Panel and Chefs
EAT THINK DRINK: Show Me the Green will be kicked off with a thought-provoking presentation led by Keynote Speaker Lou Cooperhouse, a globally-renowned leader in food business innovation, incubation, acceleration and industry cluster formation. Afterward, a panel of industry experts will then guide an important discussion on food innovation and what makes a value-added product investment-worthy.
Continued fellowship and networking will then take place over an interactive dine-around featuring Honolulu's hottest chefs and notable tastemakers. Guests will have the opportunity to experience captivating dishes that have been carefully curated by each chef inspired by the disruptive food innovation marketplace.
MEET THE PANELISTS
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Lou Cooperhouse, Rutgers Food Innovation Center
Lou Cooperhouse has over 30 years of extensive business and technology expertise in the food industry, and is a recognized global authority in business innovation and incubation. He has led cross-functional teams in a wide array of entrepreneurial settings including new business startups, mid-sized and family-run companies, multinational corporations, foodservice and retail operations, university entrepreneurship centers, and industry trade associations.
Lou is a founder and the executive director of the Rutgers Food Innovation Center (FIC), a world-class business incubation and economic development accelerator program, which provides expertise to domestic and international food businesses and has received global recognition for its unique model and its economic impacts. Lou also serves as founder of the Food Business Incubation Network (FoodBIN), a global consortium and network of food incubators, accelerators and shared-use kitchens, that is being developed in collaboration with the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA). In addition, Lou currently serves as Executive Director of the New Jersey Food Processors Association; as president of the New Jersey Business Incubation Network (NJBIN); on the Board of Directors of the InBIA, and on the Editorial Advisory Board of Produce Processing Magazine. Previously, Lou served on the Boards of the Refrigerated Foods Association, United Fresh Produce Association, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Future Farmers of America – New Jersey Region.
In the private sector, Lou has considerable entrepreneurial and innovative experiences in the specialty and perishable prepared foods industry, and in nutritional and functional foods. Previously, Lou served as president & COO of F&S Produce, a leading regional supplier of fresh-cut produce and value-added refrigerated foods, providing leadership to over 500 employees, located at two facilities with more than 125,000 operations. Prior to this, he served as co-founder, president and CEO of MenuDirect Corporation, a unique health, wellness, and medical nutrition company, which raised four rounds of venture funding. Earlier in his career, Lou held positions of increasing responsibility at Campbell Soup Company, ConAgra, Nestlé-funded Culinary Brands, Idle Wild Farms, and Grand Union Supermarkets in areas of business development, product development, quality assurance, and operations. As CEO of Food Spectrum, LLC, he has also provided a broad array of strategic consulting expertise to the food industry, servicing clients throughout North America, and in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Lou received an M.S. in Food Science and B.S. in Microbiology, both from Rutgers University, and has served as an adjunct professor at the Rutgers Business School.
Kyle Datta, Ulupono Initiative
As general partner, Kyle is responsible for developing Ulupono Initiative’s partnerships with stakeholders, policy makers and community organizations. He also oversees the organization’s systems-thinking approach to strategy development and transformation. Kyle is a member of Ulupono’s management team.
Kyle received a master’s degree in public and private management from the Yale School of Organization and Management, as well as a master’s degree in environmental science in resource economics from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His previous positions include CEO of U.S. Biodiesel Group; managing director of research and consulting at the Rocky Mountain Institute; and a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he served as managing director of the Asia energy practice and the U.S. utility practice. He currently serves on the boards of directors for Blue Planet Foundation and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation and is the national co-chair of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders.
Nancy Enos, Foodland Super Market
Nancy Enos is the Director of R. Field and Natural Gourmet for Foodland Super Market, Ltd. Responsible for the merchandising, buying and sales of natural, organic and specialty foods and products, she works to research and identify natural and organic food trends, build relationships with local food producers, bring new items into stores and introduce local consumers to unique and specialty foods.
Nancy brings almost four decades of experience in merchandising, buying and operations for local retailers to her current position and has held previous positions at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Hawaii, Food Pantry and Crazy Shirts, Inc. She received a Bachelor of Education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1980.
