choices in dining
Restaurants are selected to receive awards. A dinner is held. Tickets are sold. Proceeds benefit culinary arts programs at the University of Hawaii's community colleges. The culinary programs turn out new chefs. They go to work in restaurants. The restaurants win awards ...
Life is nicely circular, sometimes.
Each year, readers of Honolulu Magazine select their favorite restaurants and the magazine bestows upon these restaurants the Hale Aina Awards. This year's awards will be handed out Monday at a gala billed as "casually elegant." Host will be David Paul Johnson, whose establishment, David Paul's Diamond Head Grill, is one of two selected to receive the Best New Restaurant award.
There's that circle thing again.
Co-winner of the new restaurant award is Palomino Euro Bistro, which actually opened in August of 1997, serving up a Mediterranean menu big on rotisserie dishes and meals cooked over a keawe-wood fire. Signature dishes: Paella and Grilled Seafood Ravioli.
Chef Fred DeAngelo says the restaurant's key to success is the "total experience" it offers: A casual-but-elegant setting, familiar favorites with new specials every two weeks, plus a menu that changes with the seasons.
David Paul's is barely a year old, yet has built quite a reputation for fine food at the far end of Waikiki.
His current focus, however, dovetails perfectly with the Hale Aina benefit. Johnson has established a Center for Culinary Excellence to offer training in food service to local at-risk youth. Four young people are now working at the Diamond Head Grill under the new program.
Johnson, who was himself a troubled teen until he began his chef training, plans to provide his young students with total restaurant training, from the kitchen to the management office.
Helping to fund this training are cooking demonstrations and fusion dinners with noted American chefs. The 1999 sessions kick off Friday, with John Ash, culinary director at Fetzer Vineyards. He will demonstrate recipes from his cookbook, "From the Earth to the Table: John Ash's Wine Country Cuisine." Lunch and class cost $45. Saturday Ash and Johnson create a five-course fusion dinner, $75. For information on either event call 922-3734.
1999 Hale Aina AwardsDate: Monday, 5-8 p.m.
Place: David Paul's Diamond Head Grill, second floor, Colony Surf Hotel
Benefit: 50 percent of ticket price donated to the Hale Aina Foundation, which supports culinary arts programs in the community colleges.
Call: 524-7400, Ext. 272
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