Our Values & Vision
Our vision is to cut the chronic illnesses killing Americans in half.
- We work sustainably.
- We value our people.
- We do the right thing.
Who We Are
Mike Linehan - President
Why am I starting a plant-based meals company? The journey began when a close friend told me he was going to avoid heart bypass surgery by switching to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle (WFPB). At the time, I had never heard of such a thing and thought he was crazy. I thought he should have the surgery. Several months went by. The blockages reduced. He no longer required bypass surgery.
This blew me away. I have struggled with being overweight for my entire life and have tried every diet out there. I thought to myself, maybe this is my opportunity to be healthy?
I decided to try eating a WFPB for 10 days. On the 8th morning, I got out of bed and could not believe how I felt. All the joint pain I had been experiencing over the last 5 years was completely gone. I felt like a kid.
This really caught my attention. I began to read every book, and watch every video I could get my hands on. I stuck with it; and as time went on my energy increased, my mood improved, and the joint pain continued to stay at bay even as I starting to push my body with vigorous exercise. Soon after, I learned that the co-author of The China Study (my WFPB bible), Dr. Tom Campbell, had a lifestyle practice here, in Rochester, along with his wife, Erin.
I was over the moon excited and knew fate was playing a big role. I became a patient of the Campbell’s. The first time we met, I told them of my experience eating WFPB, how much I loved it, and that I wanted to find a way to make WFPB a business. With my experience in the food and medical services sectors, it seemed like a home run. I took their 12-week, WFPB course and completed the Cornell plant-based nutrition course.
These courses provided me the data and science to back up what I had experienced. They showed that a WFPB diet could prevent all the major chronic diseases – heart disease (#1 killer), cancer (#2 killer), diabetes (#3 killer), dementia (#4 killer) and many more.
And while I continued my education, I kept experiencing positive results. My cholesterol dropped from a high of 203 to 130. I no longer needed blood pressure medication and lost 40 pounds. The results and my new mission were clear. My life’s work would be to make our world a healthier place by creating simple pathways to a WFPB lifestyle.
I began speaking with people struggling to adopt it. They wondered what foods to eat and how to make them, and how to make the lifestyle change sustainable. I discovered that without delicious, convenient, readily available food options, most folks would never make the change.
Enter my favorite chef in the world, Ryan Jennings. Ryan and I worked together 10 years prior and stayed in touch. Back then, Ryan told me he wanted to open a restaurant that only served vegetables, no meat. “They are just more interesting…” he told me. Needless to say, Ryan had a lot of ideas and Sweet Pea Plant-Based Kitchen was born. We hope you will join us on a journey to health.
Ryan Jennings - Chef/Chief Operating Officer
What drives a classically trained, French chef to trade in Coq au Vin for Cauliflower “Parm”? The answer begins with that training, which I received at The French Culinary in New York City. I had known for some time that I wanted to become a chef. Some might say it was in the blood as my parents met and fell in love working in a restaurant in downtown Manhattan. They taught me some basics and encouraged me to read up on the great French chefs. André Soltner, Jacques Pepin, Alain Sailhac… These chefs were my heroes growing up.
When I learned that they were all deans at a culinary school in New York City, any other plans I had for my education quickly faded away. My time at FCI provided the foundation, discipline, and techniques that I apply to everything I cook to this day. We learned to properly source the finest ingredients, treat them and our fellow cooks with respect, and to taste, taste, taste!
Deliciousness, above all else, was and is paramount. I soaked up everything the experience had to offer and returned to Rochester to work at The Rio Bamba. Rochester’s premier fine dining establishment, the restaurant provided me the opportunity to hone my skills and test my creativity. I was exposed to the finest products our area had to offer and began to develop relationships with our local farmers, many of whom I continue to work with today. In search of a new challenge and more responsibility, I accepted a position at Max of Eastman Place where I spent several years as the sous chef.
It was then that Mike’s and my journey began. He was opening a new, health conscious restaurant and offered me the chef position. With the new focus on health, came a shift in focus from meat, fish, and dairy, to vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Each day, our team pushed to create new dishes that were delicious first, but also good for you. That idea may have been a little ahead of its time, but the seed had been planted.
I returned to Max Rochester to lead all its kitchens, spending several years at the head of the multi-unit, multi-concept group. In much need of a break and more time with family, I decided to move on and spent the next several years as a Chef at Large. Without the pressure of the traditional dining expectations, I was free to again explore my passion for plant-based cooking and to begin developing a new larder from which to create dishes.
When Mike shared what he had discovered about a WFPB lifestyle, I was intrigued and learned everything I could. I began eating that way and discovered how much better you feel when you eat a diet entirely comprised of plants. It became my mission to create enough delicious, plant-based dishes that anyone in our community could have the opportunity to live a plant-based lifestyle, without feeling like they were missing out. We have only just begun our journey and we hope you will join us.
Jen Nguyen, RDN - Director of Nutrition
Jen is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer. She moved from California to New York to complete her dietetic internship through Cornell University. She received a Bachelor of Science in Food Administration and Dietetics, with an option in Nutrition and Dietetics and minor in Hospitality Management from Cal State Long Beach. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, the only philanthropic organization that focuses on promoting nutrition and dietetics, is on the Nominating Committee for the Genesee Dietetic Association, and is a member of the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, exploring Rochester and its surrounding areas, and being active.
Kendra Piasecki, RDN
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Health Education Specialist. I am originally from Ohio, but have also lived in Oklahoma, California, and Maryland. I attended Miami University and received my Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Sports Studies with a major in Dietetics, as well as Health Studies. I attended The University of Alabama and received my Master of Science in Human Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Human Nutrition. I’ve been a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for over 14 years. I have followed a plant-based diet since the birth of my daughter in 2010 and am raising my two children on a plant-based diet.
I haven’t always been supportive of a plant-based diet. I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian through high school and college. In college, I was taught that a vegan diet was inadequate and I was very worried when my parents started a whole-food plant-based diet. They shared a life-changing book with me called The China Study, that sent me through a whirlwind of emotions about what I learned in school and what is purported by the media and government to be true. I now know that the healthiest diet to help prevent and reverse disease is a whole food plant-based diet and that it is nutritionally adequate for all ages and stages of life.
I am thrilled to work with Sweet Pea Plant-Based Kitchen because of the impact our
program can have for clients not only in the short-term, but long-term as well. I am excited to help you on your journey.