Got the Edge
A light-hearted Q&A with the people who make the Okanagan work


Vanessa Jahnke
Kirk Penton - Oct 18 - Got the Edge

Photo: Contributed

Name: Vanessa Jahnke

With what business or organization are you involved? PURE Gym & Juicery / Vanessa Jahnke, Health and Wellness Coach

What is your role with that organization? Owner

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? Ahh! We are so lucky in the Okanagan. First of all, the landscape is absolutely incredible; we have so many activities available at our fingertips. Secondly, my friends and I were just recently chatting about how much opportunity there is here for young people versus, for example, living in the bigger cities where it’s so hard to get ahead.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? I’d say Oprah! She is so full of wisdom and experience.

What’s your go-to happy place? My favourite happy place ever is Maui, but that’s not very “go-to.” Locally, I’d have to say a beach or a hike somewhere.

What are you most proud of? Starting a local business and getting through all the bumps in the road. We recently celebrated our third anniversary!

What are the top three things on your bucket list?
1) Live part-time in Maui.
2) Hike Cinque Terre, Italy, with my mom.
3) Move my parents to the Okanagan.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Oh my gosh. Probably cricket pizza at the Hooded Merganser in Penticton.

Latest movie or book? I’m really into podcasts right now. I’m currently listening to a lot of Ed Mylett. I commute every day so I get a lot of time in my car, and it’s the perfect time to listen to speakers.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? A ticket to travel!

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? Anywhere, doing anything with my family!

Paul Mondoux
Contributed - Sep 17 - Got the Edge

Photo: Contributed

Name: Paul Mondoux

With what business or organization are you involved? Royal Lepage Kelowna

What is your role with that organization? Realtor®

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? My favourite thing about living in the Okanagan is the community itself. It seems that no matter what group you fall into, whether it be the single life, family life or business life, the people here in the Okanagan are all welcoming and it’s a contagious feeling. I moved here from Ontario in 2005, a single guy looking to build a future, and the Valley has given me that and then some.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? Of course I want to say someone famous and influential, but in the end it would be any one of my family members in Ontario. I’ve never been homesick living in the Valley, but it would be nice to see the entire gang back home, the one cruelty of life is the loss of time to visit with those who truly matter.

What’s your go-to happy place? It’s always been my motorcycle, but with kids it’s a double-edged sword. You love the time on the open road by yourself, but the guilt of not spending time with the kids gets to you. So I’ve found a new passion, and that’s cruising around in my old convertible with the music blasting and the kids bouncing around in the back seat.

What are you most proud of? My personal accomplishments are extremely important to me. It’s how I measure my value to this world. And although I’m a just Realtor and not a space engineer I’d like to think I’m a trusted advisor to those who need it the most. These values have been ingrained into my children. There are no free lunches. My kids are all hard workers in everything they do, and that I have to say I’m proud of the most.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? This is where it gets deep …
1. I’m scared to death of sharks, but at some point before I DIE I want to swim with the sharks off the Galapagos Islands.
2. Travel is always on everyone’s bucket list. And with social media you can see everything a million times over. But to stand in the Colosseum in Rome and touch the walls that once housed the battleground for everyone’s entertainment … now that’s actually travelling.
3. My other fear has always been heights ever since I fell off a ladder when I was a kid. I’ve managed to suppress my fear, but of course I need to push the limit. So when the kids are old enough you will find me jumping out of a plane!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? What is weird, though? I’m a beer and smokie kind of guy. After a couple bouts with food poisoning, I play it safe.

Latest movie or book? Ready Player One. I have to admit that when the idea of virtual reality came out 20 years ago I was extremely excited about the idea. Escape to anywhere and do anything you’ve ever wanted. Want to be the hero? Sure, do it. Want to fly mock speeds and not have to worry about dying? Do it! But the movie truly captures exactly what I believe the world would collapse to in real life, and that truly scared me. My little kids don’t play video games very often, and that’s just so they keep being focused on the real world.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? OK, so honestly the best gift was from my mom. She signed me up for the sock of the month club! And let me tell you: There are few things that excite me in the mailbox, but when that orange package is sitting there I get all excited like Christmas morning.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? So here’s the thing: When you have a job to do, you do it. So I’d probably being showing houses. And if there were no houses to show I’d be making posts on Facebook reminding everyone of the huge party that’s going to happen in about a week. After all, it’s called a celebration of life!

