The Team

Our Team: friendly, passionate, home chefs, urban gardeners, lovers of food, New Yorkers.

Wen-Jay Ying
Founder and Director

Starting Local Roots NYC at the age of 26, Ying was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by Mayor Bloomberg for neighborhood development through her work at Local Roots NYC. She is an alumni of The Good Work Institute, speaks at the International Culinary Center Farm to Table Program, and is a contributing editor to Pot Luck Journal. She was a special guest invited to attend the 50th year anniversary UN Global Goals Gala due to her work in the field of sustainability and agriculture. Quoted in the NY Times and Huffington Post on food topics, Ying and has a weekly radio show called Food Stripped Naked where she converses with chefs, farmers, and others involved in the food system.

Wen-Jay loves to share her ideas on local communities and honoring different forms of capital which she believes can create deep connections and positive change in our world. She believes small businesses can change the world by being mindful, community organizers and producing high quality products and services. Entrepreneurs and small business owners do not have a choice but to feel inspired and invigorated by new ideas and creating change. By taking what is presented to us, we can pioneer a new path of "better." She has played the bass and violin in various bands, loves to converse with strangers, travel to near and far away lands, and hike in Upstate NY or walk endlessly throughout NYC. 


Jon Katz
Sourcing & Operations Manager

Jon joined the Local Roots team in 2018 after many years of working in the sustainable agriculture movement outside his native New York City. Jon is passionate about growing, distributing, and eating local food.


Kevin Levine
Operations Team Lead

Kevin joined the Local Roots team in 2018 after working in the film industry in and around NYC. Growing up, he learned cooking, baking, and sustainable organic gardening from his mother, and decided to pursue a career in a field he was passionate about. Kevin enjoys experimenting in his kitchen and homebrewing, as well as tending to his small backyard peppermint plant.

Operations Associate
Chris Joined the Local Roots NYC team in August looking to expand his knowledge on food systems and the environment. Chris gained most of his interest in this field while studying for his degree in Economics at Colorado College. While not working at Local Roots NYC, Chris works as a Framer of fine art in Gowanus. In his leisure time, Chris loves to tend to his creative side with baking and cooking, spend time with his family and friends, and explore place and events around NYC.

Ray Koytcheff

Operations Associate
Ray joined Local Roots in 2018 after several years of supporting the local food movement. He first worked as a research fellow for a non-profit in DC dedicated to organic agriculture and later volunteered for a food hub serving new farmers in Boston. After returning to New York last year, he provided delivery services for an organic community farm and currently works on GrowNYC's Zero Waste Program. With an academic background in economics, he is poised to find ways to create the most sustainable urban food system. Ray enjoys playing soccer, running, cooking, drinking craft beers, and discovering new music in his free time.