Not Your Ordinary Potluck

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - August 02, 2006
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(from left) Jackie Lau, Kim Gennaula, Roy Yamaguchi, George Szigeti, Guy Hagi, Alan Wong, Dean Okimoto and Rainer Kumbroch
(from left) Jackie Lau, Kim Gennaula, Roy Yamaguchi,
George Szigeti, Guy Hagi, Alan Wong, Dean Okimoto and
Rainer Kumbroch

Potluck is one of the most popular ways to celebrate an occasion in Hawaii. Asking friends to come over and “bring something” usually guarantees an evening of good food. But what if the person throwing the party is Greg Gomes, president of Advantage Webco, the guest of honor is Roy Yamaguchi, and the folks contributing to the potluck include Alan Wong, D.K. Kodama, Russell Siu, Colin Nishida and Hiroshi Fukui?

Potluck doesn’t really cover it.

But while the wines may have been on the finer side, and the guest list a who’s who of Honolulu, the food was strictly local kine grindz. While Roy’s restaurants may number more than 30 worldwide, when he comes home to Hawaii, he just wants to eat local kine food.

It helps, of course, in throwing the ultimate potluck, if you can get the kind of organizational direction Lori Chang, Webco division manager, brings to the table. “It took a lot to organize,” she says, laughing. “But I’ve done a few of these now, and they get easier.”

Chang’s list of “potluckers” included some of my favorite mom-and-pop eateries: Mei Sum in Chinatown (where the dim sum is unrivalled for both quality and diversity) provided gorgeous little seafood bundles, there was some excellent pipikaula, fried mandoo and kau yuk with taro (from Asia Mano), and one of the hits of the party was a sensational oxtail soup. Sushi lovers flocked to D.K. Kodama’s sushi bar where he created individual hand rolls for all.

Alan Wong brought a splendid rack of lamb - enough to remind us this was no ordinary potluck. Kakaako Kitchen, home of the gourmet plate lunch, was represented by chef/owner Russell Siu, who made an incredibly simple but absolutely addictive crispy pork sandwich in a bau bun, and his meatloaf sandwich was another huge hit.

Jackie Lau (Roy’s) took a rare night off to enjoy the fun, while Roy’s executive chef Ronnie Nasuti remained hard at work - but happy - in the kitchen.

And just when you thought you couldn’t eat another thing, the stainless steel lids came off chaffing dishes to reveal one of the city’s most irresistible culinary delights. Side Street’s famous fried rice and yakisoba noodles. Amid glasses of Perrier Jouet champagne and Tudor Pinot Noir, guests enjoyed a spectacular and unusual pairing with Nishida’s favorites.

But what do you drink when you’ve got a who’s who of culinary life at your party? Ask George Szigeti to bring a few of his favorite beers and wines. Szigeti, VP of Better Brands, created a spectacular ice luge using a rare 6-liter bottle of Ketel One Vodka. “We brought some spectacular wines tonight - the hit of the party seems to be Tudor Pinot Noir and, of course, the Ketel One ice luge,” said George.

Szigeti admits he doesn’t drag the towering bottle of vodka with him to many parties “Next time we create an ice luge will probably be at the Sony Open,” he says.

So next time you’re thinking of calling a few friends and having a potluck, you might want to see if Greg Gomes or Lori Chang are free. They’ve got some pretty impressive contacts in the culinary world - and they surely know a thing or two about what makes a great party!

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