team

Our Team

Jessica Clark

Director of Catering and Sales

Jessica Clark - Director of Catering and Sales

A self-professed perfectionist and organized almost to the point of OCD, event planning runs in Jessica’s genes. As a young girl, she grew up watching her grandma plan and host events at their local heritage club and learned the importance of attention to detail. Jess began honing her coordination skills early, planning homecoming and proms in high school and always inviting friends over to enjoy the thoughtful ambiance she loved to create.

After moving from her native Colorado to Maui in 2011, Jess began planning her own Maui wedding on a budget and remembered how much she thoroughly enjoyed the event planning process. Jess reveled in seeing the reactions of her guests and with the support (and nudges) from her family and friends, realized that her knack for wedding planning was a talent that should be shared with others.

Sugar Beach Events is the perfect venue for Jess to execute everything that she has learned. Her specialty is to include personal touches that make each wedding distinctive from the rest. Just like grandma taught her, she continues to focus on the details, no matter how simple or extravagant they are. As a recent bride, Jess can relate to all the emotions and stress that go into planning the wedding of your dreams and strives to take care of all your wedding needs so you and your new spouse can truly enjoy yourselves on that special day.

Kristen Sterback

Principal Wedding Designer

Kristen Sterback

Born into an Air Force Family, Kristen had the opportunity to live in many places and early on in life developed a love of travel. She loved meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. Her love of travel is what drove her to pursue a degree in Hospitality Management and graduated from Colorado State University. She still considers Colorado "home" but soon after graduating her thrill of adventure took her to pursue a job offer in San Francisco. Without having any friends or family she picked up and left her home and started her 10 year career with the largest hospitality chain in the World, Marriott International. This ultimately brought her to The Ritz Carlton Kapalua where she planned and designed over 600 mutli-cultural weddings for the course of 4 years before joining us at Sugar Beach Events. Her love of connecting with each individual couple on their special day truly is what sets her apart. She loves the joy of helping create a memory that is going to last a life time and hopefully create friends for life all over the globe!

Ashley Peterson

Event Designer Assistant

Ashley Peterson - Event Designer Assistant

Born and raised in Minnesota, Ashley decided to move to Maui in 2018 to escape the bitter cold winters of MN.  Graduating with a Bachelor degree in Public Relations from Metro State University in Minnesota, Ashley decided to work in event planning.  With her eye for detail and planning events, Ashley enjoys working closely with clients and vendors.  She has been in the wedding industry for almost 6 years, starting out first as a facilitator for a venue in St Paul and quickly worked her way to managing the venue for 4 years.  This is where she learned all the work and detail that goes into weddings and running a venue and fell in love with the industry!  Since being on Maui, she has had the pleasure of working with a successful wedding planner.  She was then referred to Sugar Beach Events, where she has been given the opportunity to work under Chef Lee and the planning team here!

When she is not working, you can find her soaking up the rays at the beach with her boyfriend or hanging out with her dog child.

Gabrielle Robinson

General Manager

Gabrielle Robinson

Gabrielle is the newest team member of Sugar Beach Events Ohana! With her attention to detail, outgoing personality and thorough communication she is excited to be apart of your special day!

Gabrielle works hard to make sure your event is smooth, beautiful and stress free. She has endless energy and feels a personal responsibility to exceed client expectations.

When she is not at Sugar Beach Events, you can find her with her toes in the sand and an iced coffee in her hands.

Heather Salanti

Operations and Purchasing Coordinator

Heather Salanti

While she may have been born in the US, Heather spent a good portion of her formative years living in Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands. Being raised abroad gave her a deep love and respect for different cultures and the wonders they have to offer. At a young age Heather developed a love for Hawaii and felt a deep seated need to be in Maui, specifically. In 2003, Heather moved to Maui to be with her soulmate and love of her life. They have raised two children together and are so grateful to call Kula, Maui home. As our Jack/Jill of many things, Heather brings to us a varied menu of experience in different fields, so it was no surprise that she was not afraid to take on the challenges our industry presents. Prior to joining us at Sugar Beach, Heather was the Center Director of Planned Parenthood in Redding, CA. The experience she gained managing the daily operations and the center budget makes her the perfect person to handle purchasing and operations for our team. As a side note Heather’s bubbly personality and winning sense of humor may also make her the new official company clown! Heather’s father taught her that she can achieve anything if she aims for the stars…what better place to do that than right here at Sugar Beach Events on Maui.

Jackie Kovarsky

Banquet Captain

Jackie Kovarsky - Banquet Captain

Jackie’s background in the food industry began in 1996 in Setauket, New York. She started working with a friend/ owner David Dombroff of the Rolling Pin Bakery, a well-known ‘from scratch’ bakery, loved by all in the Three Village area. Her skills included cake decorating, custom cookie design, customer service, and supply management.

In August 2012, she and her husband relocated to Maui Hawaii. After spending nearly 2 years with home renovation and property restoration, she had the opportunity to join the front of house serving  staff at Sugar Beach Events. Her good organizational and people skills, as well as her kind nature has led her to become the dining room captain.

In addition, Chef Lee has utilized her bakery background, having her join the pastry team where she bakes the wedding cakes. Jackie’s greatest joy is being the mother of two beautiful grown daughters, still living in New York.

