Sweet Pea Plant-Based Kitchen is a plant-powered brand creating transformative ways of wellness.
WATCH OUR FOUNDER’S PLANT-BASED STORY
Meet the team
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.
Born to cooks, Chef Ryan Jennings proves that plant-based dishes can be endlessly imaginative.
He received classical training at The French Culinary Institute, where he learned to properly source the finest ingredients and elevate flavors with every dish. After graduating, he worked at The Rio Bamba, where he further honed his creativity as a chef and developed relationships with local farmers, many of whom he still works with today. He also worked as a sous chef at Max of Eastman Place before becoming corporate chef at Max Rochester, leading all its kitchens.
His journey with Mike began when he worked as a chef for Mike’s newly opened health-conscious restaurant, Farm Fresh Kitchen. There, Chef Ryan developed good-for-you dishes that focused on plants first, preparing them later for founding Sweet Pea.
When Chef Ryan discovered WFPB nutrition (through none other than Mike), his mission began to emerge: to create delicious, plant-based dishes that were accessible to the community. He has only just begun.
Special Skill: Trading coq au vin for his signature “Cauliflower ‘Parm’”, Chef Ryan makes plant-based dishes so good, you’d hardly feel like you’re missing out.
VP of Nutrition, Co-Founder
A founding member of the Sweet Pea nutrition program, Jen Nguyen integrates total wellness for the mind, body, and soul.
A Southern California native, Jen Nguyen (RDN, CDN, NASM-CPT) completed her Bachelor of Science in Food Administration with a concentration in Nutrition and Dietetics and minored in Hospitality Management from Cal State Long Beach. She moved to Rochester to complete her dietetic internship at Cornell University.
Currently, she serves as secretary for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation and on the board for the Genesee Dietetic Association.
Special Skill: As a plant-based dietitian and former personal trainer for six years, Jen pairs plant-based eating with physical activity. She goes by the mantra, Eat Well. Move Daily. Be Healthy.®
More than anyone, Kendra Horn understands that a successful plant-based lifestyle is built on healthier beliefs about food.
Kendra Horn (MS, RDN, CDN, CHES) obtained degrees in Dietetics and Health Studies at the Miami University of Ohio. She completed her dietetic internship at the University of Oklahoma and obtained her Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition from The University of Alabama.
Throughout her 15-year career as an RDN, Kendra has served both clients and students. She has taught college-level nutrition courses throughout America and she currently serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor at The University of Maryland Global Campus.
At home, Kendra spends her time horseback riding, working out, and raising her children on a plant-based lifestyle.
Special Skill: Kendra is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. Focusing on WFPB nutrition, she works with clients on a foundational level: 1) by healing their relationship with food and stopping fad dieting for good, and 2) helping families raise intuitive eaters and cultivate a balanced WFPB lifestyle together.
After completing her Associates in Applied Science in Dietetic Technology at Suffolk County Community College, Jennifer Youngren (NDTR) went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition at Kansas State University. She also holds a 2-year Certification in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management.
Jennifer currently works at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, New York at their Partial Hospitalization Eating Disorder Program as a NDTR/Nutritionist. She works with patients to promote a healthy relationship with food using a mindful approach. She also works at the Northport VA Medical Center as a Clinical Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, working closely with Veterans, assisting them with their meal planning.
In her free time, Jennifer enjoys cooking meals with her family, which includes her three school-aged children. During warm seasons she likes to use WFPB items from their garden to make healthy meals.
Special Skill: As an eating Disorder Specialist, Jennifer incorporates intuitive eating practices into her nutrition education. She believes in the benefits of mindful eating and the importance of making peace with food.