Star Chefs Coming To Kaua‘i

Since 1995, the restaurant industry online magazine has featured America’s top chefs, pastry chefs, sommeliers and mixologists. In 2006, StarChefs’ editors began awarding creativity, ambition, exquisite presentation and, most importantly, delicious food. Up-and-coming visionary chefs who have compelling culinary philosophies and are committed to fostering a culinary community are given the designation of StarChefs Rising Star. These chefs are the future of American cuisine.

In 2012, StarChefs tasted savory dishes, desserts, cocktails and wine pairings from more than 50 of Hawaii’s talented chefs, pastry chefs, mixologists and sommeliers. This was the first time they came to Hawaii, and only 14 earned the title of Rising Star.

Two of Hawaii’s Rising Star Chefs are coming to Kaua’i as part of the Rising Star Chefs Tour. The itinerary includes a free workshop for industry professionals and a five-course dinner for the public.

Christopher Kulis, chef de cuisine at Capische? on Maui, attended the Culinary Institute of America, then worked at The Broiler Room in Lake Tahoe before taking a job at California’s Bouchon. At Capische?, Kulis works with local farmers to develop an on-site garden and uses the day’s catch as inspiration for the menu.

“Kulis deftly weaves together pepper, acid, sweetness and salt to create bold, challenging dishes,” say the editors at “And his rustic, naturalistic approach to plating is clearly inspired by the product he works with, most of which comes from the organic garden that Kulis started, and each cook at Capische? tends.”

Michelle Karr-Ueoka, pastry chef at Alan Wong’s Restaurants, also attended the Culinary Institute of America, and has cooked in notable restaurants such as Daniel, Per Se and Union Pacific in New York, as well as The French Laundry in California.

“Her pastries are explorations waiting to be savored and slowly navigated, as crunchy textures give way to silky mousse, and sweet begets sour,” raves the StarChefs editors. “But what she really brings to the table is a deep knowledge of her native Hawaii’s terroir.

For most pastry chefs, dishes reflect something about themselves; for Karr-Ueoka, it’s about reflecting the heart and soul of Hawaii.

Kulis and Karr-Ueoka will be joined by Ronnie Nasuti, executive chef at Tiki’s Grill & Bar in Waikiki. After attending the Les Dames Escoffier Society, Nasuti trained under Roy’s chef and founder Roy Yamaguchi, as well as corporate chef and partner Gordon Hopkins and corporate chef Jacqueline Lau. At Tiki’s, Nasuti brings in island fresh produce and breads, as well as 175 pounds of local grass-fed beef and 450 pounds of locally caught or raised fish every week.

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, these chefs will prepare the Rising Star Chefs Tour Dinner. The five-course meal is $75 (BYOB) and benefits the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and Culinary Arts program at Kaua’i Community College. The meal will be served in the Kauai Community College fine dining room.

Nasuti will prepare the first course of Big Island abalone with ponzu geleé, avocado and wasabi oil. Karr-Ueoka, cooks more than pastry, and will prepare the second course of Kauai Shrimp salad with lilikoi dressing. For the third and fourth courses, Kulis will prepare pork tenderloin with local goat cheese,; and Hawaii Ranchers Beef with Maui tomatoes, micro basil, roasted garden vegetables, and crispy chickpea polenta with toasted pumpkin seed and vanilla vinaigrette. KarrUeoka will prepare pineapple shaved ice for dessert.

The free Art of French Cooking workshop Thursday, Feb. 28, is for industry professionals only. Beginning at 8:30 a.m., Nasuti will share tips, techniques and trade secrets on preparing terrines and pâté. At 9:30, Kulis will cover sous vide cooking techniques, and at noon, KarrUeoka will explain the art of French pastry. For reservations, call Darilyn Fernandez at 645-0878.

Dinner: Feb. 27, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., $75

Industry Workshop: Feb. 28, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., free

Marta Lane is a Kaua’i-based food writer. For more information, visit