Oishii LE (Research & Development)
Kahiki's R&D department is the center of all we do at Kahiki. It's where we brainstorm new ideas, create new dishes, develop new and different combinations of Asian food, and where we use your feedback to create convenient meals for you and your families. We work in a fun place so we gave our kitchen a fun name… the Chinatown Chowdown! We spend a lot of time there, so we've made it a fun place to be with music, a wide variety of delicious Asian spices, seasonings and sauces, and lots of yummy food … after all you can't be creative without having fun too. We've been told that each of us are a little Asian food "crazy". That's ok with us. We each have our own personal specialties and favorites, but together we make a great team and love creating new dishes for you, our Kahiki fans.
There are four of us that make up Kahiki's R&D team, here's a little more about each of us…
Janet Sprouse - Seeker of Happy Belly
Hello, I'm Janet Sprouse and I really love food. So much so that I've spent over 20 years working in the food industry. Most of that time has been with fast food restaurants, a pizza chain, and now with Kahiki frozen food. I'm a busy Mom too (I have two sons), so the convenience of frozen food is important to keep my family running on time. And you know how much teenage boys eat! My title here at Kahiki is the "Seeker of Happy Belly". I've always found that if your belly is happy, you are happy too. What makes my belly happiest… when I eat out at Asian restaurants, usually my favorite dish is Kung Pao Chicken. However, here at Kahiki, my favorite item is our Chicken Lo Mein. My boys love our Kahiki tempura chicken, so I always have to have a couple of those in the freezer at home.
When I'm not at work, I'm usually whipping up a batch of my famous chocolate chip cookies or trying something new off Pinterest. I also have a green thumb… I love gardening. That includes both flowers and vegetable, like zucchini which I bring in to the Chowdown to share with coworkers. My parents taught me to garden when I was growing up and it has stuck with me all these years, even while getting my master's degree in Food Science at Michigan State University.
Christina Mallow - Maestro of Umami
Hi, I'm Christina Mallow, a.k.a. the "Maestro of Umami!" What is a Maestro of Umami you might ask? Well, being a Maestro of Umami isn't easy… it's like conducting a symphony of flavors that have to work together to create the perfect combination. Challenging… Yes, but it's worth it when I find that perfect combination. When I'm not eating Asian food, I'm usually reading or learning more about it… which is why they call me a Maestro. I'm also being certified here at Kahiki as a Sensei of the Wok which means I am our culinary expert in a certain area. For me, that includes our Appetizers and Single Serve entrees, and also means I am an expert on other frozen products in those areas so I have to keep up with current trends … yes, that means eating more Asian food!
I came to Kahiki with six years of food safety management experience and a degree in Food Science from The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!). My favorite Kahiki item is our Pork Potstickers which is also what I usually order as an appetizer at restaurants. I have one son at home and he really loves our Crispy Tempura Chicken. My son likes helping me in the kitchen at home, so I bought him his own whisk and spatula which he likes to use making cookies, of course!
Wing Monge - Maestro of Kokumi
I'm Wing Monge and I've been with Kahiki now for 12 years. Asian food is close to my heart because I was born in Hong Kong and grew up in my family restaurant in California. Because we owned a restaurant, many of my happiest childhood memories come from the restaurant, making new things, and spending time with family and friends there. Working at Kahiki is very much like those restaurant days, but more creative. Here at Kahiki, I'm known as our "Maestro of Kokumi." I chose this name because Kokumi refers to the mysterious 6th taste that can be detected on your tongue, and means 'heartiness' in Japanese. I came up with the name for our Kitchen, "Chinatown Chowdown", because it literary means eating your way through Chinatown.
Even when I'm at home with my family I try to make our meals as healthy, delicious and authentic as I can with my nutrition degree from Cal Poly. This means I have to get a lot of the ingredients from Asian supermarkets since they aren't carried in most grocery stores. My favorite kind of Asian food is Singapore Noodles and someday I hope we bring this type of food to Kahiki. My favorite Kahiki product is our Yum Yum Stix, it reminds me of the little spring rolls we made in our restaurant back in California.
Gabby Mateen - Maestro of Aji
Hi, my name is Gabby Mateen and my role here at Kahiki is that of "Suiji Chef". Suiji is Japanese for Cooking and Culinary Arts which I studied at Johnson & Wales University.
My role on the team is to run the Chinatown Chowdown so we don't run out of key ingredients and so we are always prepared for the Maestro's as they work on developing new items. I also do a lot of research and running around the city to help keep the team up to date on the latest products and trends and to track down unique ingredients they need to perfect a recipe.
At home, I love to cook and invite my friends over to try my latest creations. Growing up at home, my parents taught me all about Korean and American cuisines which I guess really stuck with me since I'm pursuing a career in the food industry.
My favorite Kahiki item is our Toasted Sesame Chicken Yum Yum Stix and if you're ever in Columbus, be sure to check out Fukuryu Ramen, my favorite Asian restaurant.