Featured Speakers and Chefs




KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Peggy Liu, Chairperson of JUCCCE

As Chairperson of JUCCCE, Peggy Liu is one of the leading catalysts of a green China and consults companies and governments on sustainability and cross-cultural collaboration. JUCCCE is an environmental organization accelerating systemic change in diets, sustainable cities, sustainable consumerism and smart grid. It is most noted for its multi-sector, cross-border convening power.

Peggy is a Distinguished Professor at China Academy of Governance, a lecturer at China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong, and the National Academy for Mayors of China. She is a board member or on non-exec advisory committees of Project DrawdownEAT ForumHillary Institute, FTSE Environmental Markets Committee. She previously served on advisory committees for Marks & Spencer, HP, World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Councils on Sustainable Consumption, WEF GAC on New Energy Architecture, Clinton Global Initiative. She is a recurring judge for The Circulars at Davos (circular economy) and the Hult Prize (social entrepreneurship at college level). She is a consultant on market entry into China to companies such as Duke Energy and governments such as New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and consults on sustainable market innovation for companies such as Unilever and Danone. Peggy has been named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Foreign Policy's shaper of US-China relations, the Hillary Step for climate change solutions, a Time Magazine Hero of the Environment, one of China’s top 50 innovative business leaders by China Business News Weekly.

Watch her in: Voice of America’s “A Single Step: Journeys of Women Leaders”, "Cities Changing Diabetes", "Catching the Sun", Discovery Channel’s “Powering the Future” Part 3 and Part 4, Discovery Channel "How China Works".

Prior to JUCCCE, she was a venture capitalist, an Internet pioneer in Silicon Valley heading one of the earliest e-commerce companies, a management consultant at McKinsey, a software product manager and a developer. She is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, in Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.


PANELIST: Kim Johnson, Executive Director of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation

A teacher who stumbled into music management, Kim Johnson utilizes her education theory to create community engagement campaigns and programs for music tours and festivals as well as environmental foundations and schools. In 2003 Kim, together with her musician husband Jack Johnson, hosted the first Kokua Festival and founded the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that supports environmental education in the schools and communities of Hawaii. As the Executive Director for the first 12 years, Kim developed and continues to oversee all five of the Foundations' main programs including 3Rs School Recycling, KHF Field Trip Grants, KHF Mini-Grants, Plastic Free Hawaii, and AINA in Schools, a farm to school initiative which connects children to their land and food by promoting healthy school lunches featuring locally grown produce and providing nutrition education and garden-based learning.

In 2008, Kim and Jack founded the Johnson Ohana Foundation to support environmental, art, and music education, which has directed grants and donations to over 400 non-profits around the world. Through her leadership roles on the boards of both the Kokua Hawaii Foundation and Johnson Ohana Foundation, Kim has spearheaded efforts to build an Impact Investment strategy in order to align investments with mission and values, to support social and environmental impact, and to leverage influence as an investor to promote corporate sustainability.

As Jack’s manager, Kim has taken a lead role in advancing greening initiatives for all aspects of Jack Johnson’s touring and has served as the creative lead in the development of fan engagement campaigns through their All At Once social action network. Kim has participated in music industry panels including Pollstar and FestForums and has recently joined the advisory board for REVERB, as part of an ongoing effort to take green touring practices to the next level industry-wide. Throughout all of these efforts, Kim & Jack strive to raise awareness in support of sustainable local food systems and plastic free initiatives.


PANELIST: Noelani Kalipi, Executive Director of the Kohala Institute

As Executive Director for the Kohala Institute at Iole, Ms. Kalipi manages a team focused on fostering place-based learning experiences for students of all ages and developing and operating innovative social enterprises within 2400 acres on Hawaii Island. Utilizing its Collaboration For Solutions framework, Kohala Institute’s programs and projects explore the universal values of Gratitude, Respect, Accountability, Courage and Engagement, (GRACE) and inspire an appreciation for the environment through demonstrated systems integration and practices to promote resiliency.  

Noelani has worked in the areas of renewable energy, civic engagement, business development, policy advocacy, and community-based economic development and empowerment in indigenous communities. She served as Counsel to Senator Daniel K. Akaka in Washington, DC, and was the Democratic Staff Director for the United States Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

She has also served on active duty in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and graduated from George Mason University with a B.A. in Government & Politics and Economics and earned her Juris Doctor from the National Law Center at George Washington University. Ms. Kalipi lives in Hilo, is married to Gaylen Kalipi, and has two daughters, Hauoli and Kuuipo. During her free time, Noelani coaches fast-pitch softball and volunteers for various nonprofit organizations.


MODERATOR: Kimi Werner, Globally-Renowned Food Sustainability Advocate

The ocean has long been a source of sustenance, inspiration and adventure for Kimi Werner. As a young child growing up off the grid in an isolated part of coastal Maui, she floated behind her father as he free-dove for her family's primary food source. Only later as an adult on Oahu did she understand the central role the ocean was to play in her life when she discovered her own passion for free diving.

Kimi has gone on to become the United States National Spearfishing Champion, a certified culinary chef, an award-winning artist and a sought-after speaker. Her daily life is a pure fusion of her talents, rooted in sustainability and geared towards a healthy future for our global community.