Carl Anderson

Bar Manager

Carl Anderson - Bar Manager

Like many who work in the bar industry, Carl began his apprenticeship behind the bar while he was paying his way through college. It seemed like the ultimate way to pay your way through school: make money to make friends while you make drinks.

Although a brief stint on the cruise ships brought Carl to live in Hawaii in the early 90’s, it was back to making cocktails at a whole new level when he returned to the mainland where he started as a bartender for a popular restaurant known for its bottle-flipping bartenders.

Performing in many of the contests, Carl began to develop his own drinks to always be a step above the expected, in eye appeal as well as taste. Taking his new bag of tricks with him, he moved to Orlando, FL to work at the busiest restaurant in the world, Planet Hollywood. Assuming a training role there, he worked in Orlando as well as traveled globally, training bartenders for the company in both new and existing units for standards, recipes, and execution. Later on as corporate life and the travel lost its glitter, Carl became the bar manager at several of the larger nightclubs in Orlando including Mojitos, The Vue, & Club Paris where constant innovation with cocktail trends became a vital skill.

But the same thing that brings you here today brought Carl here 23 years after his bartending career began: love. He dropped his life on the mainland and moved 5000 miles because there was no other choice to be made. He loves her and has to be with her. And she is here. That makes it especially nice to be able to share these cocktails with you as you celebrate your true love today.

Chef Ross

Executive Sous Chef

Chef Ross - Executive Sous ChefBorn and raised in California, Chef Ross had an interest in the culinary arts from a young age. After learning the basics from his family, he began his career at 14 working his first restaurant job at a pizzeria. It was there that a spark of curiosity led to an interest in the industry. After high school, he began work as a dishwasher in a restaurant. After some time put in and a promotion, he was really able to get a grasp on what giving great service meant. He became a line and prep cook, and after that, began to do banquets and catering events. He honed his skills and worked under several great chefs who taught him what they knew.

After several years working in this restaurant, he moved his way to Sous Chef, where he learned the real ins and outs of the business, and grew a love for helping others improve their craft. He continued to cater weddings and events, in addition to helping run the full-service kitchen.

After moving to Maui in 2015, he began work at Nick's Fishmarket in Wailea. He then moved to Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman, before accepting the position of Executive Sous Chef at Sugar Beach Events.

In this position, he is able to express his love and creativity for food in a fun and positive atmosphere. His favorite foods include Mexican and Japanese, and he loves to try new recipes and techniques in his spare time. He is also an avid reader and beach goer, frequently combining the two! He and his husband are enjoying living a new life here on the island, with all the fun and sun that is available here.

Chef Tatiana Kaniaupio

Sous Chef

Tatiana Kaniaupio - Sous Chef Sous Chef, Tatiana Kaniaupio, is a born and raised Island girl from Hawai’i. Growing up in a big Hawaiian family, food is and always will be a huge part of her life. Her culinary journey started when she was just a little girl learning family recipes from her mom and dad.

She then took culinary arts classes in high school and that’s where the real adventures began! During her junior year she traveled to Oahu for a Cooking competition where she placed 4th in the entire State of Hawai’i. After that she was offered to travel to San Antonio, Texas for another competition against other states. She was so proud to represent her home, show off all that she has learned and she ended up taking 2nd place in the Pacific Region of the United States. 

Right after graduating high school she went straight to the University of Hawai’i Maui College to further her Culinary career for two more years. During her college years she has acquired so much knowledge, achieved many goals, received many scholarships and was named one of the top students in all of her classes! One big accomplishment that Chef Tatiana will never forget is winning a $5,000 scholarship from the Fairmont Kea Lani Resort and a chance to work side by side with the Executive Chef, Tylun Pang for eight weeks.

Chef Tatiana’s passion for food definitely shines through in her cooking. She loves learning new things, meeting new people, interacting with guests and looks forward to showing her love for food with you. 

Chef Melanie Roy

Executive Pastry Chef

Chef Melanie - Executive Pastry ChefExecutive Pastry Chef, Melanie Roy, is a born and raised Maine native. Her love for the kitchen started at a young age, cooking and baking with her grandmothers, aunts and parents, recognizing that there was something very special about a kitchen. In high school, a two-year culinary immersion class propelled her to dream bigger than before. She was accepted to The Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, NY, and excelled in every aspect of schooling. During her Senior year, she was chosen as a Top 10 Student Chef by Food & Wine Magazine and The Culinary Institute of America, which allowed her to work with some of the top chefs in the country at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. After graduation, Chef Roy continued working in different bakeries, restaurants, and catering companies, utilizing her education and honing her skills. Over the last two years, she has been a catering chef for Blue Elephant Events & Catering and opened her own food truck, Crepe Bar. And, while living and working in Maine was something she always loved and enjoyed, a call from Maui changed all of that. After a very short time here at Sugar Beach Events, Chef Roy realized how special and unique the venue and staff were and decided that Maui would be her new home.

  • Favorite Cocktail: French 75
  • Favorite Food: Crème Brulee
  • Favorite Travel Destination: Bad Gleichenburg, Austria
  • Favorite Restaurant: Eventide Oyster Company, Portland, Maine AND Evo Kitchen Bar, Portland Maine
  • Most fun thing I have ever done: 4 day Maine Outdoor Trip- White Water Rafting down a Class 5 River, hiked Mount Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine, and went skydiving! My mom thinks I have adrenaline issues.