Remember that movie Field of Dreams? The theme was that if you build it, they will come. Well that is how Liana has lived her life and grown her business.
Born in Mississauga to Italian parents, she really didn’t know what she wanted to do when she left high school. She went to college to study business admin, mainly she confesses, because her friend was taking this course. After one year she knew this wasn’t for her.
She landed a job with a travel agency through which she travelled and helped clients plan their best trip ever. It was through this position that she blossomed, came out of her shell and enjoyed interacting with people. This, coupled with her volunteer work to host and run fundraising events for the hospital, was getting her closer to what she wanted to do.
Passionate about Italian food, she would often take trips to Rome to visit the restaurants and then come home and re-create what she’d tasted with friends, holding huge dinner parties.
She ended up marrying an Italian and moving there. It was challenging and she’d given it a year, and if she hadn’t found work, she was coming home. However two months before the end of that year, she and her husband took over the local bar which had been owned by his uncle and he wanted to retire.
Wanting something of her own, Liana also started teaching English and this led to her being hired by a US company to help people moving to Italy. She would help them find a home, schools and would take them to the best restaurants, where she would visit the kitchens to learn their cooking secrets.
She lived in Italy for 15 years, but when her mother died she wanted to come back to Canada with her daughter believing there were more opportunities for a young woman here.
Much of her time initially was spent unravelling her parents’ estate as sadly they had both died and she had to sort out the finances. Her mother’s business, while successful in the past, had hit hard times. Liana found herself facing financial challenges as a result. “It was a crazy rollercoaster, I knew I had to work hard each day.” admits Liana, adding “but tomorrow always brings another day.”
You quickly learn that Liana stays positive and never says no. If an opportunity presents itself, she says yes and then figures out how to do it. By this time she had recognized that she was passionate about cooking, catering and holding events for people. So she started with catering and one contract led to another, renting space in Oakville to cook and run her catering business.
Then one day on a drive up north to Wasaga Beach, she and her partner spotted a for lease sign outside a restaurant in Mono Hills. The previous owners had just vacated the premises, leaving all the fixtures, fitting and equipment behind. That was two years ago, and the Kitchen at Mono Hills has since become a huge success. “To me, shares Liana, it was a gift. I knew this was where I was meant to be.”
And history kind of repeated itself in Oakville. Located right downtown on Lakeshore, the previous restaurant owners had just walked away. “Even the take-out containers were left.” says Liana with a chuckle. This new venture is just a month old, but already Liana has big plans.
She wants to see the Kitchen at the Vanguard become an event facility where people will use the space for weddings, celebrations of life, parties and during the day, people can also enjoy breakfasts and lunches cooked by Liana.
Liana firmly believes that every opportunity is sent to you for a reason. Her enthusiasm is contagious. And somehow you just know that whatever she takes on, it will be magic.