Kai Kani is a 19-year-old chef. Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, at the tender age of 2, she would spend her afternoons watching the Food Network. By the age of 3 her mom had a new sous chef in the kitchen.
By the time Kai was 6, her mom would let her cook on her own,as well as use her first knife. Kai would constantly study the science behind cooking. After school, Kai would come home and watch cooking documentaries, read cookbooks, and test recipes. Kai became homeschooled in 2014 and continued to be for all of her high school years. Being homeschooled allowed Kai the opportunity to focus on her craft and build her brand starting in Los Angeles and eventually around the world.
Over the past 14 years Kai has tested her skills in the kitchen and crafted many dishes such as cabbage slowly cooked in coconut butter with smoked almond, wild spinach agnolotti with mascarpone, house made ricotta, and smoked brown butter, and kombu cured fluke with pear, lemongrass, and white soy.
Along with her innovative dishes, Kai has also proven her skills as a pastry chef. She started her first baking business at the age of 10 “Kai’s Kakery,” which led her to hosting private events for The Oprah Winfrey Network, Kyle Richards of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and LL Cool J to name a few.
Kai’s style of cooking is Modern American. The majority of her menus are Seafood and Vegetable driven. She focuses on using organically farmed and locally sourced ingredients. Along with 3 other pop ups Kai currently runs, in the beginning of 2018 she opened a 4 month Vegan Pop-Up on Melrose.
At 13, Kai entered at “Union,” a highly claimed Northern Italian Restaurant in Pasadena under the tutelage of Bruce Kalman.
She accompanied Bruce to New York City, as one of his sous chefs, when he asked her to cook with him at the James Beard House.
At the age of 14, Kai started her first pop up restaurant, “KAI,” which features a highly seasonal 8 to 15 course tasting menu . From the success of the first pop up, KAI launched “KAI Brunch,” “KAI Catering,” and “MERAKAI.
Kai has been apart of the 2016 Academy Awards Gift Bag. At 14, she was a featured professional chef on NBC’s “Food Fighters, and has been on “EXTRA.” In 2015, Kai was a guest chef on “The Talk,” where she did a cooking demonstration on 3 different dishes.
In 2017 Kai was featured as one of the 100 Boss Ladies across 10 categories on the Create Cultivate 100 list. She was a standout in the field of cooking. In the Summer of 2017, Kai received an award from the Mary Parker Foundation as a “Rising Star.”
Kai continues to run her successful brand in Los Angeles and New York, doing events for the high profile companies, clients and the public. You can follow Kai's culinary and personal journey through her Instagram @KaiKani.
With a few cookbooks in the works, product development, television shows, and much more Kai continues in her constant pursuit of building a lasting brand.