This past weekend, the MODERN HONOLULU held their first Chef Takeover culinary event. The hotel's Executive Chef, Keith Pajinag invited friend and fellow chef, Will Chen of Fresh Box to a hotel-wide takeover for the entire weekend! Chef Will focuses on using fresh and local ingredients, so he decided to feature a special ingredient during his takeover - local ahi.
The event finale took place in the gorgeous Sun Suite of the hotel. As the sun went down, we were treated to a great lecture by Brooks Takenaka, Owner of the Hawaii Fish Auction, about seafood sustainability and the abundance of fresh seafood here in our islands. We are truly lucky to have so many skilled fishermen in our waters that give us access to the freshest fish.
For dinner, we had an enormous 35 lb. long-line ahi caught right here in our waters that Brooks brought in from the auction. Chef Will demonstrated how to cut down a side of the fish, first removing the skin, rib cage, and bloodline, then cutting a section of tenderloin and steaks.
These premium cuts of tuna would fetch high prices in any sushi restaurant, but Chef Will confessed that his favorite part of the fish is the belly and bones. The fattiness of the belly is irresistible, and the bones when deep fried make a snack that pairs well with an ice cold beer.
The twist of the evening was that the guests were in charge of cooking our own dinner! Chef Will and Chef Keith passed out thick slices of the tuna and directed us to cooking stations that were set up with grills, burners, flat tops, and prep stations. The MODERN provided us with any ingredient imaginable to make our ahi taste great, everything from lemongrass to pomegranate.
Being that we already had sashimi grade tuna on our hands, I didn't really want to cook the fish. But, when I saw the cute hibachi set-up I had to try it.
Although my attempt at grilling the tuna was a semi-fail, the poke bar in the suite quickly made up for it. Put a group of local people at a poke bar and you get instant chaos. The poor