NEWS: Chef Colin Hazama returns to Sheraton Waikiki


Colin Hazama, back at the Sheraton Waikiki as senior executive sous chef.

Courtesy Sheraton Waikiki

Colin Hazama looks like a kid. And (according to your perspective, I suppose) he is. He's not quite 30 yet.

Certainly he's young to have established the track record he brings back to the Sheraton Waikiki as its new senior executive sous chef.

Hazama cooked at Alan Wong's, Hoku's, Roy's and San Francisco's Gary Danko. He was the opening chef at the Sheraton's RumFire, where he put together a menu of Pacific Rim tapas that I still remember. Garlic chicken wraps with local baby romaine. Citrus scallops on hearts of palm and Asian pear.  

Best of all, his inside-out musubi, some topped with lavender-smoked ahi and others topped with kiawe-smoked beef and rice crackers. It's been three years since Biting Commentary has eaten them, but the memory lingers.

RumFire has since converted to a (terrible word) Bahawaiian menu, sort of a fusion between Northern Mexico and Hawaii ingredients. Rumor has it that the trouble with Hazama's menu was that people would come to eat, and RumFire is designed as a cocktail lounge.

From RumFire, Hazama went to Kauai Grill at the St. Regis Princeville. That was a Jean-George Vongerichten restaurant, and Hazama went to New York to train. "It was a learning experience to see those chefs put flavors together," he says.

The flavors were good: crispy poached eggs topped with crème fraîche and caviar (below). Foie gras and grilled mango. And Hazama's own grilled black pepper octopus. His work there made him a semifinalist for the James Beard Rising Chef award.

Hazama's replacement at Kauai Grill has not yet been named, but he's back on Oahu where he grew up, back at the Sheraton Waikiki. 

He replaces another hot young Sheraton chef, Ryan Loo, who has moved on to become executive chef of the W Hotel in Seattle.

Unfortunately, Hazama doesn't have a restaurant of his own at the moment. He's doing banquets and VIP functions, no doubt in anticipation of APEC in September.

"I'll have a restaurant of my own one of these days," he promises.  "Before I get too old." 

Not yet 30, and he already feels time's winged footsteps coming down the hall right behind him.

I'm not asking Sheraton to hand him a restaurant right away, but, please, could we bring back the inside-out musubi?


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