Jayson Kanekoa

Jo McGarry photo

Executive Sous Chef, Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

Where were you born and raised? Kukuihaele, on the ridge of Waipio Valley on Hawaii Island.

First memory of food/cooking? The first thing I remember is my grandpa, Samuel Mock Chew, cooking for me.

What started your interest in the culinary arts, and where was your first job? I think the interest was definitely started by my Grandpa Samuel. My first job was at the former Sheraton Waikoloa in 1986, which is now Waikoloa Beach Marriott.

How would you describe your style of food? Hawaii fusion.

If you had your own restaurant, it would be … Upscale Hawaiian local cuisine.

With whom would you most like to have dinner? President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in the White House. It would be great to chat with them, but it would be nice to cook for them, too.

Some of your favorite Big Island restaurants? Hawaiian Style Cafe Waimea and Roy’s Waikoloa.

Leaving the world of fine dining behind for a moment, what’s your favorite dish? Poke and poi.

Do you cook at home? Yes.

What’s always in your fridge? Milk, eggs, dried ebi, kim chee and daikon. Can you tell us about the Seed to Table Chef Shuttle? We have a Seed to Table Chef Shuttle at the hotel, where we take guests to the farms, markets and ranches in Waimea, and then we bring them back to the hotel to cook dinner with us at night. It’s always incredible cooking with fresh, local ingredients from our farms and sharing that with guests.

Most memorable food moments? Building an imu in my backyard to make kalua pig with Canadian chef Michael Smith. And prepping wild boar in Polulu Valley for a BBC America reality TV show with top chefs, called No Kitchen Required.