Every year a healthy handful of Hawai‘i chefs, restaurateurs and wine professionals make it as James Beard Award semifinalists. And every year the final ballot is announced, and we (or those who follow this kind of thing anyway) let out a collective sigh when we see none of our hometown heroes have made it. Not this year—the James Beard Foundation announced the 2020 nominees yesterday … Continue reading Senia team makes it to James Beard Awards final ballot
While interviewing Senia co-chef Chris Kajioka about his new project Bar Māze last month, I learned even bigger news: “I’m opening a French bistro with Mourad in the Café Miró space.” Mourad is Mourad Lahlou, chef-owner of his eponymous restaurant in San Francisco, and half of the city’s It Couple, with San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Mathilde Froustey. I think I just looked at Kajioka, … Continue reading Chris Kajioka teams with Mourad Lahlou to open Honolulu’s only French bistro
Pretend it’s Sept. 28, 2011. Please? Cause that’s when I did this interview with island-grown chef Chris Kajioka and Mourad Lahlou, chef-owner of vaunted, Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant Aziza. OK, the time travel starts…now. SINCE CHRIS KAJIOKA joined Mourad Lahlou’s San Francisco resaurant Aziza in January 2011, the contemporary Moroccan spot has become a sort of pilgrimage stop for Hawai‘i eaters and cooks. And Kajioka … Continue reading Mourad Lahlou loves Kaua‘i shrimp (and Chris Kajioka)
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”