Not... (as we'd say in the neighborhood) meaning no way this winner of countless culinary awards, co-founder of Hawaii Regional Cuisine (1992), recognized by Robert Mondavi Winery as one of 13 Rising Star Chefs in America (1994), recipient of the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef: Pacific Northwest, Chef of the Year by Santé Magazine (2001), Gourmet Magazine ranked his restaurant sixth in a list of America’s Best 50 Restaurants... how could Chef Wong who also owns The Pineapple Room at Ala Moana Center, Alan Wong's on King St., and Alan Wong's Hawaii at Disneyland in Maihama, Japan... be considered a mom and pop operation? His Hawaii roots are grounded firmly and he proves it by the support he has given colleagues and local producers from the coffee farms in Holualoa to Nalo Farms in Waimanalo. This interview is an excerpt from a series called Changing Hawaii. One of our most enjoyable documentary style forays into life in contemporary Hawaii.
For those of you who recall King's Bakery, McCully Chop Suey, Flamingo's, and so many other local landmark eateries that have disappeared you'll chuckle to hear Chef call his fine dining restaurant empire "just another mom and pop (store)". But he's right. Like Mavro, Hiroshi's, Dk's Steakhouse, Michel's at Colony Surf, Vino, Merriman's, and other spectacular Hawaii restaurants owned and operated as small businesses (vs large corporations) they are uniquely Hawaii and they reflect a lot about who we are in the islands. These restauranteurs and chefs have managed to survive and thrive through changing economies and changing times. They're like beacons who remind us that it's going to be ok... and that Life is Good.
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