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Slow Food O‘ahu Board of Directors

The Slow Food movement is dedicated to promoting good, clean, and fair food for all. The members of the Slow Food International Board are passionate advocates and experienced leaders in the fields of food, agriculture, and sustainability.

Together, these board members work to ensure that the Slow Food movement continues to make a positive impact on our local food system. Their diverse backgrounds and experiences provide a strong foundation for promoting good, clean, and fair food for all.

Laurie Carlson

I arrived in Hawaiʻi at the age of fifteen, finishing high school in Honolulu. My early jobs included lifeguarding during my teenage years and later managing a pioneering natural foods cooperative. While at Kōkua Co-op, I worked with a diverse group of co-op leaders to pass a bundle of state laws that included incorporation for both consumer and housing co-ops. Following completion of my University of Hawaiʻi undergraduate degree and work at the co-op, I moved to the east coast for graduate school. I received a degree in public and private management at what was then a bit of an alternative business school: the Yale School of Organization & Management. I returned to Hawaiʻi after a ten-month stint in Alaska, where I worked for a native-owned general store with 23 branches in remote bush locations. Alaska Commercial sold everything from salad bars to snow boots to frozen caribou meat to all-terrain vehicles. Upon return, I founded an alternative weekly newspaper, Honolulu Weekly, which I managed for more than 20 years. During that time, I was involved in founding the first Hawaiʻi Slow Food chapter, which was state-wide initially. I used my newspaper as a tool to highlight and support local food and sustainability issues. We produced annual issues on sustainability and held “green markets” in the heart of downtown Honolulu at a time when sustainability was not quite the buzz word it is now.

I am now retired from day-to-day work but continue to support food and agriculture education in a number of ways. I am a member of the Hawaiʻi Tropical Fruit Growers' Association and a graduate of UH’s College of Tropical Agriculture’s master gardener program. Through Slow Food Oʻahu, I work with community members to create events that share knowledge about our islands' traditional and local foods.

Chris Fujimoto

Chris Fujimoto

I was born and raised on the east side of Oʻahu in Kāneʻohe. My food influences were heavily Hawaiian and Japanese cuisine, and that culinary focus remains for me today. I now reside in Mōʻiliʻili and love finding new foods, dishes, and cuisines that town has to offer. 

I grew up curious about how food was made. Going to restaurants, family luau, home meals, etc., I always pondered how each dish was prepared. During middle school and high school, I experimented in the kitchen and ended up interested in becoming a chef.

I went to culinary school and received my AS in pastry and culinary arts, along with an advanced professional certification in culinary management and a certification in sustainability. Learning how to make the foods I grew up eating was rewarding and has allowed me to share my passion for food with others. Today, rather than working in a kitchen, I work toward creating food access, teaching others where our food comes from, and creating space to allow for local produce to come first in our homes rather than imported goods. 

I appreciate the concept of “slow food” over “fast food.” So many people in Hawai’i suffer from health issues, especially native Hawaiians. Much of this stems back to what foods are eaten on a daily basis and the fact that so often it’s not foods that are nutritious for us. Finding a way to offer information to communities to try to eat local and eat better is forefront for me. My lifelong goal is to provide education through food, and Slow Food Oʻahu is a perfect opportunity to share my aligned passions with many others! 

Monica Lee

I was born in Hilo but really grew up on Oʻahu, and then went to the mainland for college at UCLA. I became interested in food when I started working for an event company in Los Angeles--my first job out of college--and was exposed to the city's diverse culinary scene.

These days, I would say that I love food: eating food, talking about food, learning about food, looking at food, and taking pictures of food. So many of the values of the Slow Food movement resonate with me, from educating about and preserving culinary traditions and goods, to supporting sustainable food systems towards accessibility and food security. Over the past two decades on the continent, I lived in New York and Chicago, and then landed in San Diego. I joined Slow Food Urban San Diego in 2012 and served in several positions on its board. In that role, I helped to launch the Good Food Community Fair and Slow Sips happy hour events. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2015, I helped reinvigorate that Slow Food chapter. I returned home to Oʻahu during the pandemic and joined Slow Food Oʻahu because I am interested in exploring and learning more about the unique food community of Hawaiʻi.

Professionally, I am presently Operations Manager at Hawai‘i Contemporary. As a volunteer, in addition to my work with Slow Food Oʻahu, I volunteer at the Honolulu Museum of Art, Kumu Kahua Theatre, Waikiki Health, and Project Genki Ala Wai, and serve on the board of Asian Pacific American Friends of the Theater. When I have a chance I pursue my other passion, travel!

Bob Lew

I did not take an interest in food until retirement. On reflection, I can see that my childhood years in Germany, New York, and Honolulu left me with a taste and a yearning for the native cuisines of several distinct cultures.

In Germany I was exposed to what Americans are only now discovering as artisan bread. New York City was teeming with Jewish delis, and Honolulu has always had Asian-influenced food. All of these somehow seemed much more “normal” than the “standard American diet” (SAD).

