Oahu native Virginia Mahealani Keaulana-Kuloloia learned to love cooking at a young age. She served along with her siblings as a backup crew member for events catered by her father — an executive chef, party planner and Hawaiian musician.
“I was the only one of my siblings that enjoyed cooking and the hustle and bustle of the culinary world, so it stuck with me,” she said.
Virginia — known as Chef Nani — has worked in food service and hospitality since age 18, and she attended the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Nani has been married to Frank Kuloloia for 23 years, and she has three children: Shane, 22; Preston, 21; and Casey, 19.
Nani has now joined AlmaVia of San Francisco as the community’s new dining director.
“I am happy to be here, and I am excited to see the bright future we have ahead of us here at AlmaVia of San Francisco,” she said.
Serving Presidents, Forming Lasting Bonds
Since graduating from culinary school, Nani has gained vast experience in the field and has worked alongside some of the world’s best chefs. She has cooked for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, many professional sports teams and winners of the hit TV show “Top Chef,” among others. She also had the opportunity to audition for the TV show “Hell’s Kitchen” with Gordon Ramsey and made it to the second casting cycle.
But it was during her time with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Westin Hotel in Bellevue, Washington, that Nani gained her best experience.
“It was there that I learned what it really takes to become a chef,” she said. “I started as a line cook fresh out of culinary school and worked my way up to becoming a banquet chef cooking for banquets for more than 2,500 people in attendance in one sitting.”
An Interest in Senior Living
Nani became inspired to get involved in senior living as she participated in the aging process with her own parents and grandparents. Combining her observations about aging with her experience in the culinary field, Nani now strives to provide seniors with nutritious, heart-healthy, vibrantly colorful and delicious food.
“My philosophy on senior nutrition is ‘live well, be well,’” she said, adding that she works to incorporate ingredients that taste great while promoting health and well-being.
“Who says that food enjoyed by seniors needs to be bland and tasteless?” Nani asked. “Seniors have a very broad sense of creativity and love of color when it comes to food. I want to be able to provide that for them.”
We’re pleased to have Nani as part of the team here at AlmaVia of San Francisco.