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In order to adapt to changing times, we must be willing to see in new ways. 

In March of 2020, like so many other business owners, Kat Lin-Hurtubise, owner of the hospitality company Gourmet Events Hawaii, faced unprecedented circumstances. As the world headed into 2020, the pandemic severely affected the hospitality industry, canceling events daily. Prospects of businesses going into a 100% shutdown approached rapidly. As the coming month’s jobs fell away, Kat took action.

“We had zero events to organize and execute,” Kat says about Spring of 2020. She decided to bring a group of five people together, some internal staff members, some former employees now located on the mainland, and some people who had not been a part of Gourmet Events, to a big brainstorming session. Everyone tossed ideas around and entered a creative mindset. Pulling from each person’s strengths, the team came up with a new concept: a meal subscription service called Kau Kau Box. This idea emerged as a way to sustain the business through the pandemic while helping the Oahu community to safely access good, healthy food. 

Having never done a food subscription service before, the team clarified their purpose, and from there the resources appeared. The necessary people came together. “We found someone who could build the website for us,” says Kat. “Through him, we connected to a larger company and learned how to do subscriptions. By the beginning of April, the website launched and subscriptions began to come in.”

The new company took a steep climb and by May 2020 they had over 300 subscriptions for food boxes. Especially during the height of the pandemic restrictions, this service became an essential part of some familys’ food plans. They could access delicious, chef-prepared meals delivered to their doorstep knowing that Kau Kau Box had taken all safety measures in the preparation, handling, and delivery of the food. With each box providing anywhere from eight to twelve meals, families could have a good supply of food for the week, reducing the need to go out and grocery shop. 

One of the beautiful things about Kau Kau Box is the possibility to collaborate with talented chefs of Hawai’i. Chef Thomas Naylor, the founder of Ke Nui Kitchen, currently serves as lead chef for Kau Kau Box. He combines locally sourced gourmet ingredients in a fusion of delightful dishes with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. 

“One of the biggest joys is the collaborative process, and seeing everyone pull together from their strengths,” says Kat. She also shares the biggest surprise in this experience: the opportunity for Kau Kau Box to thrive post-pandemic. Now that the pandemic restrictions are easing and people can more easily gather and go out, Kau Kau Box is evolving from a pandemic-driven service to a meal service for busy people, or anyone who wants to enjoy a “home-cooked” gourmet meal without the elaborate cooking process. Though meal subscription boxes exist on the mainland, Kau Kau Box is the first of its kind in Hawai’i. 

“This is a great opportunity to offer people the convenience of locally sourced, home-delivered meals,” asserts Kat, with a palpable enthusiasm for creating businesses that make a difference. “Being in a creative space and helping people have lovely experiences is my passion.”  

Kau Kau Box continues to expand post-pandemic, seeking to partner with someone knowledgable who can further subscription services for the food boxes. In the future, we might even start to see Kau Kau Box extend its services to the mainland, taking Hawai’i flavors abroad, perhaps including freezer-shipped food. “We aim to bring fresh produce and prepared foods to families, support local businesses, keep hospitality professionals working, and help the local community stay healthy,” says Kat.

To learn more about Kau Kau look here: https://kaukauboxnow.com/

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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)