MASTER Chefs OF KAUA‘I
Story by Jon Letman
(FROM L-R) ; BARACUDA; ROY’S; KAUAI GRILL
Occasionally one reads it on a bumper sticker, other times on a t-shirt. The place names
vary a bit but the message is the same: New York, London, Paris, Tokyo…Lïhu‘e. It’s the
chuckle one is supposed to get seeing a relatively unknown small town juxtaposed beside the
world’s leading cities for art, culture and cuisine.
Of course you expect to find the world’s top restaurants and chefs in world-class cities like
Paris or Tokyo, but not in Hawai‘i… and most definitely not on little Kaua‘i, right? Wrong.
Forget about the misconception that Hawai‘i’s small towns offer nothing but Styrofoam
containers filled with mac salad, teri-beef bentos, Spam musubi and calorie-laden loco moco.
Not that you can’t find those local favorites anywhere, but even Kaua‘i, or perhaps especially
Kaua‘i, has attracted more than its share of top caliber chefs who don’t simply “raise the bar”
but actually remove the bar, bringing quality dining to the Garden Island that is clearly in a
class of its own.
Where else, in a community of just 65,000, can you find restaurants run by half a dozen
chefs who include multiple James Beard Foundation “Best Chef” nominees and winners
(including the first winner in Hawai‘i), “Best Restaurant” award recipients and well-known
names in Pacific and Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine like Roy Yamaguchi, Peter Merriman and
Jean-Marie Josselin? Respected, successful restaurateurs from the San Francisco Bay area
(Jim Moffat) and successful younger chefs like Ken Lum and Colin Hazama have opened
their own restaurants on Kaua‘i and oversee kitchens in the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and
Spa and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Kauai Grill at The St. Regis Princeville Resort.
Spotlighting the island’s freshest local ingredients and Hawaiian-caught and raised fish,
seafood and beef, with an increasingly strong focus on island-grown products, these six highly
regarded chefs bring over a century of accumulated knowledge, experience and skill in preparing dishes that range from exquisite to simply wonderful. If ever there was a time to come
to Kaua‘i to eat, it is now. So New York, London, Paris, Tokyo—bon appétit to you, but this
year, I’ll be dining on Kaua‘i, thank you.