You could feel the magic in the air as you arrived at the Sheraton Waikiki, there is something very special about Waikiki sunsets. And, on September 23rd, the sunset was a glorious golden color!
As all of our 500+ attendees arrived to our 13th Hawaii Restaurant Association Hall of Fame, everyone’s focus was on our 9 Honorees.
Riding up the Sheraton Waikiki’s escalator, at the top you are welcomed by a long red carpet that leads you to the main ballroom. On both sides of the red carpet are giant palm trees with golden branches.
You know you have arrived somewhere special & magical!
The Honorees were escorted to a special VIP room where special labeled drinks are served. Media Photographers from our local Midweek newspaper, our industry magazine, Hawaii Hospitality and our HRA Photographer, David Livingston, take photos of all our Honorees and our HRA Executive Committee.
As you walked into the main reception ballroom you were greeted with a complimentary wine glass and a special gold wine charm with HRA’s logo. 7 Beverage Sponsors provided their best liquid delights! Johnson Brothers, Southern Glazers, Paradise Beverages, Youngs, Anheuser Busch, Volcanic Water and Koolau Whiskey You hear the lively music and you are greeted by friends and made new friends!
There were 40 fabulous Silent Auction & Raffle items! Including 3 Maui trip packages including air transportation, hotel accommodations, rent a car and restaurant gift certificates were the top prizes! As you analyzed all the wonderful raffle and silent auction items, strolling the room was Santos the Kidd who performed mind-blowing magic!
The clock strikes 6pm and the doors to the main banquet room opens! The scent of 16 Chef’s cooking their special dishes for the evening draw you to each of their stations. Matthew Small, Troy Terorotua, Julie Uyemura, Matthew Young, Harry Nakashima, Ronnie Nasuti, DK Kodama, Lawrence Ozoa, Adam Gilbert, Russel Siu, Danny Chew, Paul Matsumoto, Masa Gushiken, Felix Tai and Paul Logan ( I only had 15 chefs)
The tables are decorated with large golden pineapple centerpieces, donated by D. Otani Produce. The Sponsor table’s centerpiece had Koolau Distillery Whiskey. Each one lovingly created by the Polynesian Cultural Center’s team.
At 7pm sharp, Jo McGarry and Bobby Curran welcome everyone. Our Chairman, Tom Jones and our magician, Santos the Kidd mesmerizes the audience by performing a mind-blowing magic trick!
Proceeds from the evening is being gifted to the Hawaii Restaurant Association Education Foundation. Chairman Hide Sakurai shared with our audience the mission of this great foundation that is fostering culinary education in our local High Schools.
Our Selection Committee is introduced. Lead by Chairman Ron Takahashi. This dedicated group of industry leaders went through each nomination and determined the 9 Honorees. Paul Ah Cook, Keli’i Gouveia, Victor Lim, Mark Oyama, Stevette Santiago, Warren Shon and Mark Teruya.
Then one by one each honoree walks on stage to accept their award and share a few words of wisdom. You quickly realize that they truly deserve this honor. Peter Kim, DK Kodama, Miles Ichinose, Steve Ueda, Wally Takara, Charlene “Charlie” Goodness, Eric von Platen Luder, Dean Okimoto and Felix Tai.
The magic didn’t end that night, it continues. Everyday, we in the restaurant and hospitality industry, we create magic. We take simple ingredients and turn them into mouth-watering meals, we create an atmosphere of lifelong memories! There’s nothing more magical than that!