Greg Leong, Arocrest Company
Greg Leong is an entrepreneur and a seasoned finance executive with a passion for impact investing and sustainable development. He is the Chief Investment Officer & Co-founder of Kingfisher Mobile Limited and a Partner at Arocrest Company, a multi-family investment office in Hong Kong.
Greg has spent more than 20 years working in financial markets, focusing primarily on private equity and venture capital. He has held senior positions at the International Finance Corporation (IFC, private sector arm of the World Bank Group), Blackstone Private Equity, H&Q Asia Pacific and JPMorgan. Greg serves as a board of director for TruTag Technologies in Hawaii and is currently evaluating multiple, sustainable farming projects locally. Greg is graduate of George Washington University and holds a Master of International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago. Greg and his family recently returned to join his wife's family in Hawaii and has two daughters attending Mid-Pacific.
MODERATOR: Meli James, Hawaii Venture Capital Association
Meli James is the president of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association (HVCA), an organization founded in 1988 that seeks to foster entrepreneurial development through education, networking, and access to capital.
Previously, James has been the head of new ventures at Sultan Ventures, a boutique Honolulu-based venture firm focused on early-stage startups and investments as well as the program director of XLR8UH, the University of Hawaiʻi’s (UH’s) nationally recognized proof-of-concept commercialization center focused on mentoring and investing in UH affiliated innovations.
Born and raised in Honolulu, Meli lived in Silicon Valley for over ten years; there, she co-founded and contributed to numerous startups in the Bay Area and Honolulu, including Nirvino—a number-one-ranked wine app, an Apple Platform Top 100 app, and a Top Ten Lifestyles app (during its time).
James is a founding member of the Startup Paradise initiative helping to build a thriving startup community that nurtures collaboration and innovation in Hawaii. She is committed to establishing resources to grow talent and high growth to small business ideas.
In 2016, she was recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of five Women to Watch. In 2017, she was recognized again by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of eight Women Leaders Who Are Disrupting Entrepreneurship.
James is a graduate of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration.
MEET THE CHEFS
Michelle Karr-Ueoka, MW Restaurant
Born and raised in Honolulu, Michelle graduated from Punahou School and went on obtain a degree in Travel Industry Management the University of Hawaii. While in the program, Michelle’s passion for cooking was ignited after an externship at Alan Wong’s Honolulu. Pursuing her dream, Michelle furthered her training at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, during which she completed a stage at Daniel, and an externship at The French Laundry.
She rejoined Alan Wong’s where she spent six years on the savory side. Moving again, back to New York, she staged at Thomas Keller’s Per Se where she switched her culinary track from savory to pastry to become a successful pastry chef in Hawaii. In 2012, as a pastry chef, Michelle received the Rising Star Chef Award from StarChefs.com.
After working for highly lauded restaurants from New York to Honolulu, Michelle and her husband chef Wade Ueoka opened their first joint venture, MW Restaurant in October 2013. In February 2014, the James Beard Foundation nominated MW Restaurant for “Best New Restaurant”; additionally Michelle was also nominated for a James Beard award for “Outstanding Pastry Chef."
Keaka Lee, The Pig & The Lady
Chef de Cuisine Keaka Lee became interested in cooking when he was a young boy. His fondest cooking memory was when he would help his grandma gather ingredients from Chinatown and cook gau (Chinese steamed rice pudding) and jook (Chinese rice porridge) for Chinese New Year. "We would always be racing around before meter would expire," Lee said. "Cooking is an ever-changing art that I've grown to love and appreciate. My curiosity is always to learn with endless creativity."
Born and raised in the Waialae-Kahala area, Lee brings a vast amount of culinary experience to The Pig & The Lady. After graduating with a Culinary & Pastry Arts Degree at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Kapiolani Community College, he gained experience in Hawaii at 3660 on the Rise and Alan Wong's. He then moved to New York City to work at the award-winning Gramercy Tavern and Untitled & Studio Cafe as their sous chefs. Lee’s heart never left Hawaii, which brought him and his wife back. Lee's style of cuisine revolves around the community. "Cooking with a seasonal menu of elegant dishes with passion and rustic influences that showcase the restaurant's relationships with local farmers & purveyors is what I believe in," he said. Lee also won gold at the American Culinary Federation Nationals competition with Kapiolani Community College Student Team Hawaii in 2009.
