Born behind the Iron Curtain, Kai entered the West through Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie as a toddler. Years later, as The Wall fell he bicycled with a ballerina across the emerging Wild Wild East from Athens through warring Yugoslavia to Warszawa. During the euphoric and chaotic early days of German reunification he lived in Berlin’s renowned Mainzer Straße squats, and stood guard against fascist skinheads weeks before the block succumbed to one of Europe’s most massive postwar police operations. Later he navigated Kurdistan during the insurgency’s large-scale hostilities, on a 3-wheel ’65 Dniepr motorcycle with a Swede in the sidecar. In 2015 he raced a motorcycle through the hail and mudflows of the Los Angeles Grapevine Landslide. In 2016 Kai began a solo motorcycle journey around-the-world. Without GPS he crossed Mexico’s snow covered Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains to reach Las Pozas, the jungle ghost town Salvador Dalí declared “genius,” and traversed Central America during the rainy season of a La Niña year. He often lives/works on organic farms, such as a season @ Jungla del Jaguar eco-lodge / organic farm in Costa Rica’s Corcovado Jungle, (National Geographic: “the most biologically intense place on earth”), where he redesigned the lodge and helped reshape it’s image in exchange for a good roof, and food collectively grown / caught / prepared / enjoyed. Currently he’s rehabbing from a motorcycle accident that likely saved the life of a 9 year-old boy. Hundreds of friends from around the world joined a global effort to medevac Kai from Roatán, Honduras, to Oakland, California.
Kai has a knack for being a part of history-in-the-making. He is one of few people in history to ride a motorcycle into Cuba, which he accomplished by crewing on the Stahlratte, a 112 year-old 7-sailed 52 meter (170′ foot) schooner, from Isla Mujeres, Mexico to Cienfuegos, near the Bay of Pigs. In 2017 he withstood Class-5 Hurricane Irma (the strongest in recorded history), and rallied international communities to support rebuilding homes and family businesses around Havana and Baracoa. In Havana he experienced Barack Obama‘s historic visit, The Rolling Stones live, and Fidel Castro’s funeral. The same week that D.J. Trump won the US Electoral College, he witnessed Nicaragua’s Ortega’n “House of Cards” elections. And outside Port Antonio, Jamaica he & a friend chanced upon artist Banksy at play. His compass is guided by curiosity, camaraderie, serendipity, and respect.
Journalism | Media
Back in the early 1990s, in the midst of a global paradigm shift from the Kremlin to Cape Town to Tiananmen Square, Kai helped build the first private journalism & media training schools (NGOs) across the former Soviet Bloc, from Poland to Albania to Kazakhstan to Estonia, with support from the European Union and Harvard University. In the face of skepticism, corruption, and mortal threats from those with the most to gain and lose during the transition from totalitarianism to free information systems — that was disruptive. Next, he conceived and launched Poland’s most aspirational professional advertising award, Kreatura.
Storytelling | Filmmaking
Circumstances led Kai to film in Chernobyl, ahead of the 10-year anniversary of the nuclear disaster, long before any foreigners were allowed in the Forbidden Zone. That garnered an invitation to film school in Denmark, during the birth of Dogme ’95, where he won an MPAA / EU award to work with Stanley Kubrik. Then Hollywood called, and he secured and structured Europe’s then largest ever remake deal, for Polish comedy “Kiler” with “Men In Black” Director Barry Sonnenfeld at Disney’s Hollywood Pictures.
Experiential Design | Spatial Design | Food & Drink | Hospitality
While filming in Warsaw, a lack of good eateries and watering holes inspired Kai to create Sense, Poland’s first wódka bar — something akin to introducing the bikini to the Côte d’Azur. He then worked with Historic Landmark Preservation Authorities to renovate a WWII ruin into KOM, a 240-seat restaurant with three bars and a library that helped revitalize the derelict Warsaw Ghetto. During sommelier training, he became enchanted with California and moved to savvy San Francisco. There he captured the zeitgeist by converting a 1957 Greyhound into mobile bustaurant, Diamond Lil, and earned industry and media accolades as a pioneer of the global food truck revolution. He launched the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards’ “Who To Watch,” at London’s Guildhall, with honourary scarves he designed for the world’s best chefs. In preparation for the Sochi Olympics, Kai took on the daunting challenge of developing and launching Visa’s white-label concierge services across Russia, which entailed identifying highly regarded vendors and establishing priveleged aspirational access for 65M+ end-users.
Clientele & Accolades
Kai’s personal clients include Mikhail Baryshnikov, José Carreras, Willem Dafoe, Stanlee Gatti, Thomas Keller, Alicia Keyes, Robert Lewandowski, John Malkovich, Bonnie Raitt, Charles Schwab, Lech Wałęsa, and Venus Williams, as well as organizations and corporate clients that span the globe. His award-winning designs are lauded by industry professionals and featured in international media.
A documentary series that explores the world through lenses of food and community, from refugees to royalty. In each episode Kai finds good chefs in all sorts of places, from Michelin stars to mom&pops, and challenges them to create purely local dishes with ingredients that they hunt & gather, prepare and enjoy together. The OneTank challenge requires all (100% yo!) ingredients be grown or caught within range of OneTank of fuel on a 800cc adventure motorcycle named Bleu. In Baja OneTank hunted duck, and in Havana foraged the black market with an ex-cop. Currently he’s in discussions with news outlets about a journey into Caracas, Venezuela, one of the most conflicted places on earth, to prepare a OneTank meal for imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo López’ family.
In late 2018 he organized relief supplies for Vietnam Veteran Chapter #582 victims of Paradise, California’s Campfire. In Chico, CA Kai was honoured to join Nobel Prize nominee Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen Chef Relief Team. In 2019 he worked with the Mexican Relief Kitchen cooking, procuring, transporting, and serving 1,000s of meals-a-day to refugee centers around Tijuana. Currently he’s co-creating and producing a bi-national BorderFeast along both sides of the MX-US border wall, in conjunction with Burning Man‘s Burners Without Borders. These humanitarian works, coupled with personally experiencing Class-5 Hurricane Irma’s devastation and helping rebuild across Cuba, and observing Puerto Rico’s simultaneous recovery from Hurricane María, inspire Kai’s newest endeavour ~ designing & building rapidly deployable kitchens & food growing tools for disaster relief and community resilience. Stay tuned…
Favourite Place on Earth
~ anywhere with daughters Koko & Kaszmir ~