You Should Know: Lena Kwak

Lena Kwak Featured Lena Kwak is a graduate of Rhode Island’s Johnson & Wales Culinary Institute and the CEO & Co-Founder of Cup4Cup. She began her culinary career as a private chef and caterer and pursued an internship with Thomas Keller at the renowned establishment, The French Laundry in Yountville, CA. As a Research & Development Chef, Kwak was tasked with testing edible innovations. She excelled quickly and was assigned to devise a gluten-free version of Keller’s famed Salmon Cornet. A tearful response from a gluten intolerant dinner guest over her gluten-free brioche (because she hadn’t eaten bread in seven years!) was the genesis of Cup4Cup. Under the mentorship of Chef Keller, Lena refined the proprietary blend of flour and set about making it available to a larger audience.

Since then, Lena has been honored as one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30 Innovators” (2012), one of Zagat’s “30 Under 30″ and as an “American Made” award recipient from Martha Stewart. She continues to oversee the development of all Cup4Cup products.

There are currently five products in the Cup4Cup line, including a multi-purpose Gluten-free Flour, Pancake & Waffle Mix, Pizza Crust Mix , Gluten & Dairy-free Brownie Mix, and the newest, Wholesome Flour Blend. Two new products in the Wholesome line will launch in fall 2014 – Wholesome Yellow Cake Mix and Wholesome Corn Bread Mix. As of fall 2014, all Cup4Cup products will be non-GMO.

Lena Kwak Name: Lena Kwak
Occupation: CEO & Co-Founder of Cup4Cup
Twitter Handle: @cupforcup

1. What are three words that best describe you?

Ambitious, Creative, Hungry

2. Tell us why you’re awesome in two sentences or less.

Well, I am a chef turned business owner who partnered with Chef Thomas Keller and even with a hectic work schedule; I still manage to throw my share of killer dinner parties. CEO/Hostess.

3. What are your three biggest indulgences?

Kettle Potato Chips / Chocolate Covered Pretzels / Sour Ales

4. What’s currently your favorite…

Restaurant: Monsieur Benjamin / Aziza / Hogs Apothecary / Great China
Food: (Killing me, this is like the pick your favorite child question) Seafood
Cocktail: This changes seasonally, but for now it’s the Italian Aperol Spritz
Shopping destination/store: I am a regular at Nordstrom, but I’ve got a nasty habit of developing a taste for random stores like All Saints which is my most recent vice.
Fashion item: Jackets.
Place to hangout: Coastal Hikes or Science Museums like the Exploratorium in SF.
City: Austin, NYC, Seattle and San Francisco (listed by priority).
Travel item: Earphones/water.
Beauty product: Nars lipsticks or bronzers.
Skincare product: Coconut oil, I cook with it and use it as a moisturizer for my hair/skin.
Hostess gift: Flowers or plants.
Home décor item: Farmhouse style mirrors.
Book: Work: “Crucial Conversations”; Play: “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”
Magazine: Lucky Peach

5. What’s the ONE thing you absolutely can’t live without?


6. What is your biggest pet peeve?

Cocky attitudes, especially worst when it’s all talk.

7. If you could have dinner with anyone (living or not) who would it be?

My grandma who passed away when I was a teenager. It’d be great to have a chance to cook her a good meal and catch up on life since our last conversation. I’d love to soak up more of her wisdom and kindness. If her schedule just happened to be too busy, my second choice would be Martha or Oprah.

8. What does it mean to you to have a strong, engaging brand and how has having one helped you?

Think outside the box, but don’t reinvent the wheel.

9. What is your #1 tip for fellow women entrepreneurs?

Know that mistakes will be made and you will fall along the way. What makes matters worst is that we tend to beat ourselves up for making mistakes. I remind myself of my favorite quote when this happens:

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”   – Johnny Cash



Lena Must-Haves


1. Succulents
These plants will last a long time and are the perfect hostess gift.

2.Coconut Oil
The scent of freshly cracked coconuts and a clean, ripe flavor make this oil ideal for cooking or body care.

3. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
Mindy Kaling’s memoir is hilarious and so relateable, which makes for a very fun read.

4. Nars Lipstick in Heat Wave
This creamy lipstick will make any pout, perfectly puckerable.

5. Neutrogena Clear Face SPF
Soak in the sun while keeping your skin free of break-outs with this moisturizing sunblock.

6. Honey Almond Quinoa Cereal
Quinoa, kaniwa, honey and almonds make this a delicious start to your morning.

7. Lavender and Avocado Intensive Conditioner
Your hair will be left shiny, soft and luxurious with this lavender scented, color-safe conditioner.

8. All Saints “Lorie” Coat
This coat is so chic and so versatile, it can keep you warm on your way to the office or cocktails.




  1. Love the non-GMO change. That yellow cake mix sounds soooo good 🙂

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