Lyndsey Simone, Roy's Hawaii Kai
Executive Chef Lyndsey Simone has been working in restaurants since she was 14 years old and started her culinary career as a prep cook at Lillian’s in Saratoga Springs, New York. Raised in New York, she was influenced by her parents Italian/Irish background and the neighborhood where she grew up after being adopted from South Korea. Her fondest childhood memories include helping out in the kitchen with holiday parties – baking pies and cookies with mom and, learning how to make meatballs from her dad.
From a very young age, Lyndsey loved looking through cookbooks and watching PBS cooking shows. She made her first pasta dish at the age of 7, after watching an episode of Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito.
In her early 20’s, she decided that cooking was indeed her true passion and in 2009, came to Hawaii on a one-way ticket on vacation and decided to stay. The island lifestyle, friendly people, great weather, and being near the ocean reminded her of her travels to Sicily and the Aeolian Islands, not to mention all of the great produce and seafood that was abundant in the markets.
Starting as a line cook and working her way up to the sous chef position at Roy’s Hawaii Kai, she mastered all stations and aspects of kitchen management and was recently appointed executive chef at award-winning Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s flagship restaurant.
Sharing Roy’s belief in the importance of supporting local farmers, fishermen, the community and, also valuing the ohana (family) culture, is what motivates her to encourage and inspire her staff as she explores the next chapter of her culinary journey.
Jason “J” Schoonover, 12th Ave Grill
What we are doing here at 12th Ave Grill is ‘Modern American Cooking.’ We are creating simple food from scratch that reflects the wonderful diversity of American cuisine, including the local fare of Hawaii. We work with the freshest, highest quality ingredients available and use locally grown produce and meats as much as possible. Our menu is dynamic and influenced by the seasons.
Chef J has led his team to 20 Hale Aina Awards, most recently wining 2017 Gold for Best Restaurant Farm to Table. He has previously earned the Executive Sous Chef position in the kitchen of James Beard Award-winning Chef Roy Yamaguchi at the flagship "Roy's" on Oahu. He honed his culinary skills at international events cooking side by side with celebrated Chefs like Tetsuya Wakuda and Nobu Matsuhisa but credits his love for natural flavors to being raised in his mother and grandmother's kitchens.
Chef J consistently seeks new flavors and ingredients by visiting the islands' tropical growers and sampling the spectrum of new foods being cultivated now especially for chefs committed to the new movement of innovation with tropical and native sources locally. He takes the time to teach his skills of butchery and hand crafting sauces to the next generation of chefs by mentoring many culinary students in our kitchens and often teaching specialized classes like lamb butchery at the local culinary college.
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.
Kevin Lee, PAI Honolulu
Chef Kevin J. Lee is the executive chef and owner of PAI Honolulu. His passion for cooking started with his grandmother in San Francisco and from a young age dreamed of becoming a chef and owning his own restaurant. Chef Lee received his Bachelors in Food Science from the University of California, Davis and degree from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, where he graduated with honors. He then spent seven years of working in New York restaurants, including Tabla, an upscale Indian restaurant; Oceana, a seafood restaurant; and was the Sous Chef at Dovetail when they received their first, coveted Michelin Star.
Wanting to learn more, Chef Lee then traveled throughout Europe and staged in Hong Kong for six months at three-time Michelin Star and top 100 restaurants in the world - Bo Innovation. While on vacation in Hawaii to visit a former CIA classmate, Chef Lee was offered an opportunity to be the opening Chef de Cuisine at Prima in Kailua, where he was given the creative freedom to truly define his own style.
After a few years at Prima, Chef Lee decided it was time to open his own concept. After four long years of persistently searching for the perfect location, he found it in the lobby of beautiful Harbor Court. Here, Chef Lee’s philosophy of introducing quality, international flavors and ingredients, in a familiar way, is truly manifested through his dishes. Pai Honolulu received its name from the Olelo Hawai`i ho`o.pai, which means to excite, encourage, raise up, and rouse. Chef Lee’s vision is to create a welcoming restaurant, where guests can enjoy great food and drinks in a friendly atmosphere and truly demonstrates through his plates, innovation that excites not only your tastebuds, but also your heart. Every dish is intellectually and passionately created then carefully presented. We welcome you to join Kevin at PAI Honolulu and experience a cuisine that captures and reflects the life and experiences of his team.