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Hawaiian Airlines New First Class Featured Chef Series

Hawaiian Airlines Announces New Featured Chef Series Showcasing Hawai‘i’s Newest Talent

HONOLULU – Hawaiian Airlines, the only U.S. domestic carrier offering complimentary meals to guests in all cabins, and Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree are proud to announce the launch of a new inflight culinary program featuring specially-designed menu creations from five of Hawai‘i’s burgeoning top chefs including: Jon Matsubara of Japengo; Lee Anne Wong of Koko Head Café; Wade Ueoka of MW Restaurant; Andrew Le of The Pig & The Lady; and Sheldon Simeon of Mala Wailea and MiGRANT.

Through 2017, dishes created by each local chef will be featured on a six month rotation in the First Class cabin of all flights from Hawai‘i to the Mainland. Chef Chai will continue to prepare menus for all Mainland flights returning to the islands. Together, this all-star line-up will give guests the opportunity to enjoy delicious regional, savory cuisine when traveling domestically.

“We are dedicated to creating an authentic Hawaiian experience, calling on the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the islands so our guests can begin their Hawai‘i journey from the moment they board the plane,” said Renee Awana, senior director of product development for Hawaiian Airlines. “The guest chef program represents Hawaiian’s continued support of local talent, giving our guests the opportunity to sample world-class dishes from rising stars in our dynamic culinary scene.”

Chef Jon Matsubara, Chef de Cuisine of Japengo Restaurant, officially kicks off the Hawaiian Airlines Featured Chef Series today. Each of his locally inspired, handcrafted dishes will include distinctively Hawaiian ingredients like Maui Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Kalo (taro) Mash or Kalo (taro) poke with Seaweed, Inamona and Scallions.

“I’m so excited to join the Hawaiian Airlines’ ‘ohana,” added Chef Jon Matsubara. “I truly feel that our land produces some of the richest flavors, and I’m honored that guests will have a lasting impression of our beautiful islands through these dishes as they embark on their journey home.”

~ Hawaiian Airlines Press Release, June 1, 2015

On behalf of The Tasty Island, Yours Truly is sincerely honored to have been personally invited by Hawaiian Airlines to attend a media private menu tasting event, held for the launch of their exciting new Featured Guest Series, beginning today with featured guest, Chef Jon Matsubara, Chef de Cuisine of Japengo Restaurant at the Hyatt Waikiki.

This event took place from 11am to 12 noon today, June 1st, in the Hawaiian Airlines Crew Resource Lounge at Honolulu International Airport, which is essentially the lounge for all flight crew, including pilots and flight attendants.

Following are photos I took today of the exciting new dishes that are now being featured in First Class on Hawaiian Airlines flights to and from the U.S. mainland and Hawaii, created by inaugural guest Chef Jon Matsubara, along with Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree. Enjoy!*


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Hawaii to Western U.S. Cities First Class Brunch


Hawaiian Airlines First Class Service Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Loco Moco with Beef Patty, Mushroom Gravy, Rice and Scrambled Eggs


Hawaiian Airlines First Class Service Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Loco Moco with Beef Patty, Mushroom Gravy, Rice and Scrambled Eggs (media kit image)


Hawaiian Airlines First Class Service Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Fresh Fruit with Lilikoi Mascarpone


Hawaiian Airlines First Class Service Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Pineapple Coconut Muffin


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Hawaii to Western U.S. Cities First Class Brunch


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Maui Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with kalo (Taro) Mash, Broccoli and Baby Carrot


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Maui Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with kalo (Taro) Mash, Broccoli and Baby Carrot (media kit image)


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Grilled Huli Huli Style Marinated Portobello Mushroom, French Lentils, Roasted Tomato


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Chilled Ramen Salad with Pipikaula (Salted Dried Beef), Kamaboko (Fish Cake) and Cucumber Kim Chee with Soy Ginger Vinaigrette appetizer


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Chilled Ramen Salad with Pipikaula (Salted Dried Beef), Kamaboko (Fish Cake) and Cucumber Kim Chee with Soy Ginger Vinaigrette appetizer (media kit image)


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Fresh Mozzarella, Plum Tomato, Watermelon and Roasted Beet with Balsamic Vinaigrette appetizer


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Western U.S. Cities to Hawaii First Class “Moemoe” Late Night Snack


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Kalua Chicken on Hawaiian Sweet Bread with Coffee BBQ Sauce and Pineapple Slaw


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Maui Onion soup with Pipikaula (Salted Dried Beef)


