A few years back when we had menu development Chef Alan would bring an ingredient and we would do a "quick-fire challenge" with the cooks who were in attendance. They were always common items you could find anywhere like zucchini or yellow squash. We had a little time the other day to do a “quick-fire challenge” during the afternoon. Kelly, Samantha, James, Donna and myself, did a ten minute challenge using ground beef. Kelly made meatballs with won ton “pasta” Samantha made a Philly cheesesteak inspired lumpia using local goat cheese, James made larb in lettuce wrap, and Donna was missing home so she thought of something her father used to make, garlic fried rice with a ground beef almost similar to the Japanese soboro that I made. All the dishes were really tasty. And definitely some ideas for future dishes. The other cooks enjoyed watching and we had fun doing it. 

~ Miya Nishimura, Chef de Cuisine at Alan Wong's Honolulu

On the heels of the kitchen’s first “Quick Fire” challenge, I thought it would only be appropriate to share some pictures of the team and their dishes.

The curve ball thrown at them that afternoon by our Chef de Cuisine Miya, was initially met with trepidation and worry.  They were all so busy getting their stations ready for service that you could see that some of them had some interesting thoughts running through their minds.

Probably things like: “Great, just what I need!” or “I have more important things to be doing!” or maybe even “Why do I have to do this?”

As they got into it though you could see their demeanor shift and could tell that they were having fun creating something right there on the spot, a la Top Chef.  Some found inspirations in what they had been working on, some on things from where they grew up and others from what they grew up eating.

The energy coming from the team was playful and curious (about what others made), thoughtful and reflective.  And all of this took place within 10 minutes!  At the end of it all, I believe that each of them found a reason for themselves of why they did it and I also believe each of them was able to learn a little bit more about themselves and each other.

This company was founded on creativity and innovation and this was just one basic form of that.  It will be great to see the next one and I am looking forward to seeing who else in our kitchen wants to get involved.  Now it’s time for me to come up with something for our front of the house service staff…stay tuned.

~ Kerry Ichimasa, General Manager at Alan Wong's Honolulu