Last summer Honolulu Magazine ran a great food story—Martha Cheng’s “The Boys Are Back in Town,” about island-born chefs returning to Hawai‘i. One of them was Chris Kajioka, who until December was the chef de cuisine at Roy’s Waikiki, and who at one time was chef de partie at Thomas Keller’s fabled Per Se in New York. The article talked about him returning to Hawai‘i from the mainland because he was excited “about what was brewing in the food scene in Honolulu.” Seven months later, Kajioka left on a jet plane—to be sous chef at Aziza in San Francisco. After two years in Honolulu, he realized the city just wasn’t ready for what he what he wants to do.
In November, I had the good luck to sample Kajioka’s talent at an off-the-menu dinner at Roy’s Waikiki, arranged by Hank’s Haute Dogs impresario Henry Adaniya and the savvy food blogger behind Ono Kine Grindz. Then on Dec. 27, Kajioka went to San Francisco where he had a slew of interviews set up, including with Dominique Crenn for her new spot Atelier Crenn. He was offered more than one job. He made his pick and was gone in a couple of weeks. Kajioka’s departure is a loss.
I caught up with him by phone in December and at a going-away pau hana at Izakaya Sushi Shinn shortly before he left. Continue reading “The boy has left town: Chris Kajioka lands at SF’s Aziza”