Meet the

Team

that makes it happen

Our Team

When big dreams meet fierce determination, amazing things happen.

Gourmet Events Hawaii is comprised of a team of senior staff that together brings over 70 years of event management and catering experience to every event they produce. The team unites experts in every aspect of event management, from catering and menu planning, to staffing, to facilities and logistics, to vendor management, and marketing and communication. The unified vision of the entire Gourmet Events Hawaii staff is to produce exceptional events with style and taste that exceed client expectations.

Kathleen Lin-Hurtubise,  Founder & President
2016 Women Who Mean Business: Industry Leaders. Pacific Business News

An accomplished marathon runner, community builder, marketing strategist and event producer, Kathleen, better known as “Kat”, has a great appreciation for delicious food and excellent service. For many years prior to her work in the industry, Kat tried out the finest restaurants Hawaii had to offer in an effort to experience their culinary craft and to learn from the very best. In 2003, she combined her passion, work ethic and talents to found Gourmet Cooking Hawaii, which quickly evolved into Gourmet Events Hawaii, the full-service catering and event planning company of today.

One of Kat’s favorite activities is picnicking in different parks throughout the island with her husband and her boys. A coffee devotee, Kat is known for her signature drink: a Grande Starbucks coffee in a Venti cup, with an extra shot of espresso and a healthy portion of heavy whipping cream!

Susan Scrivner, Office Manager & Executive Assistant

Susan Scrivner brings her managerial and administrative experience from the medical and educational fields, in which she had key roles in laboratory management, medical research, and as a biologist. She has also held various lead roles through volunteering for her children’s schools. Her educational background includes bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology. The passion, determination, and diligence she applied in the medical industry, she now brings to GEH! Her organizational, communication, managerial, multi-tasking, and high attention to detail skills will propel us forward as she oversees our office operations, Front Desk services, internship program, and office expansions. Susan’s favorite pastimes are reading, traveling, cooking, hiking, and enjoying nature and the beach.

Denise Clark, General Manager

Denise has dedicated her career to the Tourism and Hospitality Industry and brings years of experience in product & business development, sales and marketing, operations planning & logistics, as well as having the keen ability to assess, enhance and improve the guest experience. Being an entrepreneur at heart Denise enjoys a challenge and creating opportunities and is very excited to help GEH continue to develop and grow.

Denise loves anything that keeps her active outdoors, especially in the water. She also enjoys travel, new cultures through food & wine and time with family and friends.

ADMINISTRATION

Josie Graham,  Accounting Manager

Josie Graham brings 15 years of bookkeeping and accounting experience to the GEH team. She utilizes her excellent organizational skills and accounting expertise in her responsibilities for accounts receivable and payable, payroll, financial reports, and more, in support of our operations. We appreciate and enjoy her pleasant, inspirational, can-do approach!

In her free time, Josie loves to create spoken word poetry, expressing feelings and expressions with rhythm and rhyme. She also enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends.

CORPORATE EVENT PRODUCTION/WEDDINGS BY GEH

Gail Nipitnorasate, Head of Event Production

Gail brings almost 6 years of event planning, catering and restaurant experience to GEH. Upon completing her degree in Nutritional Science from the University of California, Berkeley, she began with successful execution of fundraisers and galas. She then expanded to catering and restaurant experience in both seated dinners and buffets for corporate events, private parties, conferences and weddings, with responsibilities ranging from pastry and prep cook, server, coordinator to oversight of inventory, rentals, equipment and staffing.

Along with her passion for food and restaurant trends, Gail loves baking, traveling, running, and zumba.

Kittie Wu, Event Production Specialist

Kittie graduated with a degree in Travel Industry Management (TIM) with an emphasis in Hospitality Management at University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her past experience in both the restaurant business and employee relations provided the perfect combination of skills to excel in a busy catering and event-production office.

Kittie loves traveling and eating…especially trying new eateries wherever she roams. Kittie’s sincere wish is that someone in Hawaii would open up an “all-you-can-eat dessert buffet” like one she visited in Taiwan. She is also an identical twin!

