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AWE Interview-Jen Hiltz for GypsyTrunk Gourmet Fare Food Truck

By Monika Blichar 


1-What inspired you to start your GypsyTrunk Gourmet Fare Food Truck? 
I worked for a retail store for 12 years & just felt I had much more to share with the world so I quit my job, sold my belongings & went on a road trip in my smart car for around 5 months to do some “soul searching”. Food/cooking/veganism was a huge passion of mine so when I found myself house sitting on salt spring island, I began playing with recipes & posting them to a blog page on my website along with photos from my experiences on the island. I began making a menu with the intention of creating a catering Monday-Friday meal program but I found myself procrastinating due to all the details that I decided to go the food truck route instead and just concentrate on a more simple menu.

2-Being a culinary artist, what inspires you most about food? 

Experimenting & playing with the different colours, textures & cooking styles of simple plant based ingredients – Whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, oils, vinegars & herbs.


3-What are your favourite vegan ingredients? 

I’d have to say for “treat” vegan items – I LOVE the cheesy flavour of nutritional yeast. On popcorn, in soups & sauces, eggless salad, etc.

Cashews because they are soooo versatile. Can used them blended up in pasta sauces, soups, vegan versions of sour cream, cheesecakes, mylks, dessert cream (to have with fresh fruit), yogurts, toasted as garnishes on meals, etc, etc.

4-What are your long term goals for your Food Truck business? 

To be honest, I don’t really have a long term plan for my food truck business. I would love to eventually have a base of operation in Abbotsford where I live, where I can have a cafe/retail storefront.


5-What advice would you have for other food truck or culinary artists looking to start a business? 

If you’re gonna do it, you’ve gotta give it your 110% for sure & you’ve gotta love what you’re doing. It’s a lot of physical/office work, long days, commuting to get to/from events & stock/supplies, a lot goes on behind the scenes just to be at one event. Make sure you choose a unique feature item that nobody else has & that people want. I always find Pinterest a great inspiration for ideas. 😉

Emerging Painter Margaret Kitchen Joins The Show!

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About: Margaret Kitchen, new to Vancouver and the art scene, creates beautiful paintings of landscapes and other scenes. She works in a school teaching special needs children, and practices as an artist in her spare time.

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This is your first time at the Art World Expo. Is there anything particular you’re looking forward to?

I’m very nervous and excited just to experience it and be there to see other artists.

How were you introduced to art?

Growing up, my Mom was always creative. Not in painting, but in things like beautiful knitting and needlepoint. We would come home from dances and she would have entire outfits she’d made ready for us! Also, about 5 years ago I was looking at paintings a lot and thinking, “I want to do that.” I wanted to explore something different. Reading Drawing from the Right Side of Your Brain explained that everybody can draw and not to be afraid to make mistakes and to fail. It just sort of said, “Where are the rules? Anyone can do it.” Art is an outlet. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

How were you influenced as an artist by your heritage or home town?

Okanagan landscape is so inspiring. You go hiking or to lakes and just think, “I wish I could paint this.” It’s just so beautiful. There were great local artists and galleries, so it was really just a part of the community.

Who was your main inspiration growing up and how has it changed from then?

My Mother, because it was always important for her to be creative with her hands and to completely immerse herself.

How would you describe your style?

I love using oil paint. I love art to look like art. I really like artists like Robert Bateman. Lots of paint, thick, color, so I guess I would call my style impressionistic.

What do you consider your “big break”?

I am really glad that I met Monika. I started her art class and she and I really hit it off. Pretty much, she said “who cares! Do it and have fun,” and here I am.

How have you developed as an artist, both professionally and personally?

Personally, it’s opened up a whole new world of creativity to me. The whole journey of it has been fantastic; meeting all of these great people and producing artwork that I like. I love that now I can paint a picture and give it to someone.

What was an artwork that had a lasting effect on you? How so?

I’m so amazed all the time at the level of creativity and artistry just here in North Vancouver, just the local art that I see around. I also went to the Vancouver Art Gallery and saw Metis which blew my mind, and last winter I saw some Emily Carr which I love.

What is your favorite art gallery or event in Vancouver?

I love the art crawls. They have one in North Vancouver and one in East Vancouver.

What type of environment do you prefer to work in (i.e.: a studio, home, etc.)?

I like to be by myself sometimes but I also like to be in a studio where there are people I can bounce things off of and ask, “What do you think? What do you see?” I like to get advice, too.

Where do you get inspiration for your art?

My daughter, the landscape, other art.

What was the first piece of art you sold?

Well, I don’t sell my art! My mother in-law asked me to paint a picture of the Capilano River. It was the first painting that I thought “I like this,” and I kept it, but painted her a couple more and gave them to her. I think that if I didn’t get so attached to my paintings, I could sell them. They’re like my babies!

Is there a main theme or message to your art? If so, what is it?

It is more of pure expressionism for me.

What is your favorite (and least favorite) thing about being an artist?

My favorite thing is that it’s a way of being creative and expressing yourself – that feeling of the great escape. It’s like meditation. I haven’t found anything negative about it yet!

Did you always want to be an artist? If not, what did you want to be and  when/why did you change your mind?

I never saw myself as an artist. I wish that I had tapped into this side of myself when I was younger would have loved to be a dancer, but during the time that I was growing up, it was never something I could imagine doing. Over the last 25 or 30 years I’d squelched that side of myself. Before my work as a Teacher, I was a Dental Assistant and would wear a different sweater every day. I’ve always liked to be creative and express myself but never thought it was something I could do. I think that if I had grown up in a different time or family I would have explored it a lot earlier.

