Chef John Mooney

As Executive Chef and Partner of Bell, Book and Candle, Bidwell, and now Chef/Founder of Kakele House Hawaii, John Mooney’s career has taken him on a winding, global culinary journey, creating menus and overseeing kitchen operations everywhere from India to Ireland and ultimately back to New York City, Washington D.C. and now Hawaii.

John’s culinary career began at Kendall Culinary School in Illinois, where he completed his internship working at The Signature Room at the 95th atop Chicago’s John Hancock Center. Upon graduation, John worked under celebrated Chefs Gabino Sotelino at nouvelle French restaurant Ambria and Chef Dean Fearing at The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas.

In 1995, John was appointed Sous Chef at Washington D.C.’s high-end restaurant Red Sage, and Asian street food venture RAKU by restaurateur Mark Miller and Chef Randall Warder. In 1997, John traveled to New York to become the Sous Chef at Tapika restaurant and Michael Jordan’s The Steak House, working with Chef David Walzog and the Glazier Restaurant Group.

In 1998, he joined the team at the W Hotel New York, working with Drew Nieporent and Chef Michel Nischan to launch the hotel’s flagship restaurant, Heartbeat. At Heartbeat, John expanded his interest in seasonal, fresh and organic produce, working as Chef de Cuisine and later as Executive Chef. In 2004 John was named one of the ‘Best Hotel Chefs’ in the USA by the James Beard Foundation for his work at Heartbeat. Also in 2004, John was appointed corporate consulting Chef of India’s luxurious Taj Hotel group. Here, he opened India’s first organic restaurant, PURE by Michel Nischan, and re-opened New Delhi’s premier fine-dining restaurant, Orient Express.

In 2006, John moved to Dublin, Ireland, where he was appointed executive Chef at the iconic restaurant The Saddle Room in The Shelbourne Hotel. At the end of 2008, John returned to the United States to open Highland Manor in Apopka, Florida, alongside partner Mick O’Sullivan—whom he met at Red Sage.

It is with Mick that he opened Bell Book & Candle in 2010, where he remains Chef/Partner. Bell Book & Candle uses an Aeroponic system to grow their vegetables on the roof of their West Village location. BB&C also received the sustainability award from Star Chefs for 2011. In January 2014, John and Mick opened Bidwell in Union Market, Washington, DC, serving an innovative seasonal American menu, responsibly sourced from purveyors as local as his Union Market neighbors, and from Bidwell’s much larger rooftop Aeroponic garden. It has been thriving for 3 years now. In 2017 Bidwell received a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand.

In March 2016, Mooney opened an operating farm and event space on the island of Oahu called Kakele. Kakele is a fully functioning certified organic farm. The primary crop is mangoes (11 varieties) and avocado (2 varieties). The farm also grows over 20 different Hawaiian fruits and super foods such as lilikoi, bread fruit and mangosteen, as well as coffee; utilizing an orchard, conventional vegetable growing, and of course vertical aeroponics. The main purpose of the farm is to hold small functions of experiential tourism, and it serves as a Chef club house. Chef Mooney invites guest Chefs from all over the world to come and mix their own background with Polynesian ingredients and culture to create an original experience where the guests interact throughout the preparation. Kakele has a one-of-a-kind outdoor kitchen with custom fire pit, wood burning oven and 3 different grills, all made from reclaimed metal from the SS Missouri.