Our mission-focused team is led by Lee Cooper, entrepreneur and engineer; Zack Werner, food scientist and research chef; and Jeni Cooper, customer communications.
Lee Cooper graduated from NC State University with a degree in Engineering Operations. After working in technical sales, he founded an industrial valve company and grew that business over a period of 25 years. In 2017, Lee sold this successful business where he continued on as a part-time consultant. But being driven by the desire to create and use his business prowess for the greater good, he began to contemplate what would be next. Lee has been vegetarian for 30 years, so it was natural that his next venture would be something in the plant-based arena. He is now pursuing this dream, as Founder and CEO of Barvecue.
Zack Werner grew up in Michigan and started his culinary expedition at age 14. He was a self-taught foodie until attending Michigan State University where he graduated with a degree in Food Science. After graduating, Zack attended the Culinary Institute of Michigan. He held Chicago and New York based positions in Quality, Research and Development, and Food Technology, followed by a move back to Michigan for a Quality Assurance Manager position at a large production facility. Zack joined Barvecue as a Founding Partner, Chef and COO. He lives in Concord, NC with his wife and two dogs, Izzy and Arlie.
Jeni Cooper received a degree in Speech Pathology and worked in this field briefly, then as a Computer Programmer and later as a Personal Gardener. After adopting two girls, she became a full-time mom and in 2009 founded an all-volunteer, grass-roots charity to provide support for the abandoned children of Romania and children with special needs in the Lake Norman area of NC. She has lived a vegetarian lifestyle for over 30 years and lives in Davidson with Lee, their two daughters, their dog Oscar, three cats, two goats and one pig. Possessing a passion to help those most vulnerable, she is excited to help make an impact in the plant-based world as part of the Barvecue team. She is currently in charge of social media.