Meet Chef Kai (Yes He's Real)

Cultivatr’s Chief Food Officer and resident Chef Kai Salimaki 


If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you’ve probably noticed a lot of our pieces are written by a mysterious “Chef Kai”.  Today we’re here to tell you, Chef Kai is a real person and we want you to know a little bit more about him and his love for food! .  We’re doing more than simply groceries, we’re making sure the food we’re bringing to you is the best product available that even a Chef would approve of!


Kai was born in Edmonton and raised in St.Albert.  This unfortunately means he is an Oilers fan, but we don’t hold this against him.  Growing up with two European parents, food was always an important fixture in the house. Whether it was the usual family Sunday roast dinner or a party hosted by his parents, Kai was always around food.  It was something that brought him and his family together every night.


His first experience working in the kitchen started at 13 where he worked at a family friend’s restaurant in Edmonton; After moving to Calgary), Kai landed a job at Catch Restaurant which was a turning point for him and inspired his real passion for food.  


“Catch was an incredible experience. I had never seen a kitchen operate the way they did. Everyone had their own knife kits and were making everything from scratch. I had never seen or worked with half the products in the kitchen and I fell in love. This was more than burgers and fries.”


With this new found passion, he decided to leave his computer tech education.  He quickly moved up the ranks. Kai went on to help open some of Calgary’s more well known restaurants, under Calgary’s best chefs. Some of which were, Mercury / Ei8ght as a sous chef, the original Vin Room , Notable in Bowness, under Chef Michael Noble, Sky 360, Double 00 Pizza, National Beer Halls, Model milk and Clive Burgers. He then went on to become the owner/operator at The Block Kitchen and Lounge, and the Executive Chef at Ox Bar de Tapas on 17th Ave.  


Kai transitioned out of the restaurant industry to focus on his family.  Kai and his wife are proud parents to two teenage boys and an eight year old daughter.  He can definitely relate to the struggle of  being a busy parent and trying to provide nutritious meals to his family. 


 Kai’s background and experience really piqued our interest, which is why we wanted him in the CultivatR family. We wanted to bring on someone that knew and loved food to help with our operations.


“I’m lucky to call Cultivatr home now and it has provided me with a new passion for supporting our local farmers and encouraging sustainability within our industry.  I was also happy that I could rekindle relationships with producers that I had been using for years in the restaurant scene.  It’s also been great building new relationships with local farmers and food artisans individually - their passion and care for their product is something I value when choosing products for the CultivatR community”


For him, initiatives like CultivatR is important because shopping local means you’re getting the freshest product available.  From a chef’s perspective that means healthier and tastier food.  It also generates jobs - the money you spend on carrots from an Albertan farmer goes back into the local community.  For him, he can see the future of food getting better - better for us and for the environment.  With all the new tech and innovations we have around us, we have the resources to build a more sustainable food system.


“I’m very excited to help Cultivatr grow and bring all these amazing Alberta products to our ever growing customer base. So make sure you all check back for my blog posts, recipes and soon to come cooking demos!”