Cameron Lewark always wanted to be a chef, but for a time he also had no choice. While his mother worked two jobs, the 10-year-old Lewark often cooked dinner for the family, and actually tried experimenting with the meager ingredients at hand to create flavorful dishes. So while high school found Lewark playing football and even receiving scholarship offers, he knew his future would be in food.
He visited several culinary schools, but Lewark knew he needed professional kitchen experience first. Fortunately, among his first kitchen job was apprenticing with Lee Heftner at Wolfgang Puck’s Granita, peeling potatoes, doing whatever was asked of him, and basically building up the kind of endurance and “yes” attitude an early career requires.
Lewark started as a prep cook, and then a year later was working in the bakeshop. He then followed Heftner to Spago Beverly Hills, where he often slept in his car between shifts (when he wasn’t helping cater to the glitterati or at Oscars parties). In 2001 Lewark was tapped to move again, this time to Hawaii, joining the opening team at Spago Maui as sous chef. He was made chef de cuisine soon after, at 29 years old. Now the 2012 Hawaii Rising Star Chef no longer peels potatoes, but designs a constantly evolving Hawaiian fusion menu that draws heavily from Southeast Asian flavors and ingredients.