HRA: Chefs of Aloha

Each year, the Hawaii Restaurant Association’s Annual Hall of Fame induction event also features a “Chefs of Aloha Dine-Around.” This gala benefits a scholarship fund for Island students who are aspiring chefs and food-service professionals. A group of distinguished chefs prepared cuisine for the 2009 event. They are: 

Dennis Franks, Senior executive chef of Big City Diner restaurants. Franks’s signature cooking style is “multi-ethnic Hawaiian cuisine. It’s about using local ingredients, adding the flavors of Hawaii that we love, bringing out the natural flavor of ingredients while preserving the quality and freshness, and finally, presenting it as art.” Under his direction, the Big City five-restaurant chain has consistently received awards.

Rodhel Ibay, Chef, Sergio’s Italian Table.  Ibay has been a chef for 16 years, and began his training at Gros Bonnet Culinary School. He received additional training at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and has worked with top Island chefs, such as Russell Siu. Chef Rodhel and his culinary team focus on bringing flavorful affordable authentic Italian cuisine to Hawaii.

Ronnie Nasuti
Executive chef, Roy’s Restaurant Hawaii Kai.  Ronnie Nasuti started his career as a dishwasher at age 14 and has been working in restaurants ever since. His advice to aspiring chefs? “Be sure you love it whole-heartedly. If you don’t, you won’t make it. If you do, it will be a more than gratifying experience and career choice.”   

Goran Streng  Chef/owner, Tango Contemporary Cafe.  A native of Finland, Streng graduated from the Helsinki Hotel and Restaurant School and has traveled widely, giving him a multiethnic epicurean education, coupled with a firm background in classic cuisine. Streng received certification as a food-and-beverage executive by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Motel Association.

Alan Takasaki, Chef/owner, Le Bistro.  Takasaki’s cozy Niu Valley restaurant reflects his lifetime of travel and culinary study. He began his career at Le Jardin Restaurant in New Orleans. He trained under Gilbert Le Coze at the four-star Le Bernardin, among others, and also worked at a number of restaurants in Europe.

Khamtan Tanhchaleun, Executive chef, Hawaii Prince.  Tanhchaleun has trained and worked in Los Angeles, Montreal and Chicago, and brings to Hawaii a blend of Eurasian cuisine with an emphasis on freshness and quality of ingredients. He believes that service should always be the cornerstone of any restaurant experience.

Tony Vierra, Executive chef and partner, Grand Cafe & Bakery.  Vierra graduated from California Culinary Academy, worked at Black Cat in San Francisco and the award-winning 231 Ellsworth restaurant in San Mateo. Returning to Hawaii in 2001, Anthony has been the sous chef at 12th Avenue Grill, The W and Mermaid Bar. He now uses his talents at the restaurant his great-grandfather started in 1923.