raise livestock, his culinary passion spills past the kitchen walls.

He started his career with Coast Hotels, apprenticing under Chef Monika Lauterbaucher. Working his way through the Valley and growing his network of local producers he quickly realized the importance of our region and the plethora of offerings the Okanagan has.

After returning from Italy and Spain where he studied classic Charcuterie, he found an interest in competing with his cooking. A couple of local industry competitions quickly found him competing as a finalist Nationally. He is currently a member of Culinary Community Catering Team Canada, the team’s goal is to achieve Gold in an upcoming competition in Luxembourg.

Currently the Chef of Erica Jane Restaurant in the downtown Kelowna. Chris hopes to bring a renewed interest in friendly culinary competition here in the Valley. 

Jeremy Luypen 

Chairperson

Hi Everyone

I am Jeremy Luypen, Chairperson of the Okanagan Chefs Association and Past President for the last 4 years. I am also the Western Vice President of the Canadian Culinary Federation. I work for Noir Food Service as the Director of Operations. I help oversee 16 different restaurants across BC. I moved to Kelowna in 1995 for post-secondary studies and found my way to the 

Culinary Atrs Program. I have spent time working up and down  the Okanagan Valley. I also spent 12 years as an Instructor at Okanagan College.

Highlights included being the chef/owner of Terrafina at Hester Creek and opening up that place was amazing, having in named one of the top 20 Winery Restaurant in the World was a dream. With stops and the Hotel Eldorado, and a few golf courses along the way, I found my way to Summerhill Winery. The Team we had there was  one of my favorites of all time, with a garden at your doorstep and wine in your glass it made for some fun days.

In my downtime I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids, having an 21-year-oldc  6-year-old and a 2 year old. gives life some different perspective. I love being part of the OCA I believe if you are going to live in a community you might as well be involved in it and try and make it a better place. Volunteering and being amongst friends and giving back through feeding people and helping raise money all while doing something you love is a pretty cool experience.

Our Team

Feeding people and our community all while feeding our passion

Andy Stefansson

Member at Large

My name is Andy Stefansson and I represent Pacific Restaurant Supply for the Interior of British Columbia. We specialize in Foodservice Design, Custom Stainless Steel Fabrication, and Commercial Foodservice Equipment Solutions. We help Restaurants, Hotels, Golf Courses, Ski Hills, Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries, Senior’s Living, Health Care, Schools, and any other establishment with a commercial kitchen or bar with their equipment needs.

I shifted from the foodservice industry working as a cook, waiter, and dishwasher, to the foodservice supply industry selling equipment and small wares over 30 years ago. I have been living in The Okanagan since 1990. For the past 6 years, I have been representing Pacific Restaurant Supply. I have been a Member of the Okanagan Chef’s Association since 1992.

I have many years of experience and have put together a strong team of tradespeople who I work with to deliver Commercial Foodservice Projects from a single piece of equipment to a custom stainless solution to a complete kitchen and bar.

On the OCA Board, I am a Member at Large. While this position is less clearly defined than others, it is one that allows flexibility to help on sub-committees, with events, and with promotion. I hope to jump in where I can have a positive effect on things like fundraising, and recruitment. A hobby of mine is photography and I have been able to pitch in and take pictures over the years at OCA events and share them for social media requirements.

In my position, I have been lucky to meet many new Chefs when they come to the Okanagan Valley. Something I share with them is that our Chef’s Association is a great source of help and guidance for new people. They are often surprised to hear that other local Chefs would be helpful and welcoming to new competition - I am very proud that OCA offers great camaraderie. I believe that we are all working together to offer a World-Class Culinary Experience pairing local bounty with local wines, beers, spirits, and creative talent!

Katie Foster

Secretary

To Come

Adam Relvas

Young Chef Director 

Chef Adam Relvas, took Professional Cook Apprenticeship, level 2 and 3 at Okanagan College in 2006, he grew up in the South Okanagan and gained a passion for food through many food-focused family events.

After graduating, Relvas worked as a line cook for Waterfront Wines in Kelowna, Sous Chef at Ricardo’s Mediterranean Kitchen in Lake Country, Sous Chef at the Hotel Eldorado in Kelowna, and later Executive Chef at Monashee’s Bar and Grill and The Kal’s Sports Bar in Vernon.

Now, the certified Red Seal Chef is the Chef and Owner of Relvas Catering and The Sandwich Company by Relvas Catering in Kelowna, which was voted as one of the top 3 caterers in the Central Okanagan by Okanagan Life Magazine’s Best Restaurant Edition in 2017.

Relvas was also voted top chef in the North Okanagan by the same magazine in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Most recently, he was voted the 2018 Chef of the Year by the Okanagan Chef’s Association.

Jessica Madinabeita

Treasuerer

Hello everyone, my name is Jessica Madinabeitia, Treasurer of the Okanagan Chefs Association and Young Chef graduated in Culinary Arts in Okanagan College, currently registered as an Apprentice PC Level 3 with Skilled Trades BC under the wing of Chef Evan Anderson, Executive Chef at Hillside Winery and Bistro in Penticton. I also hold a Post-Diploma Certificate in Tourism and Hospitality Management with Okanagan College, and in my native Mexico a Diploma in Mexican Cuisine at the prestigious Escuela de Gastronomia Mexicana (Esgamex) in Mexico City, as well as an Undergraduate Degree in Business Administration with the University of Guadalajara.

My work experience as a Professional Cook includes Theo’s Restaurant, Naramata Inn, Lake Breeze, Hillside Winery & Bistro, Gunbarrel Saloon and recently, a feature night as guest Chef at Shaughnessy’s Cove Supper Club.

I have been a member with the Okanagan Chef Association since the end of 2020, and I was awarded Junior Chef of the Year 2021 by this same Association.

Personally, I pride myself on helping others to achieve their goals, reason why, living in beautiful Penticton and being introduced to the Canadian life, culture, and workplace since 2013, when I moved here with my husband and daughter, I decided to volunteer my time and efforts whenever possible, to the community, individuals and organizations, with passion, professional manners, dedication to the job, work ethic and team approach, and with the OCA there is no exception. 

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