Fly on the Wall: All in the Family at the 2012 Hawaii Rising Stars Honorees Dinner at Alan Wong’s

by Caroline Hatchett
Shannon Sturgis
January 2013

Restaurant

Hand-passed Pupus
Chef Alan Wong of Alan Wong’s
  • Soup and Sandwich: Kalua Pig and Mozzarella Sandwich with Hamakua Springs Cold Tomato Soup
  • House-made Portuguese Sausage Pinxto
  • Australian Wagyu Ribeye Pinxto
  • Chopped Ahi Sashimi-Avocado Salsa Stack, Crispy Won Ton, and Wasabi Soy
  • Kalamungai Soup
  • Opihi Shooter, Local Limpet, and Tomato Water, Basil, and Shiso Essences
  • Ho Farms Tomato and Hawaii Island Goat Cheese Salad with Crackseed Jus
  • Hoisin Duck Bao Bun
  • Da Poi Cup: House-made Dryland Taro, Lomi Tomato, and Crispy Pork
Dinner

Pairings by Sommelier Chuck Furuya of Vino Italian Tapas and Wine Bar and provided by Southern Wines & Spirits of Hawaii

Australian Wagyu, Taro, Spanish Green Peppercorns, Ali’i Mushrooms, and Gai Lan
Chef Alan Wong of Alan Wong’s Pairing: Sangiovese/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, Querciabella, Mongrana, Maremma, Italy, 2009

Braised Cervena Venison Osso Bucco and Baby Vegetable Salad
Chef Brian Etheredge of Capische?
Pairing: Nebbiolo, Guido Porro, Vigna Lazzairasco, Barolo, Italy, 2008

Roasted Australian Lamb Loin, Socca Provençal Chickpea Pancake, Ratatouille, Basil, and Harissa Lamb Jus
Chef George Mavrothalassitis of Chef Mavro
Pairing: Quadrupel Beer, Brasserie de Rochefort, Trappistes Rochefort, Belgium, 2010

Australian Wagyu Short Rib, Vaudovan-curried Oxtail, Hamakua Mushroom Agnolotti, and Manini Vegetables
Chef Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s Pairing: Grenache, Maxime François Laurent, Il Fait Soif, Côtes-du-Rhône, France, 2010

On the Bar
  • The Ojai Vineyard Chardonnay, Bien Nacido, 2009
  • Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido, 2007
  • Fourny & Fils Blanc de Blancs, 1er Cru Brut Nature, Champagne, France, N.V.
  • Nordaq FRESH Still and Sparkling Water

A special thanks to Steelite International for providing all plateware and glassware for the evening, as well as to Quality Wine and Spirits for providing wine and beer pairings.

It was a Monday night. Alan Wong's was closed. But the restaurant off South King Street was far from dead. Chef Alan Wong opened his iconic restaurant to the first-ever class of Hawaii Rising Stars, their families and mentors, and the elite of the Hawaii food scene (including hosts for Tuesday's Gala at Halekulani, Chef Vikram Garg, Sommelier Kevin Toyama, and Chef Chai Chaowasaree).

Starting several hours earlier than our typical honorees dinner (Hawaii isn't a 4am market like NOLA), the evening's fate was unsure. But after Wong sent our a gourmet avalanche of passed hors d'oeuvres and we nestled up to the bar stocked by Master Sommelier Chuck Furuya and Southern Wines and Spirits, we saw the night's potential. (Spotting the crew from Steelite sealed the deal.) Socially lubricated and appetites whetted, guests worked the room from station to station, where they sloshed through Furuya's pairings and noshed on Braised Cervena Venison Osso Bucco and Baby Vegetable Salad from Chef Brian Etheredge of Capische?, Chef George Mavrothalassitis's Roasted Australian Lamb Loin, and Australian Wagyu Short Rib with Vaudovan-curried Oxtail from Chef Roy Yamaguchi—not to mention Pineapple Shaved Ice from Rising Star Pastry Chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka's pastry team.

Rising Stars flew in from Maui and the Big Island, and mentors and parents streamed in from all over the islands and continent. The Salt crew's parents made the 7,468-hour flight to Hawaii to see their offspring honored, with Chef Quentin Frye's mom Elena in from Texas and Charcutier (or Charcuterist as he's now known) Doug Kocol's dad Rick in from Denver. These parents did not go to bed early. Neither did the Simeon clan, led by Rising Star Chef Sheldon Simeon, who was accompanied by wife Janice, brother Jeremy, and dad Reinior—the last of whom gave a heart-felt speech on his son's behalf. "He has brought honor to our island," said the senior Simeon. Ed Kenney swooped his mom and mentor Beverly Noa (a renowned hula dancer and lady-about-town) to the stage. And proud culinary papa Wong waxed about the hard work and Hawaiian devotion of his protégés Karr-Ueoka and fellow Rising Star Chef Wade Ueoka (who celebrated their first wedding anniversary the next day).

Rising Star Chef Chris Kulis's mentor Joshua Crain filled in for the parents who weren't there and talked about the support he and Kulis gave each other when their parents passed away—with Kulis rising from the experience as a better man and chef. And Honolulu's culinary mayor Mark Noguchi (joined by Mama Noguchi and mentor Dave Caldiero) was greeted with a low and loud growl, "Goooooooch." By that point in the night, everyone in the room—including StarChefs.com staff—considered Gooch family.

After the last toasts clinked, guests trickled and then poured into Rising Star Mixologist Dave Newman's Pint & Jigger across the street, where Rising Star Chef Nick Mastrascusa and his rowdy Four Seasons team dominated both the bar and shuffleboard table. Other tables downed whiskey drinks and shots of Ramazzotti. And the crowd discovered Newman's favorite new cocktail: Drawn and Quartered. Which is how we all felt the next morning.