Jamiee Maeda, Event Production & Wedding Specialist

Jamiee Maeda is a graduate from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a degree in American Studies. Her previous work experience includes event coordination with a focus on weddings, as well as administrative and instructional duties for the performing arts and dance company at Kamehameha Schools. Her organizational skills, diligence in coordinating office matters, and her outstanding support to the team has been invaluable to our continued growth and success.

Kirsten Carpenter Brenner, Event Production Specialist

Kirsten brings hospitality experience as a server and trainer in her position as staffing coordinator. Her role includes coordinating schedules for our many events across the island, recruiting for and leading our orientation sessions, and spearheading our weekly e-newsletter to our staff. She joined GEH in 2015 and is currently pursuing her bachelor’s of administration in communications, with a focus on public relations and public speaking.

In her spare time, Kirsten has been an avid volunteer with Mangoes at Moana, the MDA Soiree, and Special Olympic Games. Her passion for food began in the kitchen with her grandmother, because food is the “best way to bring people together. A recipe has not love and soul until you add it in, and through taste you can spread a little happiness!” With an adventurous spirit and love of the outdoors, Kirsten enjoys the beauty of hiking trails on the weekends and aspires to travel internationally.

STAFFING BY GEH – OPERATIONS AND STAFFING SUPPORT

Kawika Burdine, Head of Staffing

As our Head of Staffing, Kawika oversees event staff, scheduling at the Hawaii Convention Center, and implementing operational solutions. His past work experience managing a restaurant, including its off-site catering, provided him with excellent management experience and a comprehensive awareness of all the details involved in top-notch event execution.

Born and raised in CA, Kawika was thrilled to move back to Hawaii and connect with his family’s Hawaiian roots. A surfer and beach volleyball player, Kawika loves that Hawaii is a destination which inspires visitors from all over the world.

Chris Nicolas, Staff Trainer

A firm believer in the nobility of service with a lifelong interest in food and world cultures, Chris brings over 20 years of hospitality experience to his role of coaching service professionals and developing future leaders of GEH. He has supervised and trained staff in a variety of corporate settings including hotels, banquets, and catering as well as managed restaurants specializing in cuisine ranging from German to American Regional, Mediterranean to French Polynesian.

An accomplished musician, Chris enjoys singing and playing guitar, and has performed professionally in ensemble and as a soloist. He has produced several recordings of guitar music in classical, slack-key, and swing jazz styles and plans next a CD of Japanese anime film scores. He also loves exploring the island in search of new ethnic restaurants and hidden beach gems.

Alysha Toguchi, Master Scheduler

Alysha comes to GEH with over 7 years of experience in exceptional customer service and sales, including managerial responsibilities supervising staff. As our master scheduler, she oversees our scheduling team to ensure that all of our events are 100% staffed. She is also our point-of-contact with our hospitality professionals for any scheduling questions and changes. Her love for the hospitality industry and appreciation for our hospitality professionals has exponentially grown through working with our staff in creating successful teams for each event. For the past 9 years, Alysha has also been a valued member of the Hawaii Army National Guard. In her spare time, she enjoys reading a good book or hiking in the outdoors!

Matt Nagata, Hawai‘i Convention Center Office Manager & Scheduler

Matt brings his passion for the hospitality industry to GEH, along with his prior destination management experience coordinating operational details, including corporate travel and incentive trips, and event management experience while being a UH Manoa student. His communication and relationship building skills with staff, clients, vendors, and partners, as well as excellent attention to detail, have led him through various roles at GEH, culminating into the Hawai‘i Convention Center Office Manager and Scheduler role. He is the point of contact for staffing needs and scheduling logistics for our Hawai‘i Convention Center shifts. In keeping to his quick pace and energy, Matt loves hiking and the outdoors.

