Sunday, December 9, 2012
Starchefs.com names its Hawaii 'Rising Stars'
Fourteen of Hawaii's Rising Star chefs and their mentors share a stage at the Halekulani Ballroom before heading to the lawn to plate up their specialties.
Since 2003, StarChefs.com, the online magazine for culinary insiders, has criss-crossed the country with its StarChefs Rising Stars Revue, showcasing up-and-coming chefs.
Each year, StarChefs.com selects four American markets in which to name its Rising Stars. Candidates are nominated by the StarChefs.com Advisory Board, previous winners, local media,and the StarChefs.com website, as well as through editorial research. Winners are then chosen by the StarChefs.com editorial team.
On Dec. 4, StarChefs members descended on the Halekulani Hotel, where executive chef Vikram Garg had been instrumental in pitching Hawaii as home to dozens of up-and comers. And on stage, StarChefs.com CEO said, Hawaii chefs "blew our minds," as the website's advisory board sampled cooking of 60 candidates on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island, over what she told me was two 12-day trips over the summer, sampling from about five restaurants per day. The winner's list numbered 14, though the cutoff age to win an award is 40, and they couldn't find a winner for their sommelier award.
Also conspicously missing from the list, to me, was Christopher Kajioka, whose current home at Vintage Cave Honolulu was not yet open at the time of the sampling. But I'm sure there will be many other accolades ahead for the young chef.
During the gala tasting event at the Halekulani, hosted by Garg and co-hosted by Chai Chaowasaree of Chai’s Island Bistro, with beverage pairings from host sommelier Kevin Tomaya of Halekulani, each of the 14 winning chefs presented the dish that won them their award.
The 2012 Hawaii Rising Stars Award Winners are:
Christopher Kulis: Capische? (Maui)
Featured dish: Australian Beef Carpaccio, Horseradish Aïoli, Radish, Lemon Oil, Fried Capers and Parmigiano-Reggiano
Andrew Le: The Pig and the Lady (Oahu)
Featured dish: Pho with Betelnut Leaf-wrapped Pork Sausages
Cameron Lewark: Spago (Maui)
Featured dish: Onaga Ceviche, Green Papaya Salad, Kaffir Lime, Coconut, and Passionfruit Flower
Nick Mastrascusa: Beach Tree at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai (Big Island)
Featured dish: Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragout
Wade Ueoka: Alan Wong’s (Oahu)
Featured dish: Oxtail “Soup” of Oxtail and Corned Beef Roulade, Boiled Peanuts, and Shiitake Mushrooms
Jojo Vasquez: The Plantation House Restaurant (Maui)
Featured dish: Australian Lamb Rack, Eggplant Purée, and Chickpea Cake
Michelle Karr-Ueoka: Alan Wong’s (Oahu)
Featured dish: Lilikoi Brûlée
Elizabeth McDonald: Honu Seafood & Pizza (Maui)
Featured dish: Vegan Chocolate Mousse Cake
Quinten Frye: SALT Kitchen & Tasting Bar (Oahu)
Featured dish: Octopus, Chorizo, Olives, Potatoes, Compressed Grape Tomatoes, Almonds, and Kahuku Corn Purée
Doug Kocol: SALT Kitchen & Tasting Bar (Oahu) for excellence in charcuterie
Featured dish: Pork Rillette and Soppressata
Sheldon Simeon: Star Noodle (Maui)
Featured dish: Hapa Ramen: Roast Pork, Poached Egg, Bamboo Shoots, Kamaboko, Bok Choi, Mayu, and Spicy Miso
Mark Noguchi: Pili Hawaii Catering (Oahu)
Featured dish: Ho’i’o Fiddlehead Ferns, Dried Cuttlefish, Kombu, Octopus, and Tomatoes
Ed Kenney: Town, Uptown Events (Oahu)
Featured dish: Cervena Venison Pipikaula with Bud Bucket Ice
David Newman: Pint+Jigger (Oahu)
Featured cocktail: The Whiskey Thatcher: Rye, Mint, Lime, and Flamed Pernod Rinse
In addition, Alan Wong, whose kitchen produced two winners, and countless other young chefs around town, won the StarChefs Mentor Award.
In StarChefs.com’s long-running tradition, guests at the event were given the opportunity to vote for their favorite dish of the night. As the favorite of the evening's tasters, Michelle Karr-Ueoka will receive a Jade Range 18” commercial plancha. Because she's a pastry chef, wondering if her boss Alan Wong has dibs on the range?
Tickets for the event were $95 to $125, and a portion of the evening’s tickets sales will be donated to the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Kapiolani Community College.
Next year, StarChefs.com will take their search for rising stars to Philedelphia in February, New York in April, the San Francisco Bay Area in June, and the Carolinas in December.