Rising Star Pastry Chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka of Alan Wong’s - Biography
Michelle Karr-Ueoka was born and raised in Honolulu, though her pursuit to become one of Hawaii’s most notable pastry chefs has taken her far afield. After a year at college in Portland, Oregon, her passion for cooking was ignited after an externship at Alan Wong's while getting her Travel Industry Management degree from University of Hawaii. It was at the Hawaiian culinary temple, where Karr-Ueoka could barely hold a knife properly, that she realized she wanted to be a chef. After a heart-to-heart with Wong, Karr-Ueoka decided to attend the Culinary Institute of America, during which she completed stages at Daniel and Union Pacific. But her most memorable externship was at The French Laundry, which she landed by writing to Thomas Keller, saying she’d do anything for an opportunity, even scrub toilets with a toothbrush (she mailed him a toothbrush as proof of her passion).
When Karr-Ueoka rejoined Alan Wong's, she spent six years on the savory side. She moved back to New York City for another brief stage, this time at Keller's Per Se—an experience that made Karr-Ueoka realize she wanted to be a pastry chef. With her new direction, she returned to Hawaii and rejoined Alan Wong’s, this time as pastry chef, where her desserts are a testament to her native land’s exotic bounty. For Karr-Ueoka's travels have taken her full circle to who she wants to be: one of the most daring and thoughtful pastry chefs in Hawaii.