My commitment to safety, transparency, and mentorship guides everything I do. These core values drive me to support causes that uplift communities and individuals.

Believing in people coming together to enact positive change, fostering a culture of unity and progress every step of the way, our values lead the charge, inspiring our causes, and fueling our dedication to making a difference.

Chef Crystal Wahpepah


At the core of my values lies a profound belief in the transformative power of mentorship. Years ago, while serving on the intake panel for La Cocina, I had the privilege of meeting Crystal, a passionate Native American Chef deeply rooted in her heritage. Witnessing her dedication to preserving and sharing her culture through cuisine ignited a spark within me. Inspired by her commitment, I mentored Crystal, guiding her through the intricacies of operating her business with transparency and longevity. Over regular meetings at the San Francisco library, we delved into the financial aspects of entrepreneurship, creatively navigating the challenges of business management while staying true to her cultural values.

Fast forward, Crystal's journey has been nothing short of remarkable. With unwavering determination, she honed her craft and opened Wahpepah's Kitchen in her hometown of Oakland, California. Her accolades, including receiving the Indigenous Artist Activist Award and being inducted into the Native American Almanac as one of the first Native American women to own a catering business, showcase her pioneering spirit. In 2016, she made history as the first Native American Chef to compete on the Food Network's show, Chopped. Crystal's influence extends far beyond her restaurant, as she shares her wisdom with a global audience through educational talks and catering engagements. She has worked with esteemed organizations such as the American Indian Film Festival, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Salesforce, WeWork, UC Berkeley, Cal Poly, UCSF, and the National Indian Health Board.

Crystal's accomplishments also include competing on Food Network's "Beat Bobby Flay", being featured at Willie Nelson's Luck Reunion, and being a finalist for a 2022 James Beard award. She was honored by the City of Oakland and listed in the largest single-volume reference work about Native American culture available today.

Wahpepah’s Kitchen has brought delicious catering to companies all over Silicon Valley, serving powerhouse tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Crystal and her team are happy to share authentic Native American culture everywhere they go. Additionally, Crystal catered the 2019 American Indian Film Festival, an annual non-profit film festival in San Francisco dedicated solely to Native American/First Nations films, which prepared the way for the formation of the American Indian Film Institute in 1979.

Photos from Wahpepah's Kitchen.