george kao, Founder & ceo
George Kao is the CEO of Standard Fare Food Company, where he specializes in hospitality, food and beverage. He has a great appreciation for different cultures, and the language of food is his medium in connecting with clients.
He was born in Taipei, Taiwan and as a child, lived between Japan and the United States. Kao is fluent in English, Japanese, and Taiwanese. Through his travels and constant exposure to different foods and cultures, the curiosity into the food industry was always there. The discovery of Larousse Gastronomic (encyclopedia of gastronomy) at age 21 cemented his desire and ultimate career path.
Although he pursued to be a banker like his grandfather, his internship at Goldman Sachs Tokyo helped him close one chapter of his life and catapulted him to pursue his true calling in life.
Kao’s first position out of school was National Sales Representative at D’Artagnan, a specialty purveyor of foie gras, premium meats and other gourmet ingredients. Despite not having a seasoned culinary background, Kao was able to navigate through the chef and restaurant world. He familiarized himself with specialty gourmet foods quickly, setting daily sales records for fresh truffles in New York City. Customers included Per Se, Daniel, Jean Georges, Four Seasons Restaurant, and Ducasse, to name a few.
After a few years in the industry, he found himself at New York Mutual Trading Company, an 85 year old Japanese Food and Beverage importer and distributor, where he handled alcohol distribution for the entirety of the East Coast; building relationships and educating sales representatives; maintained key on- and off-premise accounts on all facets of saké, shochu and Japanese craft beers; he liaised with makers and retailers to highlight products in a variety of markets. He grew his market by 10x since he joined the company. He has successfully completed both of John Gauntner’s saké levels and was then head instructor at the Saké School of America in the NY Branch, the Beverage Educator for NY Mutual Trading Company, the Culinary Events Director of the Japanese Culinary Center (now MTC Kitchen). He prides himself in ability to teach others about food and beverage.
After close to 7 years with NY Mutual Trading Company, Kao took a 4 year stint at Sun Noodle as the Director of Sales for the US and European market. Along with the Corporate Executive Chef, Kao traveled extensively across the east coast helping a myriad of start up ramen shops get their bearings. Other notable works include educating and creating new distribution channels, improving the landscape of Ramen here in the US for the next generation of chefs seeking noodle fame.
Currently a partner at SakaMai, Kao keeps one foot in the distribution ring of the industry and places the other foot into the realm of retail. The position of food & beverage director at SakaMai is fitting for Kao; his years of experience and proven credibility command respect, while his enthusiasm and amiable nature make him the exemplification of hospitality.