Hawaii Mom Blog: Hawaiian Airlines Announces New Featured Chef Series Showcasing Hawai‘i’s Newest Talent




June 1, 2015

Hawaiian Airlines Announces New Featured Chef Series Showcasing Hawai‘i’s Newest Talent

Hawaiian Airlines, the only U.S. domestic carrier offering complimentary meals to guests in all cabins, and Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree are proud to announce the launch of a new inflight culinary program featuring specially-designed menu creations from five of Hawai‘i’s burgeoning top chefs including: Jon Matsubara of Japengo; Lee Anne Wong of Koko Head Café; Wade Ueoka of MW Restaurant; Andrew Le of The Pig & The Lady; and Sheldon Simeon of Mala Wailea and MiGRANT.

Through 2017, dishes created by each local chef will be featured on a six month rotation in the First Class cabin of all flights from Hawai‘i to the Mainland. Chef Chai will continue to prepare menus for all Mainland flights returning to the islands. Together, this all-star line-up will give guests the opportunity to enjoy delicious regional, savory cuisine when traveling domestically.

“We are dedicated to creating an authentic Hawaiian experience, calling on the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the islands so our guests can begin their Hawai‘i journey from the moment they board the plane,” said Renee Awana, senior director of product development for Hawaiian Airlines. “The guest chef program represents Hawaiian’s continued support of local talent, giving our guests the opportunity to sample world-class dishes from rising stars in our dynamic culinary scene.”

Chef Jon Matsubara, Chef de Cuisine of Japengo Restaurant, officially kicks off the Hawaiian Airlines Featured Chef Series today. Each of his locally inspired, handcrafted dishes will include distinctively Hawaiian ingredients like Maui Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Kalo (taro) Mash or Kalo (taro) poke with Seaweed, Inamona and Scallions.

“I’m so excited to join the Hawaiian Airlines’ ‘ohana,” added Chef Jon Matsubara. “I truly feel that our land produces some of the richest flavors, and I’m honored that guests will have a lasting impression of our beautiful islands through these dishes as they embark on their journey home.”

The timeline for each guest chef includes: 
  • June 1 – Nov. 30, 2015: Chef Jon Matsubara, Chef de Cuisine, Japengo Restaurant Chef Jon has elevated Japengo to a new level in the time he has held the position of Chef de Cuisine. Matsubara has been featured at the James Beard House in New York City and on the Food Network, Travel Channel and the TODAY Show. Prior to Japengo, Matsubara was at Azure, where he helped the restaurant win Honolulu Magazine’s 2010 Hale Aina Award for Hawaii’s Best New Restaurant and the 2010 Ilima Award for Hawaii’s Best Restaurants Critics’ Choice. 
  • Dec. 1, 2015 – June 1, 2016: Lee Anne Wong, owner/chef, Koko Head Café Since she traded her fashion career for the culinary world, Chef Lee Anne Wong has been bringing her modern-global fusion cuisine to the people. She appeared as a “cheftestant” on Season One of Bravo’s Top Chef, and later served as the show’s Supervising Culinary Producer. In December 2013, Wong made the move from New York City to Honolulu to open up Koko Head Cafe, an Island-style brunch house. 
  • 2016: Wade Ueoka, Owner/Chef, MW Restaurant Specialists in Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine, Chef Wade Ueoka and his wife Michelle Karr-Ueoka opened their first joint venture, MW Restaurant, in Honolulu in 2013. Both have traveled around the world, and draw inspiration from their journeys, but none greater than the melting pot of Hawai‘i and its local bounty. In February 2014, MW Restaurant was nominated by the James Beard Foundation in the category of Best New Restaurant. 
  • 2016 –2017: Andrew Le, Creator/Owner/Chef, The Pig & The Lady Considered one of the “new kids in the kitchen” in the Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine movement, Andrew Le is making his mark on Hawaii’s culinary scene by using his cultural roots to inspire his menus. The mastermind behind the innovative restaurant The Pig & The Lady, Le creates contemporary food featuring Vietnamese flavors – a foundation built on delicious memories first introduced by his mother. His menus have included the exotica of pandan leaves, waterlily herbs, betelnut and nuoc mam (fish sauce). 
  • 2017: Sheldon Simeon, Executive Chef, Mala Wailea and MiGRANT One of Hawaii Magazine’s Top 5 Best Hawaiian Chefs of 2014, Chef Sheldon Simeon offers a playful, unexpected take on classic dishes. His mix of modern cuisine and tradition create a distinctive experience that legions of loyal fans have come to love. Simeon welcomes customers to his restaurant as he would his home with a relaxed family atmosphere and the slogan “Come My House. Eat!” 
Chef Chai, owner and chef of Chef Chai at Pacifica Honolulu and Waikiki is recognized as one of Hawaii’s top Hawaii Regional Cuisine chefs. Known for fusing fresh Hawaii ingredients with the exotic flavors of Asia, Chef Chai has created a culinary style that reflects the cultural diversity of Oahu and the Hawaiian Islands. Since 2010, he has designed the domestic and international in-flight meal program for Hawaiian’s First Class guests.

“The great thing about working with a company like Hawaiian Airlines is that they continue to introduce creative ways to showcase local talent,” said Chef Chai Chaowasaree. “With each chef’s diverse background and signature cooking style, travelers have yet another reason to choose to Hawaiian.”

Foodies and wine enthusiasts alike can also witness each participating guest chef live in action at this year’s Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival. As a major sponsor, Hawaiian Airlines will host two signature events during the festival on both Maui and Oahu. Hawaiian Airlines Presents Legend of Shep Gordon will take place on September 6, 2015 at Napili Garden at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa and will celebrate Gordon’s life and achievements with a six-course dinner created by six of his chef friends. On September 12, Hawaiian Airlines Presents Corks & Forks Pacific Coast will feature over 20 of the most coveted red wines from the Pacific Coast as well as 20 celebrity chefs on the rooftop of the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

Through both the featured guest chef series and the signature events at the 2015 Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival, the islands’ top culinary minds are able share the diversity and breadth of island cuisine in a unique way that only Hawaiian Airlines can provide.

Guests traveling to Hawai‘i for the 2015 Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival from any of their 11 gateway cities will receive a 5% discount when booking through Hawaiian Airlines. Please visit www.HawaiianAirlines.com/Affiliate and enter the promo code: HIFOODNWINE.

For an exclusive interview with chef Jon Matsubara and more information on the Hawaiian Airlines Featured Chef Series please visit http://hawaiianairlines.com/FeaturedChefSeries.

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