Do you currently have a favorite artist?

Yes! He has a studio in West Vancouver. Yates. He does all sorts of West Coast landscapes with nice palette and color.

Describe the Vancouver art scene in three words

I don’t really know it that well, but I would say there are a lot of different kinds of art so versatile, exciting, and welcoming. All of the people that I’ve met have been very positive.

What can’t she do? Meet International Artist and Super-Woman Marie-Anne Vorlet!

Marie-Anne Vorlet was born in the French part of Switzerland and raised as well as schooled in the German part of same country. After high school, no longer able to numb the urge to travel and experience the world, she looked for ‘portable’ work. She spent her first years as a working girl as a nanny in England, Cameroon (West Africa) as well as in Switzerland. During those much enjoyed years she developed a yearning for more knowledge which surprised her as she remembered school as a place of boredom. After earning the ‘Matura’, the Swiss school diploma required to enter any of the countries universities, a short detour to medical school helped Vorlet figure out what she did not want in life. It also allowed her to finance her years studying math, physics and astronomy. Working night shifts at the major teaching hospital in Zurich, teaching math as well as Tao Yoga on the side made ends meet. After these quite long years the travel bug hit again. Lucky enough to find a very flexible employer in one of the two big Swiss banks as well as work as a freelance translator, Vorlet explored parts of Europe, America, Nepal, Hawaii and South Africa. Crafting, especially sewing and knitting has been a hobby since age five, a year working in the shop of a avant-garde dress-maker in the late eighties, gave her the possibility to have a close look behind the scene. Statement: “No matter what I am doing, I am at my very best when dealing with a situation that is completely new to me. And I do love to create some

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Interview With Marie-Anne Vorlet

by Alyssa Laube  

About: Marie-Anne Vorlet, born and raised in Switzerland, is a woman of many titles – from world traveler and volunteer to artist and entrepeneur! For more information on Marie, visit:

http://www.thetinybigbag.net/MAVBio.htm

 Having grown up in the beautiful country of Switzerland, were you influenced by your roots? How so? 

Yes. I think my roots have indeed influenced me, especially the French Suisse part of them, as well as our beautiful landscapes. The Swiss “Frenchies” take life easier and appreciate beauty and the arts a lot!

You’ve spent a lot of time travelling in your life. How did this change you, both as a person and an artist?

Travelling is definitely my bliss in life. I love to see new landscapes and colors, taste new foods, and meet people with different ideas. Travelling and volunteering in Africa made me appreciate the many possibilities we have and tend to take for granted in the rich countries!

How does Vancouver compare to other cities that you have lived in?

I love and appreciate the proximity of big city-life and nature that Vancouver offers. It makes it a part of my “all-time favorite cities” list, which includes Zurich and Cape Town for the same reasons.

Have you always had an adoration for new experiences? 

Yes – I actually had a longing for the “new and exotic” since Primary School, which, as a child, made me devour books with a passion.

As a person who has tried many different occupations, do you feel that they were necessary in order to find your true passion?

Definitely! Nothing compares to personal experience.

What do you consider to be that passion?

Art, making new ideas work, i.e. creating my own NGO: www.educationwithouborders.ch, which was inspired by my Canadian friends. After volunteering regularly at and supporting my friend Heather Reynold’s orphanage, ‘God’s Golden Acre’ in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, for years, I strongly believe that education is a door opener!

How many languages do you speak?

Four: Swiss German, German, French and English – I have plans for learning Zulu as soon as I have more free time.

How was it beneficial to be multilingual, professionally? 

It has been very beneficial, especially in Zurich because this city is quite international in its focus.

What is your favorite place that you have been to or lived in?

Namibia – the desert colors are just divine! Paris: fashion, art, food – need I say more?

Many of your paintings focus largely on shape and color. Where did this fascination come from? 

It still surprises me how a different color can “change” a shape, it just never gets boring.

You have quite the variety of hobbies! Which ones do you still practice today?

Traveling and spending as much time outdoors, preferably in nature that has not been altered by humans.

Are there any that you would like to explore?

Yes, learning to fly!

A recent project of yours is The Tiny Big Bag, described as “The ultimate fashionable tote handbag (which) folds into handkerchief size.” Where did you get the inspiration for this idea? 

Moving to Vancouver many years ago (in 2000) from a country with very strict laws concerning the environment I was shocked to see that plastic bags were still free and used in enormous numbers in Canada. My cultural-shock-question was: “Would you like this double bagged?”


For original ideas such as The Tiny Big Bag, do you prefer to manage them individually or cooperatively with others? 

I would love to take a highly motivated partner on board – someone who has strengths I do not have myself!

Looking back on your journey, do you have any favorite/least favorite memories?

My favorite memories include the first time I saw the ocean (all the space!) after so many mountains at home. And, of course, the first trip I took out of Europe at the age of 17, which led me to Cameroon. Since then I am hooked! Africa is still my favorite continent!

Is there any point in your development as an artist that you regret or cherish most? 

I have few regrets in life! I cherish the fact that I am mostly self-taught in regards to my artwork. Curiosity is what keeps me going in life.

What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s Art Expo? 

The chance to meet people, see a lot of other peoples artwork and the possibility to show my work in a great location at Science World!

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