World Chefs: Yamaguchi shines light on evolution in Hawaiian cuisine

Tue Jun 3, 2014 12:55pm EDT
 
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Award-winning chef Roy Yamaguchi wants to showcase the modern Hawaiian cuisine he helped pioneer more than 20 years ago and to share the spotlight with the next generation of chefs.

The Tokyo native, who is based in Hawaii, is known for his blending of classic techniques with Hawaiian and Asian ingredients. Yamaguchi's original restaurant, Roy's, won acclaim, and he has since opened almost another 30 Roy's restaurants around the world.

Yamaguchi started the annual Hawaii Food and Wine Festival four years ago with chef Alan Wong to raise awareness about the state's fledging food scene and fresh interpretations of taro, a tropical Asian plant, and other native ingredients.

At this year's event from Aug. 29 to Sept. 7, Hawaiian chefs will cook side-by-side with mainland U.S. and international colleagues to promote Hawaii as a food destination.

Yamaguchi, 58, spoke about the evolution of Hawaiian cuisine and the role of local chefs with farmers and fishermen.

Q: What is the new group of Hawaiian chefs doing?

A: Not everyone is doing what Alan Wong and I did 20 years ago. What you are seeing is more diversity in restaurants today than before. Some of them are doing their Mexican-theme restaurants. Some of them are doing casual Mediterranean. They are doing what they are comfortable with whether you are a native Hawaiian or Polynesian, Chinese or Japanese, Vietnamese or Korean or Filipino. They all make up what Hawaii is today.

Q: Are there any misconceptions about Hawaiian cuisine?   Continued...

 
Chef Roy Yamaguchi is seen in a picture courtesy of Ed Morita taken in Maui, Hawaii September 2, 2013. Yamaguchi wants to showcase the modern Hawaiian cuisine he helped pioneer more than 20 years ago and to share the spotlight with the next generation of chefs.  REUTERS/
Ed Morita/edmorita@me.com/Handout via Reuters   (UNITED STATES - Tags: PROFILE FOOD SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS