Born in 1974 in Taiwan to a Taiwanese mother and an American father, Zen Compound founder and owner Paul Hemming has always been compelled to explore creativity and share those experiences with others.
As a child, he and his family traveled between Taiwan, Hawaii, and the Pacific Northwest, settling wherever his linguistics professor father had a teaching position. “Moving around and experiencing so many different places and cultures shaped me into the diverse person I’ve grown into,” Hemming says.
One of Hemming’s first creative impulses came when he was 19 years old, when he moved from Seattle to San Francisco to attend film school at San Francisco State University. There, he reveled not only in the creative outlet of filmmaking, but also discovered another passion as a DJ in clubs throughout the city.
After a building fire destroyed all of his possessions, including his senior film project, Hemming left school and took what he refers to as “a musical detour.” “The fire was a sign that I should experiment with different creative outlets before settling on filmmaking,” he says. “DJing was something I did for fun that made me feel good.” His hobby soon became a career, with Hemming booking gigs at nightclubs and private events, and eventually opening Zen City Records—a community space for DJs in Oakland and San Francisco that housed an Internet radio station, recording studio, art gallery, and record label.
A connection he made in the club world eventually led him to open Temple nightclub in 2007, which combined influences from his eclectic background and became the centerpiece for the creative epicenter known as Zen Compound. The 22,000-square-foot, eco-conscious, entertainment complex combines the sophisticated yet sustainable cuisine from Prana and Ki restaurants with energy-inspiring entertainment. “I have so much to be thankful for in my life that my greatest pleasure is to bring people together to enjoy good music, learn about art and innovation, and to enjoy drinks and savor food that nourishes the mind, body, and spirit,” Hemming says.
Hemming continues to throw his own parties and program the music at Temple on Saturday and is looking to continue expanding the current property with guest artists housing their work in the on-site Urban Montage gallery, as well as installing a power-generating dance floor.
From saving the whales of the Antarctic to studying the salmon of Alaska, Casson Trenor has worked to support stewardship of our marine resources across the globe.
Trenor has stalked the fetid warehouses of Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, spent two months journeying by ship through the icy waters of Antarctica, berthed on leaking wrecks off the African coast, and gone octopus fishing with holy men on the Island of Yap. In thousands of conversations with fishermen around the world, he has heard one statement repeated time and time again:
“The fish are gone.”
These four words led Trenor to realize that the oceans are in dire need of our help.
Trenor is the author of Sustainable Sushi: A Guide to Saving the Oceans One Bite at a Time, designed to enable consumers concerned about environmental and health issues to dine with confidence at the sushi bar. He also owns and maintains www.sustainablesushi.net, a blog and reference website concentrating on sushi and ocean conservation. In addition, Trenor writes articles for numerous other websites and publications, such as his monthly For the Oceans column at alternet.org.
In an effort to bring sustainable sushi out of the conceptual realm and into the Amerian foodscape, Trenor founded the world’s first sustainable sushi restaurant, San Francisco’s Tataki Sushi and Sake Bar, in February 2008. He has also converted two “conventional” sushi bars – Seattle’s Mashiko and Miya’s in New Haven, CT – into sustainable sushi operations. In October 2010, Trenor opened Tataki South, a new venture that expands the concept of sustainable sushi as a fine dining experience.
Trenor holds the position of Senior Markets Campaigner with Greenpeace USA, where he spearheads the organization’s efforts to hold restaurants and supermarkets accountable for their seafood sustainability practices and to help educate the public about the global fisheries crisis. He is a frequent commentator on sustainable seafood issues and has been featured in regional, national, and international media outlets, including CNN, NPR, New York Times, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Tampa Tribune, UTNE Reader, Hemispheres, Tokyo Weekender, and Edible San Francisco. He is also the subject of an extensive multi-part feature story in the Japanese newspaper Kochi Shimbun. Trenor is also a main character in Peter Heller’s recent book, The Whale Warriors - a factual account of the exploits of one small, rusty ship determined to take on the entire Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean in 2005 and 2006.
In October 2009, Trenor was awarded the title “Hero of the Environment” by TIME Magazine, and in August 2010, Trenor received the “Ocean Protection Hero” award from the well-respected environmental organization Save Our Shores.
Born in Washington State and living in San Francisco, Casson speaks five languages, has traveled to over fifty countries, and holds an MA in International Environmental Policy from the prestigious Monterey Institute of International Studies.