Born and raised in Malaysia before living and studying in Singapore and New Zealand, Lina’s global view of flavor is a deeply-rooted part of her culinary perspective. A people person at heart, Lina realized early on in life that food has the power to connect people and act as the “glue” that holds us together. Many of her memories from throughout her travels have revolved around the connection between discovering local food and finding the feeling of home, ultimately inspiring her to work alongside her husband, John, to open restaurants of their own. Lina continues to love to travel today, hoping to someday eat her way across Asia, but she’s just as happy grilling at home, firmly believing that “good food should never be pretentious”.
Much of Lina’s mindset around operating a restaurant can be traced back to her experience working in a variety of management positions. Her work taught her that every position in a team is valuable and that managers should work just as hard as the dishwasher to ensure that a restaurant can operate effectively. She often attributes her quirkiness and goofy sense of humor to a lack of sleep, reminding those who glamorize the job of owning a restaurant that a lot of hard work goes into what is her dream job.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, John moved to San Francisco, California, at age 16 to pursue his education and began his kitchen career as a dishwasher. His curiosity about Japanese culture during the '80s led him to work at various styles of Japanese restaurants while attending college. After receiving his degree, John worked in the architectural field for seven years, but continued to work part-time at night at the pioneering Kaimuki Grill, an Izakaya/Ramen-focused restaurant, working closely with Chef/owner Koji Okada and learning about techniques & ingredients.
John launched Zen Box Izakaya over ten years ago with his wife and partner Lina Goh and has also picked up numerous awards and accolades for his work along the way. In 2015, John Ng completed a special ramen course through the prestigious Yamato USA in Los Angeles. He’s also collaborated side by side with ramen chefs in New York and Nashville.
Back home in Minneapolis, Chef Ng is the brainchild behind Zen Box’s annual ‘Ramen Attack’ festival and charitable fundraiser, which drew 3,000 attendees and was the fulfillment of John’s wish to unite chefs from around the globe to create and share what he loves most. His passion for all things Ramen, found on the menu at Zen Box often inspired by his regular visit to Japan as well as through his many collaborations with other chefs and local producers. Check out John’s Instagram feed @ramenarchitect, and you’ll get a window into his obsession – for John, ramen is the perfect medium where tradition, art, philosophy, and process all come together in ways we can all savor.
Ben has worked in the culinary world for 15+ years and first became notable in the culinary world as the pastry chef at Zelo. He was the Executive Chef at both Mercy and Farm Table and the opening chef for Rustica Cookies + Cream and Milkjam, where he crafted many of their still signature flavors. Ben has also competed on the Food Network, appearing on both“Chopped” and “King of Cones,” where he was runner-up to one of the industry’s most accomplished ice cream artisans while Ben was still very early in his ice cream career.
Ben is a wellspring of food knowledge, developed from an extreme drive to learn as much as possible. This encyclopedia-like expertise has been applied to ice cream, burgers, chicken, and pizza recipes. He and his wife Gabriella Grant-Spangler are the dynamic duo behind Bebe Zito and were married on the steps outside the original South Minneapolis storefront.
Jason Miller grew up cooking and traveling, which instilled in him a deep love of food and hospitality. After graduating from the University of North Texas, he took a job as an accountant but quickly realized his passion for the hospitality industry. He left the accounting trade, partnered with his uncle, and they built and operated Jason’s first restaurant in Houston, Texas, opening in 2001. Jason apprenticed as a chef under his uncle while maintaining an award-winning wine list and studying cocktails and their history. After learning all that he could under his uncle’s guidance, he was ready to take his style of cuisine and hospitality and venture out on his own.
In 2010 he opened Shiloh’s Bar & Bistro in Macomb, Illinois, as General Manager and Executive Chef. In 2016 Jason relocated to Minnesota and became General Manager of Justin Sutherland’s restaurant Public Kitchen and Bar, its lower-level bar, Green Lantern. Running a famous chef's restaurant taught Jason how to maintain the concept's identity while ensuring the food and beverage represent the brand the chef created. In 2019 Jason joined TriOut Hospitality as General Manager Lucky Cricket, their pan-Asian restaurant with celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern. As TriOut Hospitality’s portfolio of businesses has grown, Jason has used his years of experience to help cost, source, and implement food, beverage, and equipment for our restaurants and co-working spaces located in Minnesota, New York, and Tennessee.
A proud member of the Minneapolis restaurant scene, Trish loves the buzz and hum of a bar during the middle of service and the camaraderie that happens on both sides of a bar. She began crafting and serving drinks over 20 years ago and moved to the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis in 2005. One of her first jobs was just down the street at Azia, a place that changed the local cocktail landscape, and Eat Street has always been her favorite part of the city and her home base. She’s won many competitions and several awards, including City Pages “Bartender of the Year” and a Charlie Award for “Best Bartender.”
Trish has run programs for well-known hospitality hotspots around the Twin Cities, including Heidi's, Handsome Hog, the Hewing Hotel, Khâluna, Lat 14, and Lemon Grass Thai. She is dedicated to creating beverages that use fresh ingredients, loves experimenting with flavors to craft unique cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, and is passionate about creating delicious options for everyone at approachable prices.