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Taro Poke with Seaweed, Tomato Sesame, Inamona (Roasted Kukui Nut) and Scallions


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s Western U.S. Cities to Hawaii First Class Brunch


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s Asparagus, Mushroom and Tomato Frittata, with Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Fried Rice


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s Asparagus, Mushroom and Tomato Frittata, with Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Fried Rice


Fruit Danish


Seasonal Fruit


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s Hawaii to Western U.S. Cities First Class Lunch


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s main entree (exact name coming soon)


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s Chicken Tomato (tastes like a chicken version of Filipino Pork Guisantes)


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s Chicken Tomato (media kit image)


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s appetizer (exact name coming soon)


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s appetizer (exact name coming soon)


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s Dessert Dish (exact name coming soon)


Hawaiian Airlines U.S. Cities to Hawaii main cabin inflight brunch meal service


Hawaiian Airlines U.S. Cities to Hawaii main cabin inflight lunch meal service


Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendants Kanoelani and Valerie with First Class Guest Chef Jon Matsubara and Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree. 6.1.15 @ HNL.


Hawaiian Airlines (Boeing 767) Captain Nadesan samples their new First Class service grindz6.1.15 @ HNL


Chef Chai holds a tray of Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Chilled Ramen Salad. 6.1.15 @ HNL


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Chilled Ramen Salad with Pipikaula (Salted Dried Beef), Kamaboko (Fish Cake) and Cucumber Kim Chee with Soy Ginger Vinaigrette appetizer samples


Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Grilled Huli Huli Style Marinated Portobello Mushroom with French Lentil samples


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s Chicken Tomato (tastes like a chicken version of Filipino Pork Guisantes) samples


Hawaiian Airlines First Class Service Guest Chef Jon Matsubara’s Loco Moco with Beef Patty, Mushroom Gravy, Rice and Scrambled Eggs samples


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s Asparagus, Mushroom and Tomato Frittata samples

And? Everything was BROKE DA’ MOUT’ WINNAHZ, of course! Better be, for first class caliber service. Most notably outstanding for me, given the small portion I tried, was Chef Matsubara’s Loco Moco. The burger patty and gravy were just outstanding, packed with so much beefy flavor, while tasting of nothing but the highest quality ingredients.

Again, because the samples were so small (da’ kine “Coscos” ‘kine), there’s no way I can sit here and describe to you every detailed nuance of each dish. All I can say is every sample they offered gave an immediately impression of having only the highest quality ingredients and perfect execution, resulting in absolute “onoliciousness” that will have you begging the Flight Attendant for seconds!

Chef Jon and Chef Chai are essentially taking da’ local ‘kine grindz all of us enjoy everyday at the likes of say, Alicia’s Market and nearby Kahai Street Kitchen, and kicks them up notches to what I think is very much worthy of Hawaiian Airlines First Class in-flight meal service program.


Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendants (on duty) enjoy a personal explanation of each dish offered as samples by Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree. 6.1.15 @ HNL


Hawaiian Airlines First Class Guest Chef Jon Matsubara and Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree. 6.1.15 @ HNL


Renee Awana, Hawaiian Airlines Senior Director of Product Development with Chef Jon and Chef Chai. 6.1.15 @ HNL


Olena Rubin Heu, Pomai and Hawaiian Airlines Guest Chef Jon Matsubara. 6.1.15 @ HNL


Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree and Pomai. 6.1.15 @ HNL


Pomai with Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendant Valerie6.1.15 @ HNL


Tara Shimooka, External Communications Specialist for Hawaiian Airlines with Pomai Souza of The Tasty Island. 6.1.15 @ HNL


Honolulu VIP media group invited to Hawaiian Airlines’ private tasting for New Guest Chef Program event at Honolulu International Airport in the HA Crew Resource Lounge, June 1, 2015

Related Links:

P.S. If I were the Executive Chef for Hawaiian Airlines, this would be my proposal for their interisland in-flight meal service…


The Tasty Island’s proposed Hawaiian Airlines cabin-wide interisland in-flight meal service: SPAM Musubi & Hawaiian Ice Cake

The Tasty Island’s proposed Hawaiian Airlines Cabin-wide Interisland In-Flight Meal Service
• Appetizer & Main Entree: SPAM® Musubi (vegetarian option available upon request)
– First Class upgrade: Maui Spicy Takuan and Beni Shoga Tsukemono side dish (upgrade available to all other passengers for $2)
• Dessert: Hawaiian Ice Cake: Creamy Maui Passion Orange Guava with Li Hing Mui

That’s it! ‘Nuff!

