Cuisine & Community

Last Friday, at Enter the Cafe, Wu Yee’s Young Professional Network premiered its first event. It was an evening discussion exploring family, food and cultural identity. We were honored to have the following panelists share their stories of childhood influences on their culinary careers, and how diverse communities have shaped their cuisine:

Luis Villavelazquez, Former Executive Pastry Chef of ChinaLive

Luis Villavelazquez has been named one of the Bay Area’s most talented pastry chefs by San Francisco magazine and noted as one of San Francisco’s five top pastry chefs by 7x7 magazine. Luis’ love affair with the restaurant industry began at a young age. He grew up around his mother’s workplace, Sally’s restaurant, located in Potrero Hill, where fresh baked pastries were served daily. With experience in both savory and sweet sides of the kitchen, Luis brought inventive flavor combinations and beautiful presentations to the decadent dessert offerings at ChinaLive.

Kasem Saengsawang, Chef/Co-Owner of Farmhouse Kitchen

Chef Kasem “Pop” Saengsawang opened Farmhouse Kitchen with his wife and business partner, Iing Chatterjee, in 2015. Challenged to create a fun, contemporary food experience merged with the traditions of his childhood, he presents a daring interpretation of Northern Thai food at Farmhouse Kitchen, with locations in San Francisco, Oakland, and Portland. His passion for food can be attributed to his childhood experiences of taking daily trips to the local market with his grandmother in Loei, Thailand.

Nigel Jones, Chef/Co-owner of Kaya Jamaican Food + Rum Bar

Nigel Jones is a chef, restaurateur and entrepreneur committed to sharing the rich foods of his native Jamaica and the African diaspora, while creating sustainable opportunities for people of color. In partnership with Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group, Nigel is the co-owner/executive chef of Kaya, his first restaurant in San Francisco proper. He is also the chef/co-owner and general manager behind Oakland’s beloved Kingston 11, a Jamaican restaurant opened in 2013.

Thank you Chefs Luis, Kasem and Nigel for your insights on the many connections between food, family and community. Also, thank you to Enter the Cafe for hosting the event in your amazing space!


Wu Yee’s Young Professionals Network (YPN) is a growing team of volunteers that seeks to engage the broader community in Wu Yee’s mission. The YPN engages in a variety of outreach and events, from advocacy for early childhood education to fundraisers and hands-on volunteer activities. Any professionals committed to contributing their time and talents to support Wu Yee are welcome to join us. Please fill out this Volunteer Questionnaire and we will be in touch with future opportunities.