Eric Oto, Hoku's

Eric Oto is the Chef de Cuisine of Hoku’s and oversees all overall culinary direction of the award-winning restaurant. Eric has over a decade of culinary experience, having served as Sous Chef at The Four Seasons Koolina’s Fish House on the restaurant’s executive opening team. Prior to his position at The Four Seasons, Eric was a Chef for ten years at Halekulani working at Orchids restaurant and he also handled the hotel’s culinary program for events and banquets. 

Born and raised on Oahu, Eric grew up with strong roots from Hawaii’s Mauka and Makai (land and ocean). He is a fisherman, craftsman, farmer, planter and cultivator of soil and food. Eric learned these skills, the philosophies of respecting the sea and nurturing the land and his appreciation of the earth from his father who is a life-long gardener, farmer and fisherman. His love and passion for the culinary arts began when he was four years old and he caught his first fish with a bamboo cane pole sparking his interest in cooking. Eric is an active fisherman and enjoys shoreline and offshore fishing and free diving. His passion for the ocean has carried through into his culinary journey. In his free time, he prepares the fish he’s caught by drying, smoking or pickling it.

He is a graduate of the Leeward Community College’s Culinary Program and a recipient of the Kapaa Rotary Club Alan Wong Scholarship. Eric gives back to the community by volunteering for the Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation’s Chef Mentor program for James Campbell High School and also cooks and volunteers at fundraiser events such as the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, Great Chefs Fight Hunger for the Hawaii Food Bank and Bishop Museum’s Ulupono Awards.


Keith Pajinag, Ravish Honolulu

Keith Pajinag was born on Oahu, but he later grew up in kitchens around Juneau, Alaska. Peeling potatoes and chopping vegetables while standing on egg crates in the back of the kitchen, Chef Keith worked his way through his mother’s seventeen different establishments, learning everything he could about each station. At 22 years of age, he was presented with a decision to go to culinary school or own a restaurant. He decided on the latter.

Chef Keith moved to Seattle, where he began cooking at the city's Four Seasons while working in no less than three other kitchens at the same time. Although his work ethic allowed him to quickly move up the food chain at the Four Seasons, it was chefs like Jared Wentworth who helped shape his own style. Keith developed his culinary chops in Seattle but always had a passion for coming back home to Hawai'i because of its local fare. 

He brings with him a Pacific Northwestern culinary background and Hawaii-based upbringing to his position as the Executive Chef at THE MODERN HONOLULU. What Keith loves about working at THE MODERN HONOLULU is that he has the freedom to express his vision, as well as the freedom to express his core value of creativity. One of his biggest passions is also fulfilled in seeing his team grow and mentoring them in their career. Keith was part of the team who opened the first Waikiki luxury lifestyle hotel in 2010.  Bringing many years of professional experience in the culinary and management sides, chef Keith executes flawless events upholding the AAA Four Diamond ratings of THE MODERN HONOLULU.


Lawrence Nakamoto, Mariposa

Lawrence Nakamoto is the Executive Chef of the award-winning Mariposa restaurant, located on Neiman Marcus's third floor. Chef Lawrence joined the team three and a half years ago as a line cook and served most recently as the evening Sous Chef. 

Lawrence received his associate culinary arts degree from Kapiolani Community College in 2008 and has 11 years of experience in the restaurant industry. His most recent positions before joining Mariposa include Executive Chef at Il Lupino as well as Sous Chef at Kahala Resorts. Prior to that, Chef Lawrence spent a combined four years at Elua, Sapori Enoteca and Padovani’s Grill under mentors Philippe Padovani and Donato Loperfido. His most recent position was at Il Lupino as their Executive Chef.

When he’s not in the kitchen, Lawrence enjoys cycling and exploring brunch spots around the islands.


Troy Terorotua, BREW'd

Chef Troy Terorotua is the owner and chef of REAL a gastropub in Kakaako and BREW’d craft pub in Kaimuki. REAL a gastropub is Hawaii’s first beer-centric gastropub, which opened in May of 2013.  REAL is presently the go-to place for craft beer in the state of Hawaii. It received a 2013 Gold Hale Aina Award for Best Beer Program and Top Write-In Vote for Best Bar Food. Troy opened his second gastropub, BREW’d craft pub in April of 2014.

Chef Troy, who is of Tahitian and American descent, graduated from the Florida Culinary Institute with two associate degrees in culinary arts and international baking and pastry. During his training, Troy had the honor to serve as an apprentice chef on the Southeast Regional Team of the 1992 ACF Culinary Team USA, where he worked and learned from many of the most acclaimed chefs and master chefs in the country. After completing his duties with Team USA, Troy was named the National Apprentice Culinary Team USA as one of five to represent the USA in the international competition for the 1993 Taste of Canada.

Before moving to Hawaii, Troy worked at and managed several of South Florida’s premier restaurants. In 1997, he moved to Hawaii after he was recruited by Chef Sam Choy to become corporate chef of his growing restaurant chain. Chef Troy helped in the development and opening of five restaurants for the Let’s Eat Hawai‘i campaign. As the corporate chef, he traveled exclusively with Chef Choy, cooking side by side with many of the world’s best culinary minds such as Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Iron Chef Morimoto, Wolfgang Puck, and Charlie Trotter.


The Welch Brothers, OnoPops

Joe Welch convinced his chef brother Josh to move home, from San Francisco to Honolulu, where they were both born and raised, to open OnoPops in 2009, over Josh's initial skepticism. Committed to offering Hawaii the most delicious frozen treats, ice pops and shave ice syrups made from 100% local agricultural ingredients, The Welch Brothers have been keeping their promise to support local ag with their brand for almost 8 years now.