Course Correction 4: The next step

EdI never imagined a year ago that I would be where I am. I clearly can recall opening Highway Inn Kaka‘ako, but now it’s time for me to leave Highway Inn to pursue new endeavors, so I’m in the process of opening another restaurant.

When I embarked on my journey back to the kitchen, I developed what I call my “Ohshet Program.” Essentially, whenever I experienced something that made me uncomfortable enough to say, “Ohshet,” I would run away from it. Because of this flight program, I’ve passed on many great opportunities.

Recently, I’ve learned to change the way I react. I now recognize that when something I’m doing is scaring me a little, it’s worth doing. And my program is definitely firing like crazy.

kitchen013I love the atmosphere and people who are part of the Highway Inn ohana, and while there, I was able to create some waves. I will always be grateful to Monica Toguchi for taking a chance on me after my accident, when no one else would. Now, however, I’ll be leaving the relative safety of an established restaurant and stake my reputation on something I built. An amazing opportunity is before me, and I’m taking it.

Even as I write this, the same feelings of, “Am I good enough?” cause me to question my self worth. But looking back at my experiences at Highway Inn remind me to push forward.

krug 2The things I have in my life now were incomprehensible a year ago, so as the new year approaches, I wonder what exactly 2015 has in store for me? Yes the risk is great, however, nothing worth doing is ever easy. As for my new adventure, more info to come.



Our Top 5: Pumpkin desserts

Despite being unofficially referred to as, “Turkey Day,” one thing that’s just as integral to Thanksgiving dinner is the ubiquitous pumpkin pie.

About a month ago, someone asked me for recommendations on where to get the best pumpkin pie, but I honestly didn’t have an answer, since I usually bake my own. This prompted my search for the best pumpkin desserts in town, and here is my Top 5 list.

No. 5: Anna Miller's pumpkin pie

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No doubt Anna Miller's pumpkin pie ($10.60) belonged on this list, however, it made it just barely.

I've had a long love-hate relationship with Anna Miller's pies. Overall, the fillings are great. The pumpkin pie, for instance, is light and creamy; it's the sweetest filling of the pumpkin treats on my list, yet not overpowering. But my issue is with Anna Miller's pie crust. It's not of the flaky variety normally associated with pie. Instead it's crumbly, which would be okay if it was consistent. I've had Anna Miller's pies, for example, where the crust was so crumbly it fell apart. But of the pies on this list, it's the only one baked in an oven, which provides bottom heat and ensures that the crust is cooked through and golden brown on the bottom.

Anna Miller's
98-115 Kaonohi St.

Want more of Our Top 5

Here’s our full roundup of Our Top 5 picks

Party pics: 2014 EuroCinema Awards

It was a big night of cinema at the 2014 EuroCinema Awards, held Saturday night at the Moana Surfrider. The gala event celebrated its fifth anniversary with the “Imitation Game” taking top honors for Best Film, Morten Tyldum for Best Director, and Benedict Cumberbatch winning Best Actor for his portrayal of English mathematician and World War II codebreaker, Alan Turing.

But the biggest star of the night was Annabelle Roberts, who had her wish granted by Make-A-Wish Hawaii to attend a red carpet event. Roberts made her grand entrance amid cheers and camera flashes, and even joined “Maleficent” Prince Phillip, Brenton Thwaites on stage to accept his Rising Star award. Here’s a look at the festivities:

2014 EuroCinema Awards

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Photo by Ed Morita

Glenfiddich 50 Year Old comes to Hawaii

Photo by Ed MoritaIn an exclusive private uncorking event this week, Vintage Cave introduced the newest addition to its prestigious list of offerings — gourmet food, fine wine and now one of the most expensive bottles of whisky in the world. Retailing at $30,000 a bottle, the Glenfiddich 50 Year Old is considered the crown jewel of the William Grant & Son’s catalog of spirits.

The bottle now at Vintage Cave is one of only six allotted for the United States, and is the first bottle ever to be sold in Hawaii. It is part of the fourth release (the first being in 2009) of second vatting of Glenfiddich 50 Year Old single malt whisky. A total of 450 bottles were made, of which 50 bottles will be release every year between 2009-2017.

Each bottle is hand blown and decorated with sterling sliver, while the box is individually hand stitched. The cost to taste this one-of-a-kind whisky? A mere $6,000 a shot.