;-)

20 thoughts on “Hawaiian Airlines New First Class Featured Chef Series

  • June 2, 2015 at 2:25 am
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    Pomai. presentation of the food make dining so elegant.  I like the way loco moco

    was served with mushroom sauce look really upscale.   I now will reseach on

    diner drive inn food and make it more elegant looking.

    Reply
    • June 2, 2015 at 2:28 am
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      Too bad no portuguese sauages with eggs rice there that would so great,

      Reply
  • June 2, 2015 at 7:06 am
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    Woe is me … I always fly Hawaiian, but only economy class …

    But I wouldn’t mind if they served Chef Pomai’s creations!

    Reply
  • June 2, 2015 at 8:37 am
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    @ Debbie-chan – Woot! One vote for my proposed menu! The cost to do that should be so relatively small, yet positive marketing impact so HUGE, I SERIOUSLY think HAL should consider it! ;-)

    @ Kelike – Podagee Sausage… totally! I’m pretty sure one of the other other featured chefs will incorporate it in their dish(es). Keep in mind, starting from now, there’s a total of 5 guest Chefs Hawaiian Airlines will be featuring, rotating every 5 months, all the way until 2017. And they did mention they’ll be making “tweaks” here and there based on customer feedback. So they have lots of opportunity to incorporate all the popular local foods and ingredients into their dishes.

    I remember Sam Choy was the Executive Chef for American Airlines, and he did some pretty amazing stuff with local foods as his inspiration.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2015 at 9:26 am
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    Use more local island produces like that Maui onions are famous all over the

    states on mainland.

    Reply
    • June 2, 2015 at 9:30 am
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      Amy,

      Chef Jon Matsubara’s Maui Onion Soup with Pipikaula is on the menu. I tried it and it’s WIN-NAHZ!

      Reply
  • June 2, 2015 at 12:01 pm
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    I would easily take that spam musubi over The Dreaded Breakfast Burrito they serve the nonfirst class.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2015 at 2:04 pm
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    Pomai,
     
    I only fly first class and I’d love to try Hawaiian Airlines new food but Hawaiian doesn’t fly to where I fly on the mainland and they don’t provide meal or snack during very short inter-island flights. I have the Hawaiian credit card and accumulated over 25,000 air miles with them.
     
    Hawaiian does fly to New York JFK and then connects to Boston, MA via discount carrier JetBlue one change of plane coach class but if I wanted to fly first class all the way Hawaiian provides first class service via San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA and Las Vegas, NV with two changes of planes and a much longer flight. Something is messed up with that!
     
    Hawaiian does not fly to Reno, NV but does fly to Phoenix, AZ where I normally change planes going to Reno or Boston. US Airways which merged with the old America West Airlines now merging with American Airlines has the best flights to east coast and great first class meals. Phoenix, AZ is their west coast hub which is about half way between east coast and Hawaii making it a great 1 hour stop to stretch legs, walk around and relax the body.

    Reply
  • June 3, 2015 at 11:34 am
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    @ Ken – I couldn’t find any nonstop flights from Hawaii to Boston. Most make at least 1 stop at LAX, with a total flight time of 11 to 13 hours. That long, and first class is almost a must! Sitting in a coach seat more than just 5 hours to the west coast is torture for me! One trick is doing an upgrade at the airport check-in counter, when they try to sell off vacant first class seats at bargain price, sometimes as little as $200. Or if the agent really likes you (and you’re dressed the part), you just may be able slide into the front seat for free!

    @ Pat – You mean this one…


    Hawaiian economy class Breakfast Burrito with Guava-Passion Fruit Muffin

    @ Melissa – Always fun to hang out with you and Olena at the tasting events! I agree, the Loco Moco was my fave’ as well. It’s just kind of an irony if someone asks what you were served in First Class, and you tell them “Loco Moco”. They’d be like, “wait a minute, you mean they’re giving you Zippy’s food in First Class?” But then you’d be like, “oh no my friend, this isn’t “just a Loco Moco, no sir. This is THE Loco Moco!”

    Reply
  • June 3, 2015 at 12:42 pm
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    Pomai, wonder any chefs will a new age chicken hekka dish?

    Reply
    • June 3, 2015 at 1:07 pm
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      Amy,

      While again, I’m not a chicken fan, Chicken Hekka is an EXCELLENT suggestion! Main thing, being this is First Class, if they’re going to use chicken for any dish, being it’s thought of as a “cheap” meat, they should specify that they’re using only the highest quality organic and/or free range chickens raised in Hawaii.

