John Memering, Executive Chef
John Memering is the Chef and Owner of Cactus, a Latin American bistro on the windward side of Oahu in Kailua. He directs the kitchen operations, recipe development for the kitchen along with creating many of the signature cocktails and input on the unique wine selections.
Cactus’ eclectic menu is a blend of John’s love of Latin cuisine and his use of seasonal products from Hawaii’s farms and ocean. He promotes sustainable agriculture whenever possible. “You have to give back at some point”, he says, “whether it be nature or society”.
John also incorporates many artisanal techniques into the Bistro’s menu, such as hand crafted salumi and sausages, house made cheeses and preserved, local seasonal fruits and vegetables just to name a few. His cuisine also reflects the Bistro’s diverse wine list as well as the unique farming seasons here in Hawaii.
Prior to opening Cactus in 2011, John spent five years directing the kitchen operations of Kalapawai Cafe and the historic Kalapawai Market on the edge of Kailua beach. In that time, he received many awards and accolades from local and national media as well as two prestigious Hale’ Aina awards.
He also spent time in Alan Wong’s King Street kitchen, Mid-Pacific Country Club and as a Chef Instructor for the University of Hawaii.
Before moving to Hawaii eight years ago with his wife, a fifth generation “daughter of Hawaii,” and his daughter now 10, John spent his formative years in Portland, Oregon, as well as Newport Beach, California. “Growing up in Newport during the late 70’s really reminds me of Kailua-town. It’s a wonderful, laid back beach community, I am thrilled to be raising my daughter here.”
John’s culinary career started in Portland, Oregon where he attended Western Culinary Institute and Portland State University. From there, John spent time working up and down the west coast. He attributes to his family and the many talented Chefs he had the opportunity to work under, for the forging of his love of cooking, fresh ingredients and especially where they came from.
While in Portland John saw the importance of local ingredients, agriculture and what regional cuisine could do for a community.
He was a Chef-Competitor on the Oregon Culinary Olympic Team which competed in Frankfurt, Germany. John is a longtime participating Chef for the International Pinot Noir Celebration and a pioneer in forging the relation between food and wine pairing. In fact, one of the oldest producers of French Burgundies, Domaine Drouhin, requested John to create a dinner for the release of their first Estate Oregon Pinot Noir, Domaine Drouhin Oregon.
John hopes to continue giving back to the community, making people happy and helping to create another generation of Culinary professionals.