Jonathan Derksen
Okanagan Edge Staff - Sep 05 - Got the Edge

Photo: Contributed

Name: Jonathan Derksen

With which business or organization are you involved? Kelowna Secondary School/Art of Adventure Productions

What is your role with that organization? Video Production for Grades 11 and 12/conservation documentary filmmaking

What is your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? I’m always blown away by the stunning variety in our natural environment. I live on the edge of the Okanagan Highlands, a fragile ecosystem where several life zones collide. On a given day in the summer I might see a rattlesnake, quail, deer, elk, bear, moose, bald eagle, bobcat or even a flying squirrel. Over the course of a day I can hike to the top of Big White mountain (7,608 feet), bike the Kettle Valley Railway, do a wine tour in Peachland and then hit Lake Okanagan for a late swim. It’s unrivalled in terms of beauty and proximity.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. I had the chance to meet him some years ago in the Indian Himalayas, and I was profoundly moved by his message of peace, compassion and inclusivity. When he greets you, it’s like at that moment you’re the only human being the whole world. To his adherents, he’s a living saint.

What’s your go-to happy place? Either doing something adventurous outdoors with family and friends or sitting with my wife having coffee before the rest of the world has woken up.

What are you most proud of? As a Mennonite I’m not supposed to be proud, but since you asked … working on Dangerous World for National Geographic and Tattoo Hunter: India for Discovery Channel, and publishing Monsoon Baby, a travel memoir about life in the Indian Himalayas.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? To make a documentary that inspires people to treat the natural world around them with respect; to motorbike through the Andes; to come through this life saying, ‘I tried the best I could.’

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Jungle rat in tribal country in Arunachal Pradesh, India.

Latest movie or book? Stephen King’s The Green Mile about human decency in the face of grim humanity.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? My children, Akela and Kai.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? Saying thank you for this little pfffft! of an existence with loved ones by my side, somewhere wild and spectacular.

Mel Schmidt
Special to Okanagan Edge - Aug 28 - Got the Edge

Photo: Contributed

Name: Mel Schmidt

What business or organization are you involved with? The Simpłe Clothing Company

What is your role? Owner/Designer

What’s your favorite thing about living in the Okanagan? The unbelievable support that the ladies all over the Okanagan give me, whether it be buying my clothing or sharing it on social media … or giving me opportunities like this one. I could never do this without all of my friends/family/clients/strangers that cheerlead for me.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? I would take my nephew Theodore to Whitespot where we would enjoy Pirate Paks and vanilla milkshakes. He’s two and I’m 39 going on two. We like to party and laugh obnoxiously loud.

What’s your go-to happy place? Going to my sister’s place to visit with her and my nephew babies. Yes, I’m that crazy aunty.

What are you most proud of? I’m really proud to be unapologetically myself. There’s only one me in the world and I’m very “eccentric” is what nice people say, crazy is another common label. I am all of that and more. I love being me.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? I’ve been so blessed to have had so many bucket-y type experiences, but I’d have to say I want to go to a Beyoncé or Lady Gaga concert. I also want to visit Japan and get the best light-up sneakers ever. Lastly, I want to learn to fly. Not a plane, just me and my bod.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? My 30th birthday cake was made by my best friend Steph, and she said, “so what kind do you like” and I said, “none really.” My favourite food is potatoes and gravy. She made me a ginormous mountain of mash potatoes and lava-like gravy with red sparkles that were the fire. I ate it for two days straight. It worked wonders for a hangover.

Latest movie you’ve seen or book you’ve read: The last thing I read was Tarot cards for my friend while she was going through the grieving of losing her dog.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? The gift to start a brand new life two years ago. And it took a village of friends and family to help me figure out how to pick up the pieces of my once broken life and build a newer stronger one so I thank all of them.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? I would spend it with as many family and friends as possible and have a pool party and let my dog in our indoor pool we have at our complex. By the time I get a fine for letting a fur baby in the pool, I’ll be gone.

 

Priyaali Kanti
Special to Okanagan Edge - Aug 20 - Got the Edge

Photo: Contributed

Name: Priyaali Kanti

With what business or organization are you involved? Courage Productions

What is your role with that organization? I am a 2018 titleholder for the Miss BC Pageant, organized by Courage Production. I was crowned Miss Teen BC Interior.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? On my arrival in Canada everyone in the Okanagan embraced me with open arms! I love how people are diverse, yet well blended as a community. Moreover, throughout the year I witness different events/activities. I get to ice skate in the winter and swim in the cool Okanagan Lake in the summer.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? I would like to meet my favourite Indian actress, Priyanka Chopra. Her journey began in the year 2000, when she was crowned Miss World, the same year I was born! I really admire the way she entertains the whole world. She is a self-made actress who grew up in a middle-class family. She is an epitome of hard work, and her attitude makes me believe in my own ability to be a successful actress like her.

What’s your go-to happy place? My bed! Who doesn’t wanna take a nap after a long day? 😉

What are you most proud of? Within just a year of moving from a diametrically opposite land, I have been able to stand on such a prestigious stage and strive for excellence. Being crowned as the Miss Teen BC Interior is an unexpected blessing, and I will always cherish it. Being crowned gave me opportunities to become more involved with the community and charities. I take great pride that British Columbia has chosen me as one of the representatives for the teens.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? Visiting four countries on every continent. Watching the journey of success of the girls I teach dancing. Being daring enough to skydive!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? When I was young, I wanted to taste my dog’s kibbles out of curiosity!