Jenny Silao, Scheduler

Pursuing her bachelor’s degree in marketing and management, Jenny began her career at GEH as an intern in January 2017. She began learning and growing with the Staffing team, under Kawika’s mentorship. Upon completion of her Spring internship, she joined the team as a part-time scheduler. Jenny brings 7+ years of retail management experience. As an assistant manager, she managed the highest-volume store on the island and in the brand’s region. Her proven dependability allowed her to additionally manage different store locations. Through this experience, she has learned to work well in our fast-paced environment, embracing and driving change with her organizational skills. In her free time, Jenny likes to do taekwondo. She is presently a red belt and working toward receiving her black stripes to become a first degree black belt (One belt color below black–so close!). In addition to her competitive side, Jenny also enjoys doing sunrise hikes and trying new places to eat.

Rodney Kahao, Warehouse Manager
Rodney not only manages the warehouse and equipment inventory, he also manages the care of the office, making sure everything is well-kept. Most of his time is spent working events, where he has also grown in a lead role. He has a tremendous work ethic and level of quality in all that he does, in both events and in the office. In his spare time, he volunteers his time in creating and teaching a life skills course at the Institute for Human Services, and he facilitates learning activities at Ala Wai Elementary School and Kama’aina Kids. He enjoys participating in triathlons, martial arts, swimming, hiking, cooking and baking. Our office team has enjoyed his home-made peanut butter brownies and decorated cakes with fondant frosting from scratch!
Dean Masui, Event Management

Dean assists with warehouse duties, such as loading and unloading of equipment before and after events. He also provides support to our event producers in various preparations. His time in the field, especially in managing scullery, and in prep and post event activities has contributed greatly to the GEH team! When not at events or at the office, you can find Dean enjoying the outdoors with his favorite hobby of fishing.

HUMAN RESOURCES/RECRUITMENT

Sandra Nakao, HR Manager

Sandra comes to GEH as a human resources leader with over 10 years’ experience in small to mid-sized companies. Upon completing her degree in Business Management with a minor in Psychology from Whitworth University, she quickly discovered her passion for employee development, recognition and retention initiatives, employee wellness programs, organizational processes and community service.

Anastacia “‘Ana” Madamba, Recruitment Administrator
Ana comes from a corporate background where she was an executive assistant for high-level executives for 15 years before transitioning to the recruitment and staffing industry three years ago. Expertly adept in Microsoft Office platforms and exceptionally organized, Ana holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Argosy University
In her free time, Ana enjoys baking and spending time with her husband and twins.
Gretchen Gamalog, HR Administrative Assistant

Gretchen recently earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. With a growing interest in Human Resources, she started at Gourmet Events Hawaii as an HR intern in December 2016 and later joined the HR team as the full-time HR Administrative Assistant in May 2017. During her collegiate career, Gretchen served as the Spring 2017 Director of Fundraising for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Aloha Chapter and was a member of Psi Chi: the International Honor Society in Psychology. Gretchen brings her excellent attention to detail, amazing diligence, and customer service background to her role as HR Administrative Assistant. In her spare time, she likes to cook, bake, find new places to eat, read books, hang out with her friends and spend time with her dogs.

EXECUTIVE CONSULTANT TEAM

Harriet Kirihara, HR Counsel

A veteran in the Human Resources arena, Harriet’s current focus has been in developing programs and strategies for employee development, leadership development and organizational development. She practices the “best places to work” philosophy for employee engagement, training, supervisory coaching and organizational alignment.

Harriet enjoys international travel and experiencing diverse cultures and cuisines. Recently, she has been cooking Tuscan style and an Icelandic signature dessert. To further memorialize a sense of place, she paints scenes, using oil on canvas, to capture impressions from her travels.

Iqbal Ashraf, Growth Partner

Iqbal Ashraf is the Growth Partner for GEH. As an extended team member, he assists in formulating annual/quarterly goals, aligning our key projects to these goals, and helping to execute these projects faster. He is a cofounder of www.guild.im, which acts as our gateway to outside expertise. In the past, he managed ProAccounting Hawaii, the top outsourced accounting firm in Hawaii. Prior to that, he was a finance leader at General Electric.

Bill Fotsch, Business Coach

The “Open-Book Management Coach,” Bill Fotsch has helped more than 400 companies boost employee engagement and increase business results over the past 25 years.

