What were you doing at 16? Dreaming, maybe. Likely not about creating “a museum based on arts, food, and fashion,” in your spare time. But you also probably didn’t start a baking business at 10 that gave you the opportunity to make pastries for The Oprah Winfrey Network.
However, there’s nothing traditional about the ingredients that makeup 16 year-old chef and creative entrepreneur Kai Kani. “I began helping in the kitchen when I was three years-old,” she says. By the time she was six, her mom, recognizing an early talent in her daughter, let her cook and use a knife on her own. “At 14,” she shares, “I began my pop up restaurant, KAI, which features a 12 to 16 course Progressive American Tasting Menu.” Coming from a “multi-cultural background” Kai says that she grew up cooking and eating foods from different cultures, an upbringing has influenced the way she cooks. She also has used her talent to support organizations like St. Vincent Meals on Wheels and The Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
And while she has plenty of normal teenage extracurriculars— tennis, drawing, hanging out with her friends and exploring Los Angeles, she’s got a pretty rad list of things she also wants to accomplish and equally impressive insight for how she wants to get there.
Read more with Kai and her inspiring work ethic below.
What is a habit or routine you swear by?
I swear by PREPARATION. It’s the most important thing to me, it helps me stay organized and not have to worry about little things when the main event comes.
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered?
People not understanding how much work that I put in to what I do.
Who are the people you consider you mentors or influences and why?
My mother and father. My dad is an business owner who began his business at 18.
What is the best piece of “real talk” advice you’ve received?
Believing in the Law of Attraction through Manifestation.
What’s your favorite life advice?
If you don't take the time to design and plan your life, you will have to settle for what life gives you.
What’s next? Do you have any five year goals?
Now, I’m focusing on some product development of my own, working on getting my cookbook published, as well as starting a high end streetwear clothing line. My five year goals, are to have a few successful restaurants, my clothing line, and to have a magazine focusing on art, culture, food, and fashion.
What does female empowerment mean to you?
Women have the authority to make our own decisions, make changes, and have a positive self image.
What keeps you going?
Determination and focus.