MP Local: Jannell Lo
Today's MP Local is super exciting (well, aren't they all)! It's safe to say that majority of you reading this today have either tried her food or seen its beauty posted online. Not only does she create delicious (and mouth watering) food, but she is such an inspiration to this community as we've all seen her grow!
We are both obsessed with her food - any event we've gone to that she's catered, you'll find us at the food table right away. We've met Jannell a few times at different events in #KWawesome and she's always been such an inspiration to talk to. She's adapted in so many places over the past 10 years and continues to grow her brand and her food! We hope she stays in Kitchener long term (selfishly, of course!).
Without further ado... meet Jannell!
Name: Jannell Lo
Your title: Private Event Chef
Your elevator pitch:
I create inclusive and accessible Asian comfort food influenced by my travels, as well as my Chinese Canadian upbringing.
One word to describe yourself:
Why did you choose that word?
As a private event chef, I never really know what to expect when it comes to my work environment. Every kitchen is different and every client has different expectations so I have to be able to adapt to whatever situation I find myself in.
I’ve also lived in a handful of places over the last 10 years including Toronto, Montreal, Hong Kong, Taipei, a little Swiss town called Neuchatel, and finally here in Kitchener. Moving from place to place wasn’t necessarily easy, but I learned to love each place for what it was and gained valuable perspectives along the way. Ultimately, I always try to make the most of any situation that I’m thrown into.
Why did you start the business that you did and what was the inspiration or reasoning of how it came to life?
I created the blog My BF is GF (My Best Friend is Gluten Free) because I wanted a space to share my recipes and perspective on food, both of which are coloured by my husband’s allergy to gluten. We try not to be held back by his allergies, but rather find ways to celebrate and create naturally gluten free foods inspired by Asian classics and Canadian comforts.
First thought when you officially became your own boss:
I haven’t ‘officially’ become my own boss yet, but I’ll get there one day! I’d love to open up my own Southeast Asian inspired brunch café, and when I do, my first thought will be ‘hell ya, I did this!’ After that, it will take consistent hard work and determination to keep innovating and improving.
When you’re not hustling, what do you do in your free time?
You’ll often find me cooking up a storm at home, hosting family and friends. I love taking care of people and bringing them together. Also traveling whenever I get the chance.
Describe a day in your life:
My answer would have been completely different if you asked me a month ago, but I now create my own work and schedule as I work from home.
These days I wake up around 7 or 8, have my morning coffee, read for 20 minutes and practice 10 minutes of mindfulness with Calm. If you want a quick, empowering read, I recommend Disrupt-her by Miki Agrawal.
I have a small breakfast and then jot down my prep list for the day, which could include any combination of the following:
write, prep, and shoot recipes for blog
organize and shop for private dinners, pop up events, and/or cooking classes
brainstorm for my future business
meet someone in the community for coffee to chat about what we can collaborate on
go to yoga at hustl+flow (Alison Janelle teaches my favourite class ever, intertwining an intention into the practice every week)
Then, I cook dinner with my husband, we might squeeze in a walk around the neighbourhood, and then a wind down with Netflix and a cup of decaf tea, and that’s about the gist of my day in Kitchener right now!
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Catering managing my first wedding last year for 180 guests and having everything go smoothly!
What are your top 3 bucket list items?
Opening my own brunch café spot
Growing my food blog to reach an international audience
Vacationing in one of those overwater huts in Tahiti one day
What or who inspires you to keep doing what you’re doing?
My husband. My family. My friends. All the women in the industry who are pushing for equality and change. Everyone related to Cherry Bombe magazine is a huge inspiration.
What is your spirit animal and why?
Bonobo monkeys! I’ve heard they are compassionate and empathetic, which are traits that come naturally to me.
What is your daily mantra?
‘I’ll be the best version of me for you, and you be the best version of you for me’
What are some tips and tricks you use to stay motivated?
Giving myself tangible, bite-sized goals so that I don’t get overwhelmed by an over looming, massive goal. Also, not getting hung up on making everything perfect the first time around, but improving through repetition.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
To let my passions and creativity be the driving force behind everything I do.
What’s next for you?
A lot of space just opened up for me, as I was previously the chef in charge of the daily lunches at J&P Grocery. That position ended sooner than I expected when the store closed, but it came with new opportunities for everyone involved. I am now working on building my brand for the next little while as I prepare to open a brick and mortar. I am working with members of the community to host pop up brunches, lunches and dinners around KW!
How can our readers find you?
Website: mybfisgf.com Instagram: @mybfisgf Facebook: facebook.com/mybfisgf
We're sorry if you've left reading this blog hungry, because we sure are! If you have an event coming up that needs catering - we HIGHLY suggest you reach out to Jannell, her food is to die for.
We are constantly looking to promote local businesses and freelancers in the community, so if you are interested in sharing a bit about your life and your journey, send us a DM or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.