JORDAN KANEALA KEAO – BIO
Jordan is the owner and executive chef for ‘Āina. He was born and raised in Hawai’i, growing up in Hilo on the Big Island. His origin story is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture and flavors, and forms the backbone of his cooking and the cornerstone of the inspiration for ‘Āina. He brings Hawaiian and Asian sensibilities to classic dishes, using local California seasonal products combined with specialty ingredients imported from Hawai’i. He is passionate about honoring the food and memories of Hawai’i he grew up with.
Jordan's first culinary experience were fishing, diving with his uncle and helping his grandmother and mother cook for friends and family. He attended the Culinary International Art Institute of San Diego, where he worked at Roy’s Hawai’i fusion as well as starting his own private chef business, before moving to the Bay Area to help open a few sushi restaurants. He gained exposure to French and modern cooking techniques while working with Roland Passot at the Michelin-starred French restaurant La Folie. The focus of hyper-seasonality combined with classic techniques and precision, refined his skills as a cook.
Jordan next spent a few years in the tech industry working with culinary programs at Google and AirBnB. At Google he oversaw the daily operations of the Hangout Café, feeding 1,200 employees per day, managing large-scale summer BBQ cook-outs, Iron Chef team building events, and customized cooking classes for staff and their children. At AirBnB he helped build out their internal system for managing food and kitchen programs (with a tight focus on safety) as well as staff development and expanding cooking education.
‘āina was launched as a brunch pop-up in San Francisco in 2014, and evolved to a full-service restaurant in 2016. The vision for ‘āina is to honor the heritage of both local Hawai’i as well as Hawaiian culture through food and hospitality, as expressed in the term “Aloha”.
Jordan was one of four finalists for the Best Chef of the Year Award in the Bay Area’s 2017 Saucy Awards, hosted by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. He was named by Zagat as one of the top under-the-radar chefs to watch in the Bay Area.
Jordan is grateful for the opportunity to have worked for many different chefs and his travels throughout Asia, gaining exposure to a wide range of skills, techniques and ingredients, and is excited to get back to his roots at 'āina.