Step into a world where culinary expertise meets community connection as two passionate chefs, Michael Kitano and Remrick Clemente, embark on a journey that started at a Chef Works-hosted ‘Table 1807’ mixer. What began as a road trip from LA to San Diego turned into the development of an exciting Asian-American fusion pop-up experience. This is a story of flavors, friendship, and possibility.
“When I met Remrick down in San Diego, I told him about what I do, and that started the idea for this collaboration,” said Kitano, a 15+ year culinary professional and self-taught pit master. “His ideas plus my ideas — it works. Asian cuisine, you can fuse that with pretty much anything.”
“We were the only chefs [at the mixer] from LA at that time,” said Clemente. “About three months ago, we decided we really wanted to do our own thing, where we could showcase and create our best dishes by having lots of fun.”
Darko x Hapa
The collaboration is called “Darko x Hapa,” named in part after the eponymous early-aughts sci-fi thriller Donnie Darko and “hapa,” which means “mixed,” a nod to Chef Kitano’s half-Japanese, half-Caucasian daughters. With an emphasis on Filipino cuisine, current items include a “HAPABURGER,” marinated with ginger, garlic chives, and other seasonings, and a hand-crafted brisket sandwich with Ube bread, topped off with Kitano’s award-winning sauce.
“I was taught by an eight-year experienced saucier, that’s why my sauces are pretty much on point” said Kitano. “I didn’t speak French and the saucier didn’t speak English, so the focus was really on basic techniques, watching, and getting hands-on training.”
Table 1807: Where it all began
Heading to San Diego from Los Angeles for a happy hour often involves traffic, but that’s how committed these chefs were to building real-life connections — thanks to the online Table 1807 community Chef Works created, both Kitano and Clemente knew the travels would be worth it.
“The quality of the chef coats is really flexible, and I’ve been using their coats since I started, 14 years ago,” he said. “ [And] when I joined Table 1807, I really got to build more connections with other chefs from other restaurants.”
Table 1807 was originally started in the summer of 2021 as an online Facebook community for people working in the culinary and hospitality space. It now has nearly 5,500 members, and has connected diverse individuals in the culinary and hospitality industries through hosted social mixers in San Diego, Los Angeles, and New York. Better still, there’s more to come in 2024 and beyond as Chef Works plans to continue to nurture the community with engaging content, resources, and support.
“We’ve met great [chefs] through [these] connections, and that also leads to clients, so it’s important for us to stay connected,” Clemente said.
For Kitano, joining a community of other chefs is also one of the major selling points of Table 1807. “Might as well get into a circle and learn from each other,” he said. “You gotta put the ego aside; you’re not going to survive, and no one’s going to work with you or collaborate with you if you’ve got a large ego. So, set aside your ego, learn from each other, and that’s how you go forward.”
Table 1807 is a way to step into the heart of culinary connection where meaningful engagement unfolds from the online space into real life. Chefs Michael Kitano and Remrick Clemente, who first crossed paths via Table 1807 show that it’s more than just a group — it’s a catalyst for forging lifelong connections and creating extraordinary culinary experiences.
By becoming part of this dynamic community, you can open the door to a world of possibilities, discover upcoming mixers, build your culinary network, and uncover opportunities for exciting collaborations.
Do more than follow the story — become a part of it. Join Table 1807 today, and let the culinary adventure begin!