From Oregon to Vermont to Japan, chef Lokelani Alabanza’s passion for making all things sweet took her half-way around the world before landing her in Tennessee, in her current role as culinary director and operating partner of Hattie Jane’s Creamery, a small-batch ice cream shop based in Nashville.
Born in the California Bay Area and raised in Oregon, Alabanza landed her first kitchen job at Sven’s Hus #13 in Denmark. After returning to the States, Alabanza enrolled in the New England Culinary Institute in Essex Junction, VT, with intentions of becoming a chef. She completed various culinary internships (including Good Taste in Oregon and the Center for Culinary Development in San Francisco) before meeting chef Neall Fraser of LA’s Grace Restaurant, where she accepted the only kitchen position they had available: pastry cook, where she worked under the tutelage of Elizabeth Belkind. While in this position, she simultaneously worked at Campanile for pastry chefs Dahlia Narvaez and Nancy Silverton. It was in these two positions that Alabanza discovered her passion for making desserts.
Next, she became executive pastry chef at Beso Hollywood. With eight years in Southern California under her belt, in 2010she relocated to Japan to work as a personal chef. When she returned to the states four years later , she landed in Las Vegas, where she worked in the bakery at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon at The Venetian hotel. Around the same time, she launched Sugared, a hand pie company.
Alabanza moved to Nashville in 2015 to join Hattie Jane’s, where she creates uniquely Southern ice cream flavors using seasonal and local ingredients. Favorite flavors include Minty Chip, made with 70% Cordillera chocolate with spirulina to add color, and Nana Puddin, made with marshmallow fluff and Nilla Wafers.