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Grind Time: StarChefs.com honors local talent
BY JASON GENEGABUS / email@example.com
Unless you work in the culinary industry, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve never heard of StarChefs.com. But ask any of Honolulu’s top chefs — or those who aspire to be — and they’ll tell you how influential the award-winning online magazine is among their peers.
Better yet, ask Halekulani Executive Chef Vikram Garg, who wanted the publication to visit so badly, he got on a plane and flew to New York City to lobby on behalf of Hawaii’s food scene.
StarChefs.com CEO Antoinette Bruno and Managing Editor Will Blunt listened, and on Dec. 4 they were at the Halekulani to present the “StarChefs Rising Stars Revue.” After multiple trips here over the summer to taste the food of more than 50 different chefs and restaurants on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island, they returned last week to celebrate the accomplishments of Hawaii’s 14 honorees and recognize them on a national level.
“This experience has been really gratifying,” said Blunt. “I think there’s a lack of appreciation for the quality and the excitement of what’s happening here on a culinary level. Hawaii has a lot to bring to the table.
“I do think that Hawaii probably has a reputation to overcome. But any of those stereotypes get shattered, in the sense that the cuisine and the chefs are doing things on par with things we’re seeing around the country, and they’re doing it with their own style.
“There is a lot of exciting stuff that’s being done here, and we wanted to share it,” he said.
A FEW hundred people were in attendance at the gala tasting, which was hosted by Garg and Chef Chai Chaowasaree; Halekulani wine manager Kevin Toyama handled sommelier duties, pairing wines and specialty cocktails with various dishes.
The night started off with a VIP reception, followed by a formal program recognizing each winner and their designated mentor. Chef Alan Wong was also recognized with the StarChefs Mentor Award for his hand in training numerous local chefs in his kitchens.
Once the speeches were finished and pictures snapped, everyone moved outdoors for the main event. After a few days of fun and camaraderie, it was time for the honorees to show those who shelled out $95 and $125 a ticket why they were picked by the StarChefs.com team.
“Everyone works so hard … so a night to just come together and have fun has been great,” said Maui-based chef Sheldon Simeon, who is also a contestant on the current season of Bravo’s “Top Chef.”
“To have StarChefs.com here is a big step forward for all of us. Everybody’s been so supportive of each other. Everyone here is so passionate,” Simeon said.
“Grind Time” is always looking for the latest places to get your grub on. Email Jason Genegabus with restaurant, bar or any other food/drink-related item at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2012 Hawaii Rising Stars
Presented by StarChefs.com
Christopher Kulis, Capische? (Maui)
Featured Dish: Australian Beef Carpaccio, Horseradish Aïoli, Radish, Lemon Oil, Fried Capers and Parmigiano-Reggiano
Andrew Le, 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
Sustainability Chef: Quinten Frye, SALT Kitchen & Tasting Bar (Oahu)
Featured Dish: Octopus, Chorizo, Olives, Potatoes, Compressed Grape Tomatoes, Almonds, and Kahuku Corn Purée
Artisan Chef: Doug Kocol, SALT Kitchen & Tasting Bar (Oahu)
Featured Dish:, Pork Rillette and Soppressata
Concept Chef: Sheldon Simeon, Star Noodle (Maui)
Featured Dish: “Hapa Ramen” (Roast Pork, Poached Egg, Bamboo Shoots, Kamaboko, Bok Choi, Mayu, and Spicy Miso)
Community Chef: Mark Noguchi, Pili Hawaii Catering (Oahu)
Featured Dish: Ho’i’o Fiddlehead Ferns, Dried Cuttlefish, Kombu, Octopus, and Tomatoes
Restaurateur: Ed Kenney, Town/Uptown Events (Oahu)
Featured Dish: Cervena Venison Pipikaula with Bud Bucket Ice
Mixologist: David Newman, Pint + Jigger (Oahu)
Featured Cocktail: “The Whiskey Thatcher” (Rye, Mint, Lime, and Flamed Pernod Rinse)