The Boys are Back in Town

A wave of Island chefs headed to the Mainland for training. What will happen now that they’re home?

“My dream restaurant is a counter,” says Chris  Kajioka.

“It’s just a counter. You’re going to sit, I’m going to ask how hungry you are, and I’m just going to cook for you … I don’t like when people have to choose. Just trust me and I’ll cook for you. That’s every chef’s dream.”

Watching Kajioka, the chef de cuisine at Roy’s, cook is the same experience as listening to him speak: he’s all determination and confidence. He’s roasting squab, slicing perfect squares of pork belly and searing sweetbreads for renowned wine collector Tawfiq Khoury’s 80th birthday dinner, keeping the venerable crowd of Roy’s corporate chefs and Roy Yamaguchi himself in his peripheral attention. At this moment, the only thing that’s important to him is browning the sweetbreads. One of the servers describes Kajioka’s look as dour; perhaps it’s more the look of someone who knows exactly what he’s going for.

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2 thoughts on “The Boys are Back in Town

  1. Hi Martha – I am not one who eats at fine dining restaurants regularly, maybe once a year. But I must say I thoroughly enjoyed reading, “The Boys are Back in Town.” As an artist myself, I could identify with the struggles chefs face when they want to express their creativity only to be fettered by what the market dictates. The sphere of fine dining chefs is so far from my sphere, it was a bit surprising how much I got “sucked into” this article. I always knew great chefs are truly great artists, but I gained an even greater respect for what they do because of your piece. Perhaps I should tip my hat to these artists a little more often, sacrifice a few “manufactured” eats here and there, and check these venues out. I look forward to seeing your byline more often. All the best – Ruth

    1. Thanks Ruth for your kind words, and I do hope that you’ll get a chance to taste these chefs’ food at some point! Aloha, Martha

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