|From left to right: Jon Matsubara, Andrew Le, Chai Chaowasaree, Lee Anne Wong, Wade Ueoka and Sheldon Simeon|
Hawaiian Airlines and Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree recently announced the launch of a new inflight culinary program featuring specially-designed menu creations from five of Hawaii’s top chefs, including Jon Matsubara of Japengo; Lee Anne Wong of Koko Head Cafe; 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 Hawaii to the Mainland. Chai will continue to prepare menus for all Mainland flights returning to the islands.
The timeline for each guest chef includes:
June 1 – Nov. 30, 2015: Chef Jon Matsubara, Chef de Cuisine, Japengo Restaurant
Matsubara 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 Cafe
Since she traded her fashion career for the culinary world, 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 Hawaii regional cuisine, 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 Hawaii 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 Hawaii regional cuisine movement, 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, 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!”