Our Team

DAVID GUNAWAN
Chef/Owner

David Gunawan is, above and beyond all else, the paterfamilias at Farmer’s Apprentice. He began his culinary career working in the kitchen at a West Lafayette brewpub while pursuing his degree in environmental engineering at Purdue University. He earned his stripes in back-of-house roles under acclaimed chefs such as Chris Nugent at Les Nomades and Carrie Nahabedian at Michelin-starred Naha in Chicago before landing in Vancouver — where he made stops at West, Maenam and Wildebeest before launching the farm-to-table staple known as Farmer’s Apprentice in 2013.

Gunawan’s abiding affinity for sourcing the best fresh, seasonal ingredients by supporting local farms, pastures and providers led Farmer’s Apprentice to be ranked No. 2 on enRoute Magazine’s list of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2014, the same year the restaurant also swept the podium with nods for Best New Restaurant, Best Casual Restaurant and Restaurant of the Year at the 25th Annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. In 2015, Gunawan opened South Granville Wine Bar Grapes & Soda next door to Farmer’s Apprentice and Royal Dinette in Downtown Vancouver, with each restaurant further reflecting Gunawan’s innovative, artisanal and locavore-forward focus. In 2016, Gunawan was named Chef of the Year at the annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. | @davegoonie

NICKNAME | The Original Apprentice
FUN FACT | David Gunawan is full of fun facts that make most of us cringe and wish we did more with the precious life we were given. Also has a dog named Gyoza.

BARDIA ILBEIGGI

Bardia is an Iranian ex-pat who immigrated to the Great White North at the age of 19 to study aerospace engineering and found his rightful place behind the stove. He changed his flight plan mid stream, travelled to Paris and cut his teeth as a true chef de résistance before returning to the West Coast to become a fixture at Gastown’s L’Abattoir. An accomplished swimmer and fan of Canadian indie-alternative music, Bardia revels in the camaraderie and collaboration that’s always on display at Farmer’s Apprentice | @bardia

NICKNAME | Persian Star
FUN FACT | Is accomplished at both flamenco guitar and cooking — sorry ladies, he’s happily married.

NATALIE BROWN
General Manager

From humble beginnings working at a pizzeria in her hometown of Lake Cowichan, Natalie went off to see the world and bolster what is now a sterling front-of-house resume by working at restaurants from Banff, AB to South America — where she earned a modest 75 cents an hour — to Scotland and Australia’s famed Gold Coast. Armed with an outgoing, affable personality and an exhaustive knowledge of fine wine, good food and stellar service, Natalie worked for a number of notable chefs and restaurateurs such as Andrey Durbach, Chris Stewart and Vikram Vij at various Vancouver eateries before coming to Farmer’s in 2015, where she takes pride in ditching pretension for education to help connect guests with Farmer’s signature philosophy of supporting local farms and featuring fresh, local and sustainably sourced ingredients.

NICKNAME |  Abhors “Nat.” Just “Natalie Brown,” if you please.
FUN FACT | When she was a young girl and developed an affinity for lobster, her parents joked that “she’d better marry rich.”

KIERAN FANNING
Wine Director/Sommelier

The newest member to join forces with the front-of-house staff at Farmer’s, Kieran is an aficionado of the finer things in life, from WSET Level III wine sorcery, travelling the world and the enigmatic musings of poet-musician warlord Tom Waits. His experience in the industry began with John Blakeley at Le Parisien and David Hawksworth at Bel Café before graduating to the roles of Wine Waiter at Jules Bistro and Assistant and eventually Head Sommelier at Chambar Restaurant. He brings to Farmer’s an appreciation and innate knowledge of the myriad sensory pursuits shared and appreciated by oenophiles, which gives him a unique advantage when it comes to selecting exclusive natural, biodynamic and organic varietals for the wine list at Farmer’s Apprentice. | @kieranfearing

NICKNAME |  Prodigy
FUN FACT | A classically trained jazz pianist who wears a pair of specs that bring to mind Elvis Costello and Dave Brubeck.

ZACHARY SOMJEN

After graduating high school, Zach decided to dedicate himself to a career on the line and embarked on his first stage at Market by Jean-Georges in Downtown Vancouver. From there, he landed jobs at Chinatown’s The Parker Restaurant and Gastown’s Bambudda and Blacktail Restaurant + Lounge before joining Farmer’s in 2015. When he’s not lending his talents to the Farmer’s kitchen, you can catch Zach with his toes in the sand or board in the fresh pow. | @zacharysomjen

NICKNAME | The Mad Hungarian
FUN FACT |  Used to swim competitively in high school with the Canadian Dolphin Swim Club. Still looks good in a Speedo.

JAN GUMBMANN

A culinary sleeper some could say, Jan — pronounced “Yann” — would regularly attempt to prepare meals while growing up in his hometown of Erlangen, Germany, with admittedly little success. With time, tweaks and training, however, he shook off the ignoble epithet of “one-pot wonder” and apprenticed for three years in a local restaurant near Nuremburg before vacationing in Canada and falling for Vancouver’s natural beauty. He was drawn to the uniquely collaborative, kindred-spirit approach at Farmer’s and walked into the restaurant cold in September 2016 — we like to think that he’s never looked back. | @jan_is_doing

NICKNAME | The Comedian
FUN FACT | Used to hit the hookah and play Nintendo 64 until 5 a.m. on a semi-regular basis during his misspent youth.