Chef Alan Wong has opened 4 successful fine dining restaurants in the past 9 years, all one year apart. So how does Alan Wong’s Restaurant remain at near capacity every night? Chef Alan shares his early days as a dishwasher to apprenticing at the #1 restaurant in the country prior to starting his restaurant chain.
Alan shares how he met an angel investor that funded his first restaurant and how they continue to win awards year after year. One lesson is in community giving and support. Chef Alan does a lot for the community and has been recognized with many awards. Learn how helping the community is crucial to your business success.
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Chef Alan Wong
In the world of gourmet cooking, critically-acclaimed Chef Alan Wong is well known for his unique creative flair. A renowned master of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, Chef Wong has made a highly successful career out of marrying elements of different ethnic cooking styles, along with the finest Island-grown ingredients. Fusing French techniques with local and Asian ideas naturally makes for an East West menu.
He apprenticed at The Greenbrier Hotel and then went on to Lutece in New York City. His mentor, Andre Soltner, emphasized early in his career the importance of being a “skilled craftsman” and to cook with two feet on the ground. The chef, whose success is due as much to dedication as inspiration, is pragmatic about cooking. “It’s exciting to create food that stretches the palate and exercises the senses-while it’s grounded in the classical foundation, it’s still fun.” His professional philosophy of not being different solely for the sake of being different has stood him in good stead over the years.
He opened The Canoe House Restaurant at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows in 1989. He has participated in all 12 of the “Cuisines of the Sun” events held there every year. In 1991, he was a founding member of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine Chefs, an organized group that works with Hawaii’s farmers, fishermen and ranchers. In 1994, he was named one of 13 Rising Star Chefs in America by the Robert Mondavi Winery for culinary excellence. He is a James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Pacific Northwest 1996.
In April of 1995, he opened “Alan Wong’s Restaurant” in Honolulu. In 1996, he received a James Beard Foundation nomination for the nation’s Best New Restaurant. The restaurant is a six-time winner of the Hale ’Aina Award as the state’s “Restaurant of the Year” and is also a six-time winner of the Ilima Award as Hawaii’s “Favorite Restaurant of the Year”.
In September 1999, he opened The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong. Located at Macy’s in the Ala Moana Shopping Center, the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers a patisserie bar, as well as banquet and catering facilities. That same year, the chef became a cookbook author publishing “New Wave Luau” (Ten Speed Press). And since 1999, Alan Wong’s Restaurant has continuously received the DiRoNa Award for Excellence.
In February 2000, Chef Wong entered a consulting partnership with Aloha Airlines developing in-flight meals. In July 2000, he opened Alan Wong’s Hawaii in Tokyo Disneyland.
In 2001, the chef was named Chef of the Year 2001 by Santé Magazine for Wine and Spirits. Alan Wong’s Restaurant was also honored in Gourmet Magazine’s October 2001 issue ranking number six in the nation of America’s Best Fifty Restaurants. Today, the restaurant continues to receive top ratings in Zagat, Gault Millau and Wine Spectator.
In March 2002, the Inaugural 2001 Wedgewood Awards honored Chef Wong as one of the ten U.S. chefs nominated for the title of World Master of Culinary Arts. Also in 2002, Nation’s Restaurant News inducted the restaurant into its Hall of Fame.
In August 2003, Chef Wong partnered with the Hualalai Resort as a food and beverage consultant, reopening their Club Grille Restaurant as “The Hualalai Grille by Alan Wong” in December 2003. That same September, Bon Appetit Magazine recognized Chef Wong among its culinary legends as the ‘Master of Hawaii Regional Cuisine’.
The chef believes in giving back to the community and to the profession. He serves on the board of Easter Seals Hawaii and the Hawaii Seafood Promotion Committee, as well as, the Leeward Community College and Culinary Institute of the Pacific food service programs. He was honored in 2001 by Kapiolani Community College as its Distinguished Alumni and by the University of Hawaii as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2002, both for contributions to the State of Hawaii, and now serves on the board for the University of Hawaii Alumni Association.