In terms of taste, it’s one of the best whiskeys I’ve tried. The flavor of this whiskey differs slightly from the newer releases. Because of World War II, charcoal was in short supply, so the grains for the whiskey were smoked with peat. The result is a peaty aroma, with a smooth flavor owing to the long aging process. However, the extravagance of the 50 Year Old is beyond my comprehension. There are other things I would rather spend $6K on, like perhaps a case of the 21 year, or a trip to the distillery in Scottland.

Here are photos from the tasting:

Glenfiddich 50 Year

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The legacy of Master Chef Peter Timmins

10440933_10203055829613200_168145962997397438_nIt is said that the measure of a leader is how many leaders they create. A prime example of this is in the life of Master Chef Peter Timmins. Based on the number of leaders Timmins created during his 40-year career, a giant of the industry has passed from this world.

Last week, word of Timmins’ death sent reverberations through the industry, particularly among chefs who worked under him at The Greenbrier Resort & Spa in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

DSC01205During his tenure there, Timmins oversaw one of the most prestigious culinary apprenticeship programs in the United States. Among its graduates are Hawaii Food & Wine Festival regulars Mark Noguchi, chef owner of the Lunch Box and Bocuse d’Or competitor Richard Rosendale.

I had the privilege of working under Timmins when I was at The Greenbrier from 2001-2003. I will never forget my time there.

So often, I hear the media misuse the title Master Chef. Few outside of the industry realize that Master Chef is an accreditation that requires chefs to under go an intense examination process. Timmins was one of only 60 chefs in the world to achieve this coveted title.

photo“Chef T was very serious and demanding, but he also had a stern and sneaky sense of humor,” says Arin Antonio, Chef at Hoakalei Country Club and 2007 graduate of The Greenbrier apprenticeship program. “Chef T was probably the most intelligent individual that I have ever met. His array of classical cooking techniques and diversity was simply untouchable. An example of this was when we had a sophomore appetizer showing and I created a scallop and smoked lomilomi salmon with a citrus whipped ‘cloud’. All my peers and sous chefs only concern was the smoked lomilomi salmon (because they had no idea what it was). Chef T immediately stopped everyone and explained the lomilomi, including its deeper origin and all of a sudden the whole dish made sense. I was in awe, as he had already known what this island favorite was and put it under a spotlight for everyone to see.”

DSC00839The one thing that I most vividly recall about Timmins will always be his piercing stare. Noguchi recalls when he came under his gaze on his second day of work. “I was working as roast station assist and in the sh**s with plating goat cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes,” he said. “Plesh (the executive sous chef) is yelling at me, so chef Timmins walks over to me and asks what’s wrong… ‘Sorry chef… It’s my ADD.’”

Noguchi remembers how Timmons placed his entire body in front of him and said, “That’s sh**, I’ve got ADD! Wanna know why ADD people make better cooks? Because we live our entire lives multitasking. Now get the f*** back to work.”

Noguchi pulled it together and finished serving 1,500 guests that night

IMG_0270As the above story demonstrates, Timmins not only held his cooks accountable, he held them capable. He was a stern taskmaster; however he genuinely cared for all of his cooks.

Executive chef Curtis Horka of Honolulu Coffee Co. remembers how Timmins taught his cooks that no one can make you be a chef; only you can make you a chef. “Chef Timmins wasn’t just about food,” he said. “He was a respected, commanding leader and a special kind of mentor. He was someone who you could go to having the worst day and leave feeling inspired and willing to endure more. He always had time to talk and genuinely cared that you always pushed yourself. If you wanted to keep growing then you can’t wait for a place or a person to give it to you; instead you need to find the opportunities to grow on your own and make it happen.”

Said Antonio: “He was also the most demanding and critical chef I have ever worked for. Chef T always used to say that if someone is in the way of your dreams and goals, run them over like a freight train and get what you want. I have lived my life this way ever since and I train my cooks to do the same.”

One phrase that Timmins always said to his cooks was, “push yourself.” I recall many times plating a banquet for several hundred people and hearing him say, “Push yourself chef!” It’s a phrase that chefs have spread throughout the industry as they progressed in their careers, and to this day, is a motto that I model my career by.

Push Yourself

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A reminder to myself at Highway Inn Kaka‘ako to always push myself.

Photo by Ed Morita“Every time you looked his way,” recalls Horka, “you would find him talking while surrounded by young chefs with ears and eyes wide open soaking in every inspiring word of culinary philosophy.”

During his career, Timmins made an impact on countless chefs who now run kitchens around the world.

You will be missed, Chef Timmins, however, your legacy of excellence will continue to spread throughout the industry through the lives you have touched and the chefs you helped to create.