Latest movie or book? The latest movie I watched was “Hush” starring Kate Siegel. The movie revolves around a deaf and mute writer who fights an intruder in “silence.” The latest book I read was “Monsoon Baby” by Jonathan Derksen, which talks about the experience of a Canadian family in my native country, India.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? The best gift I have received in my life is my little Yorkie “Muffin.” He is the first thing I see in the morning and last thing I see before going to sleep.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? I will spend the last day of my life doing something I have never done before, with people I have never met before, in a place I have never been before. I will be myself and do everything that makes me smile!

Victor Laderoute
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jul 05 - Got the Edge

Photo: Contributed

Name: Victor Laderoute

What business or organization are you involved with? QB Gelato

What is your role with that organization? Owner/Gelato Maestro

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? Access to the incredible bounty of produce available in the valley. From fruit to organic herbs to milk and cream, there is nothing quite like it in Canada. Top that off with the orchards, farms and wineries … well, you’ve got one of the best places to live!

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? My dad’s father, my grandfather. I never knew him. He died when my father was very young. I would probably want to invite my own dad to this lunch so we could both get a chance to ask questions and learn more about this man. If he is anything like my own father, I am confident it would be a great lunch!

What’s your go-to happy place? My home. And when I say that I don’t mean a place. It’s where I currently am … right now. So for me, today, it is here in Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley. This place makes me happy. The mountains, the lake … it is my go-to happy place.

What are you most proud of? QB Gelato. They say to pursue your dreams and make them a reality it takes a lot of guts and sacrifices, and I can definitely relate to that. I am so proud of what we accomplished with the shop and our ongoing commitment to bringing people together through the simple enjoyment of great food and creating joyful moments.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? This question is hard to answer, because I’ve been fortunate to get through a lot of items on my list. I want to travel to the Maldives and snorkel the reef. It would be awesome to visit a good friend in Sydney and stay at the hotel he manages, and lastly it would be awesome to one day own a small vineyard and learn the art of winemaking.

Latest movie or book? I grew up with Star Wars. I continue to be amazed by the franchise.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? My engagement ring from my partner, Kevin. I had given him his on Christmas Eve 2012. He asked where mine was. I said he needed to get me mine. It took ten months of guessing when he would finally present me with mine. When I had finally pretty much given up and about to just go out and purchase one, he totally surprised me on my birthday with not only the ring but a surprise engagement party! It was awesome.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? I would spend it with a huge dinner party! Good food, good friends, good wine … what a way to go out!

Adam Semeniuk
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 08 - Got the Edge

Image: Facebook.

Name: Adam Semeniuk.

What business or organization are you involved with? Red Bird Brewing.

What is your role with that organization? Owner/operator.

What’s your favorite thing about living in the Okanagan? I love the tight-knit community we have, the outdoor culture, the amazing weather and the incredible growth we’re seeing in Kelowna. There’s a lot of opportunity here for anybody with a passion. Having grown up in Vernon originally, I can’t imagine myself living somewhere that doesn’t have a lake and mountains.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? My grandfather, Frank Williamson. He passed away when I was only six years old so I have the most amazing memories of him. I would have loved to talk to him as an adult and tried to absorb as much knowledge from him as I could. He was one of those guys that was 50 years ahead of his time.

What’s your go-to happy place? There’s a bench in Dilworth Mountain Park that overlooks the city, it has the most amazing view. It’s where I like to go when I just need to calm my thoughts, gain some perspective and recharge. I feel like I could just sit there all day.

What are you most proud of? I have to say I’m really proud of the brewery, Red Bird. It has definitely been the most challenging project I’ve ever taken on in my life. I don’t have any partners in the venture so I had to fund it myself by selling almost everything I own and refinancing my apartment. There have been a lot of good friends that have helped me along the way, some loaned me money, some helped scrape glue off the floor, some stained wood or helped grab wood pallets from around town and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my dad’s help on all the construction labour. It’s been an incredibly long and hard road, but it’s starting to pay off by seeing the community come together and show their support. We’ve only been open about two weeks (as of this writing) and already there are a good number of “regulars.”

What are the top three things on your bucket list? This probably sounds odd, but I don’t think I have a bucket list. I hope to travel more as the brewery becomes more self sufficient, and I just like making things. Every day, all I want to do is hang out with great people and make things, basically anything. Right now those things are beer and wood products.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I spent a lot of time in the South American jungle, and you definitely come across some different food. My dad and I were working down there and we would often stay in a camp. The camp cook made something different each day and one day it was raw cow stomach. It would have been rude to not finish our meals, so we did our best. I’m not a picky eater at all, there’s almost nothing I won’t eat, but that was the hardest thing to eat while sitting around a bunch of other people and not show your distaste at all.

