Friday - January 18, 2008 Share Del.icio.us | Podcast | WineAndDineHawaii.com
Occupation: Owner, Le Bistro
Where did you go to school? Kaiser High School
How did you get interested in the restaurant business?
I started in high school washing dishes in this restaurant, The House of Happiness, in Hawaii Kai. It was where Zippy’s is now. All the high school kids used to work there washing dishes.
Did that inspire you to venture into the business?
Well, it was more what did I have to do not to wash dishes. And I wasn’t very good at anything else. I tried busing, but I was just terrible. I went to culinary school at KCC for a while, but I had to work to support myself, so scheduling was hard.
You started working at some pretty amazing restaurants quite quickly in your career.
Yes. I went to New Orleans and started work at the Hotel Iberville, then on to New York to the Intercontinental, and to Le Bernadin and Le Truffe Noir and Q.V.
Did you know that Le Bernadin would become so famous when you first worked there?
No, we got our butts kicked at first. I thought, ‘Oh no, why did I come here?’ It was brutal - like those TV reality shows, but worse.
And then after a stint in Europe working with some great chefs, you came back to Hawaii.
Yes, I was really just waiting for a job promise to come through in Milan, but then I met my wife and decided to stay here.
Timing in your career has been interesting. You opened Le Bistro in 2001, 10 days before 9/11.
Yes, it was certainly interesting timing. I didn’t want to open the doors on the day after 9/11 but I did, and people came out and supported us. Years later they told me they felt sorry for us (smile), but I’m grateful that people gave us a chance during that difficult time.
Anyone you’d love to see come to Le Bistro for dinner?
Actually, it sort of happens now. Jim Nabors comes in, and when I was young watching him on TV I always thought he was the greatest guy. Sometimes I just look at my wife and think how amazing it is that I have a restaurant where Gomer Pyle comes for dinner.
Any favorite restaurants?
A ton of them, really. Anybody who can do business in Hawaii, I respect them for that. It’s hard work, and I know how much people put into it.
Are you plate lunch or fine dining?
In Honolulu I just want to be comfortable, so I’m definitely more plate lunch than fine dining. Anywhere we can take our two young daughters to eat and feel comfortable is where we want to be.
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