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Honolulu diners who sample Chai Chaowasaree’s cuisine often find themselves transported to new heights. Soon, thanks to a new arrangement with Hawaiian Airlines, clients can savor the chef’s culinary creations while winging their way to destinations both near and far.
As the new executive chef for the Honolulu-based carrier, chef Chai, as he is known, will design its in-flight meal program for passengers seated in first class and coach. He takes over the role from Bev Gannon, the award-winning restaurateur from Maui who has crafted meals for Hawaiian Airlines since 1999.
“Our in-flight meals have won awards and helped distinguish Hawaiian from every other airline because of the care and creativity that Bev Gannon brought to the program,” said Blaine Miyasato, Hawaiian’s vice president of product development. “We are deeply grateful to her for a decade of pleasing our customers.”
Hawaiian has timed its change of chefs with its impending service to Asia. Chef Chai will initially design the menus for Hawaiian’s new daily, nonstop flights between Honolulu and Tokyo, Japan, which launch on Nov. 17. In 2011, he will come up with menus for all of Hawaiian’s domestic and international flights system-wide, including the Jan. 12 introduction of service four times weekly to Seoul, South Korea.
“Chef Chai brings a fresh pan-Asian approach to cuisine that is a reflection of Hawaii’s diverse cultural influences and the perfect complement to Hawaiian’s growing international service," said Miyasato. "Our customers are going to love the new meals that he has in store for them.”
The nationally recognized, award-winning chef Chai owns two popular Hawaii restaurants: Singha Thai Cuisine in Waikiki and Chai’s Island Bistro at Aloha Tower Marketplace in Honolulu. His cuisine places emphasis on using fresh ingredients from around the islands and, as a founding member of Hawaii’s Island Chefs, he is committed to promoting the agriculture and aquaculture of the 50th state. Each week, he hosts a Hawaii television cooking show and last year, he authored The Island Bistro Cookbook, which earned an award of excellence from the Hawaii Book Publishers Association.
Hawaiian Airlines is complementing chef Chai’s in-flight meals with wines selected by Chuck Furuya, a recognized expert in pairing wines with Pacific Rim cuisine. In 1988, Furuya became the first person in Hawaii and the 10th person in the U.S. to earn the title of master sommelier.