Kevin Chong

Jo McGarry
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Friday - February 08, 2008 Share | | podcast Podcast |

Kevin Chong
Kevin Chong

Title: Chef de cuisine, Chef Mavro restaurant

Age: 31

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Korea and came to Honolulu when I was a year old.

What first interested you in the restaurant business?

When I was 14, I had a job at a Chinese takeout place on King Street as a cashier. I started to help the cook after he told me to make my own food if I was hungry. But I didn’t think about cooking seriously as a career.

There’s a nice story I heard about you taking your girlfriend on a very expensive dinner date.

I went to La Mer to impress my high school girlfriend, and at the time Chef Mavro was working there. That was when I realized that I wanted cooking to be my career. From there I went to KCC and then on to the Culinary Institute of America.

Any mentors in the industry?

Chef Mavro, of course, and in the late 1990s Sottha Khun, the executive chef at Le Cirque in New York City, was my “master.”

How do you describe the food at Chef Mavro?

Contemporary regional.

Your favorite dish on the menu right now?

Everything ... but maybe the ahi appetizer. It’s cured and seared with eggplant, capers and chives, marinated with white balsamic vinegar and a fennel-lemon sauce.

What’s your favorite time of day in the kitchen?

I love the beginning of my day, the peacefulness of it when I’m alone in the kitchen and I get to filet the fish. When I was executive chef at Le Cirque, I didn’t get to touch the food because I was busy managing people. But now, in this small restaurant, I get to do what I love.

Do you cook at home?


What’s always in your fridge?

I don’t know because my wife, Adriana (a noted expert on Mexican cuisine), does the cooking at home.

Where do you like to eat when you’re not working?

I like my wife’s cooking best: enchiladas with all kinds of delicious types of filling.

Anyone you’d like to see come to Chef Mavro for dinner?

I’d like to see Sottha Kuhn to show him how I’ve grown up.

Chef Mavro
1969 S. King Street


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