REAL, a Gastropub
1020 Auahi St.
Where were you born and raised? I was born in Florida and grew up there.
My dad’s Tahitian – and a cook – so Hawaii seemed a natural place to come. I came to Honolulu about 15 years ago.
Nice food in your house, I would think. Yeah. My dad cooked Tahitian food, and the culinary style in Florida where we lived wasn’t unlike Hawaii’s, so when I came here I recognized the food right away.
Where did your restaurant experience in Hawaii start? I worked with Sam Choy for seven years opening his restaurants. It was a great experience and a really valuable time. After we’d opened all the restaurants, it seemed the time was right to branch out and do my own thing.
What’s the hardest thing about opening a restaurant? Right now I think it’s finding a location. We tried to do this for about three-and-a-half years, and I think lots of times we found places that would have been ideal but the surroundings were not ideal. It’s tough.
Does the business of running a business kill your passion as a chef, or does it fuel it? Running a business that combines your passion – like, for me, it’s beer and food – is mostly fabulous. It makes me giddy when I see a new beer and think about what we can do with the food. So I would say that doing your own thing could really fuel that passion.
You have 200 beers and a menu that changes. Anything that stands out right now? Our duck confit corn dog, which is meant to be fun. Chicken and Waffles is good, portobello cheesesteak, with mushrooms instead of steak for vegetarians, and the roasted beet salad is killing it – people love roasted beets. And duck fat fries.
Where do you like to go when you’re not working? I’m here all the time now! But we like going out to share the love, so Sunday we went to Aloha Beer Company and Wednesday we were at Pint and Jigger. It’s good to see what’s happening out there in this small city.
There’s been an explosion of beer interest across the country. I saw the passion people had for beer when I was working at Whole Foods. I knew people were ready for this kind of beer and food.
What kitchen utensil can you not be without? Food processor and VitaMix because we make all our own ketchups and mustard and pickles. It’s the kind of food you can’t do in a big restaurant, and it’s fun.
Who inspired you in the industry. I’ve had a lot of great mentors. Paul Ah Cook (when we worked at Sam Choy’s) was a big one, probably the biggest. And Sam Choy was a really important influence, too.