Acclaimed Chef Chris Kajioka has spent time in some of the world’s highest rated fine-dining restaurants. Now back home in Hawaii, he is the mastermind behind The Westin Maui’s newest restaurant waicoco. Let’s get to know this Chef who boasts an impressive list of awards and accolades while maintaining his humble local roots.
What’s your favorite hanabata (childhood) eats?
Do you remember the KC Drive-In ‘ono ono shake’? It was a peanut butter and vanilla shake. I grew up in Kaimuki, so the drive-in was right down the road and we always had to have a waffle dog and an ono ono shake. That is definitely something that I crave now.
What are your favorite eats on Maui?
Sam Satos for sure and I love Sheldon’s (Simeon) Tin Roof. There is nothing fancy about Sam Sato’s but as a chef we love that it is homemade food you know just like home. And I love everything Sheldon makes as he is a really talented chef.
What would you say is your favorite dish that your mom makes?
My mom makes a really good meatloaf! Her meatloaf is incredible and that is definitely one of the things that if it were my last meal her meatloaf would be on it.
What is your favorite dish from Thomas Keller?
Oh that is of course the Oysters & Pearls — the most classic! You just need to put it in your mouth and you will understand it is the best caviar dish, top 5 of my life. It is how he plays with textures and luxury. It truly is such a genius dish. It’s just so good.
What would you say is your favorite seafood to eat?
Crab, if I can afford it King Crab, prepared Chinese-style with salt and pepper. There’s a place in San Francisco I try to go there when I am in town and they serve the best crab.
What makes Kaanapali special to you?
To me Kaanapali just has a different feeling. While in Kaanapali — it seems you step out of the restaurant and you have the ocean right there in front of you. It feels like Hawaii, you know? And for me coming once a week from Honolulu, a metropolitan city at this point… It is a treat as you get to see the whales, you see the people there and their minds blown with Kaanapali. I think we take it for granted that we live here and every once in a while we need to appreciate it.