With retirement, I had time to read, and books by Marion Nestle, Sandor Katz, and Michael Polan helped me to think differently about food and diet. Attending gatherings such as the Vegan of Society Hawaiʻi and Slow Food Olympia introduced me to like-minded people and furthered my culinary curiosity. These days, I’m most interested in artisan bread, fermented foods, raw foods, vegan cuisines, and farmers markets.

I enjoy participating in the activities and initiatives of Slow Food Oʻahu. I joined the board to “do my part” to keep things going. With my tech background, I bring a different set of skills to the board.

Judy Mohr Peterson

As a child, my parents always had a large garden and my siblings and I were “recruited” to help out. All summer we ate only vegetables from our garden. We canned, froze, or pickled everything we didn’t consume; all our jams and jellies were homemade. I didn’t know that zucchinis could be small until well into adulthood when I wondered what that puny veggie was at the grocery store. Ours were always picked when they were giant! My first “job” was being paid a penny for every green caterpillar I killed, or five cents for a white butterfly. When we moved from Minnesota to north of Seattle, my parents added a wide variety of fruit trees to the yard, so cider making joined our list of gardening related social/community activities. We also raised a few sheep.

At the time, I did not know we grew the garden for economic reasons, but regardless of the why, my appreciation for growing and eating fresh vegetables is deeply ingrained.

In college, I studied cultural anthropology with a focus on Mexico. My studies exposed me to the brutal reality of monocrops’ impact on seed diversity--from corn to chocolate, chiles and potatoes--threatening indigenous people’s ability to survive. This, coupled with my childhood experience, has nurtured a desire to participate with organizations such as Slow Food as a means to help address food-related social justice issues.

My current work is mostly focused on health administration in my role as the Director of Medicaid in Hawaiʻi. I am aware of and motivated by increasing evidence of a strong connection between access to healthy, fresh food and physical health. I am proud that our local Medicaid program has asked for permission from the federal government to help pay for a broad range of “nutritional supports.” Slow Food’s values of supporting local sustainable agriculture and use of local foods aligns with my interest in community health and well-being.

I enjoy Slow Food events that provide opportunities to learn about the many farm-to-table, food production opportunities on our island, particularly those that draw on Native Hawaiian roots. I would like to build and support these efforts however I can, including with state policy makers.

Marilyne Pinto

Marilyne Pinto

I grew up in Lausanne, Switzerland, but my ancestral roots are in Portugal. My culinary journey began amidst my childhood summers there, filled with lively BBQ parties. I loved preparing meals featuring classics such as cod croquettes, grilled sardines, and pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tarts).

My passion for food grew during travels with my father, an underwater diving photographer, which took us to some of the most remote places on earth. We explored ancient spice markets in Egypt and cooked with aunties in rustic kitchens in Sulawesi. Through these experiences, I discovered the magic of global flavors.

Surfing is another of my life passions. To deepen my culinary knowledge and keep surfing, I moved to Hawai’i to pursue a Pastry Arts degree at Kapiolani Community College. I came to Hawai’i especially to learn about Asian cuisine, and I was overjoyed by the beautiful diversity of Asian dishes I could eat and learn about. With graduation on the horizon, I am hoping to open a Portuguese bakery on Oʻahu, bringing my heritage to the local community.

My connection with Slow Food Oʻahu began with volunteering at local events such as the annual banana festival. Participating in workshops, I found a community that shares my passion for good, clean, and fair food. Now, as a member of the Slow Food Oʻahu board, I feel honored to contribute to a future where food and sustainability intersect, and am eager to make a meaningful impact in the local food community.

Maria Tucker

My life began in Malibu, California. It was the 1960s and while many were turning to the ease of canned and processed foods, my parents were obsessed with finding farms and growers for fresh fruits and vegetables. We traveled a lot, exploring the world’s foods. To this day, I head to Mazatlán annually to enjoy the region’s incredible organic and artisanal produce.

My focus shifted as I entered college, from living-to-eat to eating-to-live. I got my degree in Restaurant, Food and Culinary Management while owning and operating a farm and growing organically 500 fruit trees plus vegetables.

My hospitality career took me to the Hyatt Maui, Hilton Waikoloa, Mandarin Oriental, Aulani and many small restaurants. I returned to San Diego, CA in 1999 and found the Slow Food San Diego/Baja chapter. I became Membership Chairman.

Now permanently in Hawaiʻi, I have been a restaurant consultant specializing in sanitation and staff-training, and helped to expand the Oahu Food Hub. More recently, I was chef manager of NSA Hawaii. I have certifications from FSPCA, USDA, Food Safety Manager, and ServSafe.

As I am always interested in quality food and nutrition, I still travel the world, attending cooking schools and the Natural Food and Products Expo.

Jhana Young

From an early age, the ocean has been an inspiration for me, and an engagement--from surfing to canoe paddling to fishing. I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, and am the Sustainable Seafood Manager at Conservation Internationalʻs Hawaiʻi Program, leading efforts that support and strengthen local and responsible seafood initiatives. These days, I enjoy surfing, hunting, fishing, and cooking all kinds of invasive species--whether it be wild pigs and deer, or taʻape. I am a graduate of Punahou School and the University of Portland’s Pamplin School of Business in Marketing and Sustainability.