Bill has worked with industry majors such as Southwest Airlines, BHP-Billiton, Harley-Davidson, Roadway Express, CarlsonWagonlit Travel, Scottish Hydro Electric, and Capital One. He has also coached many small to medium-sized privately-owned businesses. As Head Coach at Great Game of Business, he spent over two decades applying open-book management principles to help companies deliver results through a highly motivated staff. In the initial years of his career, Bill gained experience in management, marketing, and consulting at organizations such as Briggs & Stratton, Bain & Company, Case International and Litton Industrial Automation. Today, as Founder and President of Open-Book Coaching, Bill’s mission is to inspire great business performance and wealth creation through the principles of open-book management.

Author or co-author of three online articles published by Harvard Business Review, Bill holds a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Marquette University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he graduated as a Baker Scholar. In the past, Bill has presented in varied speaking roles at numerous functions, including serving as a guest lecturer at University of Chicago Business School. In addition, he conducts webinar presentations on a regular basis. Since the summer of 2015, he has written a biweekly article on the Forbes website, in partnership with John Case.

Frank Haas, Marketing Consultant

Frank Haas is a marketing and sales consultant to GEH. He plays an active role in elevating GEH’s ability to communicate and share about its extraordinary services. He has a business consultancy, Marketing Management, Inc., based in Honolulu, and his career is highlighted by executive positions in higher education, tourism and hospitality, advertising, quick service restaurants and high technology. Frank has been the recipient of many marketing awards including the Wayne Lemberg Award granted by the American Marketing Association, AMA Hawai‘i Marketer of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award, the American Advertising Foundation Silver Medal, Pizza Hut Franchise Marketer of the Year, Hawai‘i’s 100 Top Technology Leaders, and Honolulu Ad Federation “Ad Man of the Year.” Frank has served on many Hawai‘i non-profit boards and resides in Kailua with his wife Susan.

AFFILIATIONS

Hawaii Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber works on behalf of members and the entire business community to improve the state’s economic climate and help businesses thrive.

Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association (HLTA)
HLTA is a statewide trade association of lodging properties, management firms, owners, suppliers, and other related firms and individuals, who work together to provide education and advocacy to the hospitality industry.

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau
HVCB is a nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to promote our islands to travelers throughout North America.

Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
HSMAI provides hotel professionals and their partners with tools, insights, and expertise to fuel sales, inspire marketing, and optimize revenue.

Meeting Professionals International (MPI)
Meeting Professionals International, the premier global association community for meeting and event professionals, believes in the unequalled power of events and human connections to advance organizational objectives.

Oahu Wedding Association
Oahu Wedding Association is comprised of a network of industry experts in wedding planning and coordination whose purpose is to provide exceptional talent and services to wedding events in Hawaii.

Rotary Club of Honolulu
As Honolulu’s premier service organization, The Rotary Club of Honolulu is comprised of some of the region’s most prominent community leaders — men and women with diverse backgrounds in business, professions, religions, civic and non-profit organizations.

ACCOLADES

Best Caterers in Honolulu       Best Of Honolulu 2015  Best Of Honolulu 2014  Best Of Honolulu 2013   Best Place to Work Best Place to Work   Best Place to Work 2014 Pick - Wedding Wire   2013 Pick - Wedding Wire   2012 Pick - Wedding Wire Pacific Business News' Fastest 50Pacific Business News Hawaii's 50 Fastest Growing Companies 2017

Pacific Business News 2016 Best In Small Business

Hawaii’s “Fastest 50” 2017, Pacific Business News
Hawaii’s “Fastest 50” 2015, Pacific Business News
Hawaii’s “Fastest 50” 2014, Pacific Business News
Hawaii’s “Fastest 50” 2013, Pacific Business News
Hawaii’s “Fastest 50” 2012, Pacific Business News
Couple’s Choice 2015, Wedding Wire

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We loved producing this plated dinner event last night. Thank you to the always welcoming hosts Iolani Palace. ... See MoreSee Less

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Today is #TuesdayBoozeDay! Take a look at the bar set up we did at the Nordstrom grand opening. ... See MoreSee Less

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