      So the menu would say:

      PunaChic’n Hekka
      Chef’s heirloom recipe, featuring Punachics organic, free range chicken from the Big Island, flamin’ wok’d with Sumida farms watercress, Ha Farms organic carrots, Maui onion, Hamakua Farms Fungal Jungle Mushrooms and Sun Noodle long rice, then simmered in a very special Kawanaka Sukiyaki broth. Served with premium select Tamanishiki Rice.

      One other concern is whether Chicken Hekka can be properly served for in-flight service, being it’s a stir-fry dish simmered with a sauce. Definitely a dish that would require some practice runs.

      Reply
  • June 3, 2015 at 3:41 pm
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    Pomai,

    I flew the US Airways 10:50pm out of HNL to Phoenix,AZ time was 4hr 45 min with 1hr change of plane and then Phoenix to Boston time was 4hr 6min.

    Hawaiian flies direct HNL to JFK, NY with flight time of 9hr.

    Reply
  • June 4, 2015 at 1:39 am
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    HA! HA! I busted out laughing when I saw the ice cake! Call it Waianae Airlines!

    Reply
    • June 4, 2015 at 6:33 am
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      L,

      I just figured, if HAL approved  the classic “Loco Moco” plate lunch dish for First Class mainland US to Hawaii flights, they HAVE to approve SPAM Musubi and Ice Cake for interisland service. Gots’ da!

      And what? You stereotyping Waianae? Shame on you. LOL!!!

      Reply
      • June 4, 2015 at 1:32 pm
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        Pomai,

        Try wait ..while i stop laughing.. K-den call it Kaimuki Airlines. I was wrong.. you need fries with mustard/mayonnaise to call it Waianae Air. I love the natural beauty of Waianae and I own a home here.  I have to defend this place when people ask me why I live in Waianae. So yes, I know all about the stereotypes. I know all its warts from living here 20+ years but I also know its good points.

        Reply
  • June 4, 2015 at 4:42 pm
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    WHOA!  I WISH we had that kind food on our flights PHX-HNL-PHX, but you know how it goes in the cattle car…

    Reply
  • June 4, 2015 at 4:54 pm
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    @ Auntie Doni – Just bring your own grindz. Stop by Alicia’s Market on the way to the airport and grab a few plates for the flight back home. That’s the way to go!

    @ L – Whoah, not da’ airline for every part of the island, eh? Da’ kine Waianae Airlines, the flight attendants all speak thick pidgin:

    Waianae Airlines Flight Attendant Intro’

    “Howzit braddahz and sistahz, and mahaloz fo’ flying Waianae Airlines. Da’ captain today stay Mo’ke Kanahele, and da’ copilot stay Jr. Boy Cabral.

    Dis plane hauls @ss so buckle up. Braddahz, watch out da’ strap no hemo’ yo’ ala’z.

    No even ‘tink of ralphing, or you going get lickenz. Ack up, and you going get dirty lickenz. Ack really lolo, and we going 86 you ovah Molokai.

    Flight meal grindz today stay can vienna sausage wit’ ketchup and crack seed. Beverages stay Heineken or Budweiser. Main ‘ting you get all buss’. But no get nuts ‘kine buss, or again, you going get dirty lickenz.

    Enjoy da’ flight, and once again mahalo fo’ flying Waianae Airlines.”

    Reply
    • June 4, 2015 at 6:06 pm
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      Braddah Pomai, how you know me?  YUP!  Rainbow Drive-In on the way, Loco Moco bowl please for me and Zippy’s Fried Chicken for DH.  I was stopped, as usual going, through the TSA check point, `cuz my Hawaiian bracelets yeah, and the lady when ask me, “so, what you get Auntie?”  Oh and no forget my Foodland “Musubi shopping bag” choke wit mochi crunch, iso peanuts, wasabi peas, tomoe ame, white rabbit, and extra Spam musubi from Musubi Cafe Iyasume.

      Reply
  • June 5, 2015 at 1:56 pm
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    Yum Pomai! That’s why I fly Hawaiian Air when visiting the islands because they actually serve food on board, and the service is great! It’s always nice to feel like you’re on vacation the moment you get on the plane. I’m acually ok with the 10 hour flight from NYC in coach…because it’s in a wide body plane it feels roomier. One day I will upgrade to first class using miles hopefully! Maybe then I can have some of those delicious foods I see in this post!

    Reply

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