Dena Selene Togafau

Jo McGarry
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Friday - March 14, 2008 Share | | podcast Podcast |

Dena Selene Togafau
Dena Selene Togafau

Age: 40

Occupation: Catering manager, Kakaako Kitchen

Where were you born and raised? Born in Huntington Beach, Calif., and raised in Carson, Calif.

What got you interested in the food and beverage industry?

I’d learned to cook at an early age, but when I was first introduced to fine dining in my early 20s, I was so amazed at the whole process - from the selection of ingredients to the mastery of cooking it to the art of the presentation. Once I learned about food and wine pairings, I was hooked.

You’ve worked on Lanai and also extensively in Vegas - two seemingly different places. Do they have anything in common?

Yes, the clients are very similar. While I was on Lanai, the king and queen of Malaysia visited, as did the Schwarzeneggers, Hillary Swank and Chad Lowe. A lot of sports heroes stay on Lanai, like Joe Montana, John Elway and Troy Aiken ... and, of course, Bill Gates. You see the same very wealthy clients in Vegas, too.

What’s the most fun thing about the Vegas food-and-wine scene?

There are millions (it seems) of really great places to dine in Vegas. I think the best part is that it’s such a glamorous city, and it has so much history and fame. It’s a great place to be entertained.

Favorite places to eat in Honolulu?

Kakaako Kitchen, of course! d.k Kodama’s (their rib eye is to die for), Nick’s Fishmarket, Hau Tree Lanai, Genki Sushi, Zippy’s and JulieZ (a family-owned Filipino restaurant in Kapolei).

Favorite dish on the menu at Kakaako Kitchen?

The Chicken Linguini, all the way. I eat it almost every day without fail. It’s awesome!!

Best tip for a successful party at home?

You must have great food. People are always happy when they eat good food. Hosts and hostesses must be upbeat and hospitable, and most of all just have a great time.

Whose party would you most like to cater?

I think, because I’m one for challenges, I would love to create an event for Colin Cowie. He’s one of the most-famous event coordinators in the world, and I love his work. I met him and worked with him on Lanai when he created a very elaborate wedding at The Lodge at Koele. I’ll never forget that experience.


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