Krafty cuts celebrity chef

UPDATE 3:30 P.M. AUG 15, 2014

A representative for Kaila Klassen has now come forward.

Her lawyer, Welsey Forgione says, “Ms. Klassen disputes the allegations and will be defending the matter before the courts.”  

AUG 14, 2014

Too many chefs in the kitchen is to blame for the delay of Kelowna’s newest downtown restaurant opening its doors on time.

As it turns out, the month-long delay in opening Krafty Kitchen+Bar was due to the restaurant's high profile partner — MasterChef finalist Kaila Klassen.

Now a local celebrity, Klassen was the original face of Krafty Kitchen. She announced the opening of a new farm to table restaurant with her then boyfriend and Top Chef Canada contestant Chris Shaften, shortly after she was kicked off MasterChef.

Now, Shaften and Klassen are on the outs and Ms. MasterChef has been removed from the business on less than pleasant terms.

As Head Chef and Owner, Shaften says he cannot say much about the separation, but concedes Klassen is no longer a part of the restaurant and court documents will be filed against her by the corporation this week.

“Kaila has moved on,” says Shaften, who explains he was in a long distance relationship with Klassen when they decided to look into a joint venture together.

“She didn't have a business plan and very little restaurant experience, so I offered up a business plan I had created a couple years ago. I did the numbers and developed the food and design concept. And I realized this restaurant, in the Kelowna market, could actually be something really special and really great,” explains Shaften.

According to Shaften, Klassen had presented herself as someone who had a lot of experience in business, finance, and had access to a lot of equity. With that understanding he gave up a successful personal chef business in Calgary and moved out to Kelowna to open the restaurant with Klassen.

He says he knew she did not have a lot of experience in the business, but initially felt with the right consultant, it could work out. Instead it turned into a very troublesome situation.

The outspoken MasterChef contestant, who made it to the final three in the reality cooking show was portrayed as someone who did not play well with others, and it seems she did not get along well with her business partners either.

Klassen's 'local celebrity' status was set to be a marketing pull for the new restaurant. However, Shaften feels their hard work, service and product will be what gets customers in the door.

“At the end of the day this is a business about hospitality. We are in the business of making people happy and serving people and making their experience great.”

With the drama behind them, Shaften is exuberant about the restaurant that he will run with new partner and friend Philippe Grandbois.

Grandbois has a long list of accomplishments, credentials and successes in the restaurant and culinary world. He was originally brought in as a consultant to teach Klassen how to run a dining room, but has now joined Shaften full time.

They have also brought in a team of chefs and cooks from Calgary they have worked with in the past, whom they feel will really make the restaurant shine.

“What is true beyond all the rumours is that the business is amazing, the location is great, the market is awesome and the food, wine and drink here are incredible to work with.”

Shaften says the restaurant is 'fine dining in a casual atmosphere' and will take advantage of the plethora of local ingredients available.

“This area has access to the best ingredients on the planet. Food, wine, cheese -- and it is all right at our fingertips, and there is no one else doing fine dining quality in a casual atmosphere in Kelowna.”

The menu will feature an all-day option as well as a lunch, dinner and brunch menu. They call their menu 'happily shared,' with everything fitting a farm to table, grape to glass model highlighting the Okanagan. Local meats, seafoods and vegetarian options will be showcased alongside a hand picked BC wine menu.

There is no firm opening day as they will quietly open their doors at the end of next week in order to test the menu. They expect a grand opening will take place later this month.

-- This story was adjusted at 9 a.m. August. 15 - the video was taken down as the audio was cutting out, it will be reinserted once it is fixed. Castanet was unable to reach Klassen for comment.

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