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Food & Dining // Food & Beverage Focus
Jo McGarry

Eric Leterc

Jo McGarry photo

Executive Chef, The Pacific Club

You were born and raised in France, but have been in Hawaii for 22 year. Anything you still miss about the food from home? Yes, there still are some things – baguettes, cheese, steak tartare … I don’t know what it is, but when you go home, your appetite is just so much bigger, and you want to eat all these good things!

The Pacific Club has just undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation. Your kitchen must be one of the biggest and best in Honolulu. It’s great to have such a big kitchen to work in. And while it was a learning process to do such a major renovation, it works so much better for the staff now.

How do you describe The Pacific Club menu? The theme of my food has always been “fresh,” so it’s lots of fresh, locally grown produce and fish. Quality ingredients are the key to any good menu, so we focus on the ingredients first.

You’re a big supporter of culinary students and encourage them to be creative. Yes, whatever I can do to help students, I do. They gain confidence, I think, when they come here. They know we trust them to do well.

You’re taking part this year in The Good Table (thegoodtable.org) a fundraiser for Lanakila Meals on Wheels. Is your “table” for members only? No, that’s the great thing about the fundraiser. It’s open to the public, so anyone can go online and bid for our table. We will have one table for six people available at 6 p.m. Oct. 3.

Any idea of the menu you’ll serve? I think perhaps a tasting menu of some of our best dishes served with wine pairings. And, of course, I want to improvise a little based on the ingredients we have that day.

I’ve heard chefs say many times that at a private club you don’t have one boss, you have hundreds of them. Is it hard to satisfy everyone’s culinary demands? It can be a little challenging (laughs) but I think that communication is key. If you know what people want, listen to them, speak to them, go out into the dining room and ask them about the food, then it’s not really difficult to know what they want. Although you do have to be diplomatic!

Favorite restaurant? Right now, it’s Vino. Its fresh food, handmade pasta, reasonable prices, good quality, great wine – and it’s just down the street, so it’s great for when I finish work. Keith Endo does a great job. We need more restaurants like Vino in Hawaii.

With whom would you most like to have dinner? I enjoy talking to business leaders and people who make a difference in our community. There are plenty of opportunities to do that at The Pacific Club. Last night I spent a long time talking to two astronauts – one who had been to the moon, and one who will be the next man on the moon. We discussed how to possibly make the food in space better.

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