Take a bite of the Culinary Club’s latest craving


Photo by Sneha David

Dimitiri Moshovitis, the chef and co-founder of Cava came to talk to WCHS’ culinary club about his experience in the culinary industry and the process of opening a business.

By Sneha David, Assistant Online Editor

From salads to bowls and wraps, Cava—a Mediterranean fast casual restaurant chain—seems to have just about every option while still remaining healthy and convenient. Cava has locations all across the United States, one being in Cabin John Shopping Center. With its close proximity to WCHS, Cava has become a favorite among students. The WCHS Culinary club, created by WCHS junior Sarah Yesnowitz and freshman Carly Yesnowitz, had the co-founder and chef of Cava, Dimitri Moshovitis to come speak to their club about his experience in the industry.

“I wanted Chef Dimitri Moshovitis to talk to club members because he has insight that only someone so successful in the industry could share,” S. Yesnowitz said. “Our club needed someone to not only inspire members but also inform them about the realities of the culinary industry.”

The chain started in 2006, when founders Moshovitis, Ike Grigoropoulos and Ted Xenohristos combined their love for the traditional Mediterranean meals they grew up with their love for cooking.

“In 2006, we opened our first restaurant, a sit down Cava Mezze,” Moshovitis said. “However, we realized there weren’t any healthy fast-casual mediterranean options. That’s when we started opening the fast-casual Cavas around the United States. I thought there was a need not only for healthy food but for flavorful and honest food.”

Moshovitis knew that he wanted to go into the culinary industry at an early age. Growing up, he always loved to be around food and his inspiration came heavily from his mother. He started working in the industry at age 15.

“I grew up in a household where my mother cooked a lot of food all the time. I loved going out to eat and I loved food,” Moshovitis said. “In general, the way my mother cooked was all natural and food was a family event. When I was 15, I got my first job washing dishes at a restaurant. I was willing to take any job ever just to be around cooking.”

Moshovitis also wanted WCHS students to understand that expanding and creating a business takes time. In order for Cava to have gotten where it is today, each location had to be successful before they could open new ones.

“We expanded very carefully,” Moshovitis said. “We started with just raising a little bit of money and then with good food and good service we gained fast traction. Our first fast-casual restaurant was in Bethesda and from there we opened up a second one. And we just kept getting rounds of funding to get to the point where we are today.”

However, this chain has had its fair share of trials and tribulations like any business. Moshovitis has had to overcome those failures and learn from his mistakes in order to keep Cava running.

“There has been a lot of failure,” Moshovitis said. “We’ve had to close restaurants. We’ve had problems finding team members. All these failures just make you stronger. From restaurants closing, we find out why and what went wrong and learn from our mistakes and just keep going. Looking forward and moving on from your mistakes is just the biggest thing.”

Moshovitis emphasized the fact that even though he has had to overcome obstacles, he cares about his restaurant and has a passion for his job that keeps him going. Without this passion, his business would not keep thriving.

“I learned from listening to him talk that it’s important to follow your passions even if they don’t seem attainable because it’s easier to achieve success if you truly love what you’re doing,” WCHS junior and culinary club member Sareena Haq said.

Cava’s large success can be attributed to Moshovitis’ punctuality and diligence. These traits are not only necessary to be successful as a business owner, but are also key to be successful as a student.

“The number one thing that makes you successful anywhere, even at school, is being on time,” Moshovitis said. “Being on time and working hard. One of the reasons I love being a chef is because I could study until I am 90 and I would still only know 20% of the information out there. So just read and expand your knowledge. My whole day isn’t just practicing but also reading books and learning more.”

One of the big takeaways that many students got from Moshovitis’ visit is the effort it takes to create a business. It was very important for students to see the process behind creating a business, whether it be in the culinary field or not.

“Personally, I learned about how Moshovitis and his co-owners found a niche in the industry for fast casual Mediterranean food,” S. Yesnowitz said. “Then, after decades of hard work they opened hundreds of restaurants. My biggest takeaway was the amount of people and years it took to grow as a food chain.”