From Ultimate Fighter to Superstar Baker

Staff & Trainees
September 29, 2021
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After ten years as a mixed martial arts fighter, Paea was excited for a new type of job opportunity – one that was much different from what he’d been working inside the ring. It involved a different kind of boxing –– packaging scones!

As a Food Service Worker in Lanakila Kitchen, Paea spends most of his time helping produce our many baked goods and desserts. From measuring ingredients to following recipes, he’s there every step of the way to ensure the scones and pastries come out just right.

“Lanakila Kitchen is special because the people are nice,” Paea says. “I enjoy seeing customers like kupuna come in and order the scones that I prepare.”

He’s proud to be a part of a team that supports and empowers individuals with disabilities.  

“Paea has been a great addition to the team,” says Reid Yasunaga, Lanakila Kitchen’s Director of Food Service. “Once arriving to Bachelot, Paea quickly became a huge asset. From mixing to portioning to packing, Paea does it all.”

It’s thanks to hard-working bakery staff like Paea that Lanakila Kitchen’s desserts have been able to be distributed so widely. This past month, 7-Eleven began carrying our lilikoi peach, orange cranberry, and blueberry lemon scones at all of their locations across the islands. It’s the first time Lanakila Kitchen’s baked goods are reaching neighbor islands!

Paea is also one of the many Lanakila Kitchen employees who prepare the thousands of meals delivered to Lanakila Meals on Wheels seniors every week, as well as the many catering and bakery offerings found island-wide. The job experience provides the opportunity to learn everything from task-based skills within the kitchen alongside teamwork, communication, and perseverance.  

With a close-knit workplace offering support and guidance, individuals with disabilities can experience the pride of a good day’s work, a well-earned paycheck, and the chance to experience daily growth. We believe a job does more than ensure an income – it inspires a motivated mindset that transforms lives. It’s just one of the many ways to build independence.

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A social enterprise of Lanakila Pacific, Lanakila Kitchen provides job training and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the food service industry. With help from our supporters, hundreds have learned new skills that have opened pathways to achieving their personal and professional goals.

If you are interested in donating to support aspiring individuals like Paea, click
here.