Alicia G. Antonio
Friday - November 21, 2008 Share Del.icio.us | Podcast | WineAndDineHawaii.com
Restaurant Manager, Bali by the Sea, Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa.
Where were you born and raised?
What started your interest in the food and beverage world?
My family had a catering business and I was exposed to the food business at an early age. I moved to Hawaii to go to University of Hawaii Travel Industry Management school, and during that time I was in an internship program at The Kahala Hilton’s front desk. The general manager suggested I try the food and beverage department.
How did you come to start working at Bali by The Sea?
I moved to Bali by The Sea when Kahala closed 13 years ago for renovation. My intention was to stay for a year, but I enjoyed working with the Bali staff so much, I never left.
How do you describe the restaurant to someone who’s never been?
Bali is a great restaurant in so many ways: There’s a very caring staff, we have a young and talented culinary team led by Francois Bugard and Chef Roberto Los Banos, and our setting is very lovely. It’s romantic, oceanfront and we even have fireworks on Friday evenings. And we’ve just received the AAA 4 Diamond Award for the 20th year in a row!
What’s your favorite dish on the menu?
I love our seafood duo - it’s a combination of ahi and kampachi - the appetizer sampler, rack of lamb ... Oops, you only asked for one dish!
So many famous people have dined at Bali. Anyone memorable for you?
I think Ted Turner, he was so gracious. He was very caring to his grandchildren. I was off when President-elect Obama came last year. Just a party of four - no fanfare, no secret service. As the staff said: One year makes a lot of difference. I hope he visits us again, and I’ll make sure I’m working.
What’s the secret to great service?
Anticipation - being two steps ahead of your guests’ needs. And you have to love what you do. You can’t fake it.
What advice would you give someone beginning in the hospitality industry?
Work hard and be passionate about what you do. Learn the business, start from the bottom. I have been blessed with groups of people I have worked with over the years who are all winners. At the Kahala in 1990, The Maile restaurant won the AAA’s highest accolade - the first 5 Diamond Award for a restaurant in Hawaii.
Best part of the job?
Meeting people and eating the best food.
Have you ever eaten a Bali by The Sea signature chocolate Diamond Head crater?
A whole one? Yes, of course! I love chocolate!
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