Cooking with Chef Alan Wong – Master of Hawaii Regional Cuisine


Cooking with Chef Alan Wong – Master of Hawaii Regional Cuisine

October 3, 2013

Recently, we had the pleasure of having Hawaii’s Chef Alan Wong, President of Alan Wong’s Restaurants, cruise with us aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin’s  7-night Tahiti & the Society Islands itinerary. 

A week before he sailed, he was inducted to the prestigious American Academy of Chefs (AAC) Culinary Hall of Fame as its 2013 Celebrated Chef.  This honor recognizes individuals “for their outstanding achievements in the culinary industry” and was presented at the American Culinary Federation (ACF) National Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Past inductees include Cat Cora (2012), Charlie Palmer (2010), Charlie Trotter (2008), and Thomas Kellar (2007).

A renowned master of Hawaii Regional Cuisine and James Beard Award winner, Chef Wong has made a highly successful career out of marrying elements of different ethnic cooking styles using the finest Island-grown ingredients. As his Asian roots combine with his French culinary background, east and west cuisines do not merely meet—they meld.

During the voyage, our guests enjoyed a lecture from Chef Wong along with a culinary demonstration and sampling of his signature ‘Ahi Poke Stack with Avocado Salsa, Crispy Won Ton and Wasabi Soy from his bestselling cookbookThe Blue Tomato.

To view a video from the sailing featuring an interview with Chef Wong by Michael Shapiro, The Gauguin’s Cruise Director, and highlights from the culinary demonstration, click here

To try the delicious ‘Ahi Poke Stack with Avocado Salsa, Crispy Won Ton and Wasabi Soy dish that our guests learned to make on board the sailing, we have included the recipe below.

Chef Wong began his career with an apprenticeship at The Greenbrier Hotel, then accepted a position at Lutece in New York City. There, his mentor, Chef Andre Soltner, emphasized the importance of being a “skilled craftsman” and “cooking with two feet on the ground.” These words remain with Chef Wong in all aspects of his work as he guides and nurtures his staff. In 1989, he opened The Canoe House Restaurant at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows and subsequently participated in every “Cuisines of the Sun” event held there for twelve years.

Two years later, he and eleven other chefs organized a group determined to work with local farmers, fishermen, and ranchers. Hawaii Regional Cuisine (HRC) was born. The culinary movement helped to establish Hawaii as a place to experience unique ethnic-inspired cuisines made with fresh, local products. Chef Wong has won many accolades throughout his illustrious career. In 1994, he was named one of 13 Rising Star Chefs in America by the Robert Mondavi Winery, and he is a James Beard Award winner for Best Chef, Pacific Northwest 1996. Santé magazine for wine and spirits named him Chef of the Year 2001, and the Inaugural 2001Wedgewood Awards nominated him as one of 10 U.S. chefs for the title of World Master of Culinary Arts.

In 2003, Bon Appetit magazine recognized Chef Wong among its culinary legends as the “Master of Hawaii Regional Cuisine.” Fans of television’s Top Chef cooking competition might remember Chef Wong from his appearance as a guest judge in part one of the season-two finale that aired on January 24, 2007. The Top Chef contestants, after enjoying a luncheon hosted by Chef Wong welcoming them to Hawaii, were challenged to cater his birthday luau. The tables were turned in 2009, when it was Chef Wong who cooked a luau at the White House for President Obama at the annual White House Congressional picnic for members of Congress and their families.

Alan Wong’s Restaurant in Honolulu has also received numerous accolades since it opened in April 1995. In 1996, it received a James Beard Foundation nomination for the nation’s “Best New Restaurant,” and it was honored inGourmet magazine’s October 2001 issue, ranking #6 among “America’s  50 Best Restaurants.”  In 2002, it was inducted into Nation’s Restaurant News magazine’s Hall of Fame.

In its May 2006 issue, Food and Wine magazine included Alan Wong’s Restaurant among its “Go List of 376 Hottest Restaurants in the World,” and in that same year, it was again the only Hawaii restaurant to be ranked among “America’s 50 Best Restaurants” (#8) by Gourmet. The restaurant is a ten-time winner of the Hale Aina Award as the state’s “Restaurant of the Year.” Voted by the Ilima Awards as Hawaii’s “Best Restaurant” for nine years, Alan Wong’s Restaurant was inducted into its inaugural “Star Circle,” established for ten-time winners in 2008. Today, the restaurant continues to receive top ratings in ZagatGault Millau, and Wine Spectator.

For more information on Chef Alan Wong and Alan Wong’s Restaurants, please visit