Rohani Foulkes hails from Australia, where she grew up in the small seaside town of Cairns, best known as the place where the rainforest meets the sea, and famous as the launch pad to the Great Barrier Reef.
Her passion for food extends deep into her childhood. With an indigenous Torres Strait Island heritage, her love of food was nurtured with the smell of frying belacan (Malaysian Shrimp paste) from the family kitchen, hand pressed coconut milk on the back porch and weekly trips to the coastal towns local Farmers Market.
Rohani began her career in food at a young age with a trade apprenticeship in culinary arts. She went on to work as a professional chef for 10+ years in restaurants hotels and island resorts along the East Coast of Australia. Later, she coupled her love of food with teaching and went on to acquire a Bachelor’s degree in Education: Design Technology & Vocational Arts at the University of Sydney (USYD).
After numerous years working as a high school teacher in schools throughout Sydney, Rohani continued her education by acquiring a Master's Degree in International Education and Policy Development (USYD), which led to a position with the United Nations Education Outreach division in New York.
Rohani met her husband, Michigan-born and raised, during a snowball fight on the streets of Williamsburg, NY. Parents to a teenage son and toddler daughter, they settled together in Michigan to raise their family and pursue their vocations, and upon arrival Rohani volunteered with Share Our Strength's - Cooking Matters Program through Detroit’s Gleaners Community Food Bank. Soon after, she acquired a Full-Time position in the Food Bank’s Programs Department working in community outreach, nutrition education and programming, a position she held up until recently.
Rohani has a deep passion for and commitment to honest wholesome food for all. Her vocational life has manifested her pursuit of this notion for all in many ways throughout her career. Throughout her years in culinary arts and community programming, she has developed a deep desire for and dedication to understanding growing practices, local small scale food and farming movements for community nutrition. In fact, most recently she maintained her own 10 acre farm located just outside of Ann Arbor, MI.
Kiki Louya was born and raised in Rosedale Park, a historic community on Detroit’s West Side. The eldest of four children born into Congolese and Southern American tradition, food played an important role in her upbringing. She saw it unify cultures through shared experience, and it formed a connecting thread through her most cherished childhood memories, from frying plaintain with her father to eating fresh baguettes in Paris. Unfortunately, as Kiki grew older and the scale tipped past the 200lbs mark, her relationship with food began to turn sour. That is, until she became hungry for a change.
In 2010, while her culinary journey began nearly 15 years prior, Kiki found that she had learned little about food from a nutritional perspective along the way. What was she really putting in her body? Was it healthy for her—and what in the world did healthy really mean?
Since then, Kiki has lost 100 pounds, competed in two half-marathons, and completely overhauled not only her diet, but the way she views food in general.
Through volunteering at a local farm stand in Brooklyn and later working for several famed restauranteurs in Chicago including Chris Pandel (the Bristol, Balena) and James Beard Award winning chef Paul Kahan (Blackbird, avec), Kiki learned that food is as much about flavor as it is about process.
She also learned that, unfortunately, with our food system as it is structured today, access to “real food”—no artificial ingredients; just good, wholesome, honest products—is a luxury most American’s cannot afford, which is why she has dedicated her life to providing a simple, healthier way for people to shop. She is also starting with the community she cares about most—her hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
A graduate of The University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts (Chicago), Kiki has worked as a bartender, barista, savory cook, baker, and banquet server. She also spent several years as a non-profit event planner, and has helped raise over $5 million to date in funding for non-profits across the country including Vista Maria, The New York Public Library and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
In her free-time, Kiki enjoys hiking, camping, bike riding and, of course, running. In Fall 2016, she is competing in what she hopes will be the first of many full marathon races to come.