Latest movie or book: How to Brew by John J. Palmer is very well written and so is The Brewer’s Handbook by Ted Goldammer. I just can’t read fictional novels, my brain wanders endlessly. I haven’t really watched a movie in a long time; I have been tied up for an insane amount of hours everyday working on the brewery. I did manage to go out and see the latest Spider-Man movie, though, which I thought was a lot of fun.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? It’s hard to identify something that really stands out. I’m an incredibly practical person, so any gift that is something I really, actually need is an amazing gift. Recently, a friend of mine gave me his old car because he didn’t need it anymore and I couldn’t afford a car having spent everything on the brewery; that was something that blew my mind.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? With a bunch of friends floating down a river on a hot sunny day with a beer in hand.

Yoree Grozenok
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 01 - Got the Edge

 

Image: Contributed

Name: Yoree Grozenok.

What business or organization are you involved with? 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

What is your role with that organization? General manager and owner.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? The friendly and positive people who live here; the small town feel in a larger city; the great outdoors; the work/life balance one can have here.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? Chris Hadfield. I don’t think I’ll get a chance to experience space travel so maybe he can share his memories with me. Also, I always wanted to know if it’s possible to eat potato chips in space.

What’s your go-to happy place? It’s a tie between Kelowna’s Kasugai Japanese Garden and Mission Greenway. Both make me happy in different ways.

What are you most proud of? Layla, my better half.

What are the top three things on your bucket list?
1. Visit New York City;
2. See polar bears;
3. Fly a jet fighter.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I’ve tried horse meat when I was in the Middle East but failed to like it in any way.

Latest movie or book? I’m currently re-reading The Godfather by Mario Puzo.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Every day is a gift.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? Going for a walk with my wife.

 

Lori Gordon
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 25 - Got the Edge

Image: Contributed

Name: Lori Gordon.

What business or organization are you involved with? BMO Nesbitt Burns, South Okanagan.

What is your role in that organization? Investment Advisor.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? The biodiversity of the Okanagan, sharing healthy living objectives with so many of our like-minded residents and, of course, the weather.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? My boyfriend’s mom Angela, she seemed like a wonderful mom with an adventurous spirit

What’s your go-to happy place? I have many: as long as it has minimal traffic, trees, water and lots of greenery, my happy meter will be full

What are you most proud of? I’m most proud of those who can find success against all odds.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? I thought long and hard about this. Its hard to narrow down to specific things, however, my top three would be:
1. Hiking the Swiss Alps;
2. An extensive tour of the Amalfi Coast in Italy;
3. Walking the Camino de Santiago.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? My weirdest food choice is less weird and more brave: Scottish black pudding. Although eating my kids’ special mothers day breakfasts was weird.. it was, of course, sweet and sentimental.

Latest movie or book? The first Harry Potter book, and a recent Economist magazine. Latest movie was the Red Sparrow—quite the thriller.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? The gift of common sense and, of course, three beautiful children and three gorgeous granddaughters.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? Surrounded by my wonderful friends and family, having a champagne picnic by a crystal-clear emerald lake in the Rocky Mountains.

Leslie Denoncourt
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 17 - Got the Edge

Name: Leslie Denoncourt.

What business or organization are you involved with? MOLT Bin Rentals Ltd.

What is your role with that organization? Owner/operator.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? The beauty of all four seasons. We moved here three years ago from Northern Alberta and on one of our first walks through the Gellatly Nut Farm we met up with a nice lady that told us Kelowna is the next
best place to heaven. We have managed to find a home tucked away on the farm loop, our very own little piece of heaven.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? My Dad. He passed away before I moved here. He always wanted to live in the Okanagan and would be so happy that I am able to raise my girls here.

What’s your go-to happy place? My backyard, where I can watch my kids swim and play.

What are you most proud of? Being able to break away from the fast pace of oilfield life. We have started living our life closer to nature and with a very different outlook on life. It used to be wishing and waiting for vacation time and days off to run away and travel to better places. I haven’t left the Okanagan since Christmas of 2014, now all my friends and family travel to us.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? Hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu for a second time when my girls are old enough; go on an African Safari; and visit Angkor Wat.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Stinky Tofu at a night market in Tiawan.

Latest movie or book: I’ve been watching reruns of Game of Thrones, getting ready for the new season.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? My Husband and children.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? Well, so far today, we have swam in the pool, smashed some rocks that we were hoping were geodes that we collected on a hike, and planned a BBQ for dinner. I would finish it off with a big cuddle on the couch while watching a movie or show before bed. Pretty perfect day for me.

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