Alan Wong’s Restaurant on King Street offers guests a true slice of Hawaii —utilizing the abundance of Hawaii’s fresh ingredients and creating innovative and local dishes with a contemporary twist. The ambiance – casual yet elegant – welcomes its guests with Hawaiian style hospitality and the “Aloha spirit.”
Honors and Awards
Honolulu Magazine Hale ‘Aina Awards
2006 Restaurant of the Year
2005 Restaurant of the Year
2004 Top Oahu Restaurant
2003 Top Oahu Restaurant
2002 Top Oahu Restaurant
2001 Restaurant of the Year
2000 Restaurant of the Year
1999 Restaurant of the Year
1998 Restaurant of Distinction
1997 Restaurant of the Year
1996 Restaurant of the Year
1996 Best New Restaurant
Honolulu Magazine Hale ‘Aina Awards
2006 Best Dessert Menu
2002 Best Restaurant Wine List
2002 Industry Leadership Award
Honolulu Advertiser Ilima Awards
2005 Best Restaurant
2004 Best Restaurant
2003 Best Hawaii Regional Cuisine Restaurant
2002 Best Restaurant
2001 Best Restaurant
2000 Best Restaurant
1999 Best Restaurant
1998 Best Restaurant
Honolulu Advertiser Ilima Awards
1997 Best “Service” Restaurant
1997 Best Special Occasion Restaurant
1996 Best Special Occasion Restaurant
Bon Appetit Magazine
2003 “The Legends: Master of Hawaii Regional Cuisine”
2000 “Our Favorite Restaurants” List
DiRoNa (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) Award (Biennial Award)
2003 Award of Excellence
2001 Award of Excellence
1999 Award of Excellence
Food Service Exec Clever Ideas “On the Cutting Edge” Award
2002 One of the Top Ten Outstanding Culinary Innovators in the United States
Nation’s Restaurant News
2002 Fine Dining Hall of Fame Induction
Academie Gastronomique of Brillat-Savarin Confrerie de la Chaines des Rotisseurs
2001 Medaille d’ Merit for Outstanding Service to Chaine (Education and Gastronomy)
2001 America’s Best 50 Restaurants (ranked number 6 in the nation)
2000 Best Regional Cooking
2000 America’s Best Restaurants
2001 Best Wine and Spirits Chef of the Year
The World Master of Culinary Arts 2001
2001 One of the Top Ten Chefs in the United States
Food & Wine Magazine’s Restaurant Poll
2000 Best Reflects the City
James Beard Foundation
1996 Best Chef of the Year, Pacific Northwest
1996 Best New Restaurant in the United States (nominated)
Robert Mondavi Winery 13 Rising Star Chefs of America
1994 Award of Culinary Excellence
Hawaii Agriculture Conference 2004
2004 Recognition for Promoting Hawaii’s Agriculture
City and County of Honolulu
2002 Outstanding Professional Accomplishments and Community Service Award
University of Hawaii Alumni Association
2002 Distinguished Alumni Award
Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau
2001 “Keep it Hawaii” Certificate of Merit
Kapiolani Community College
2001 Outstanding Alumni Award
Leeward Community College
2001 Community Partner of the Year
Moiliili Community Center
2001 Outstanding Community Service Award
Associations and Affiliations
Confrérie de la Chaînes des Rôtisseurs Maitre Grillardin
Culinary Institute of the Pacific, Culinary Arts Advisory Committee
Hale ‘Aina Ohana Board of Directors
Hawaii Restaurant Association
Hawaii Seafood Promotion Committee Board of Directors
Leeward Community College Advisory Committee
Les Amis d’Escoffier Society
Easter Seals of Hawaii Board of Directors
University of Hawaii Alumni Association Board of Directors
Alan Wong’s Restaurants
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