What the Heck?
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
La Mer chef Yves Garnier, who was honored by the consul general of France, Frédéric Desagneaux, on Thursday at the Halekulani, poses next to an ice sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe. CLICK FOR LARGE
La Mer chef honored by French government
Thursday evening, the Halekulani looked like an outpost of Paris. There was a melting Arc de Triomphe, carved out of ice, and an 8-foot-high Eiffel Tower, crafted from chocolate. French wine flowed, French cheeses filled the air with pungent aromas.
The consul general of France in San Francisco, M. Frédéric Desagneaux, had flown in to make La Mer chef Yves Garnier a "Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole." The award is reserved for those who have distinguished themselves in agriculture, in Garnier's case, his ability to turn island products into French cuisine.
But since "chevalier" means "knight," a number of people in the audience were disappointed when all Garnier got was a medal. "I expected them to tap him on the shoulder with a sword," said one woman near me. "Or, since he's a chef, maybe a fork."
Both sides now: What a nasty public dispute between The Bistro at Century Center and its landlord, the condo owners association. On one side, the Bistro's Clifford Laughton, who poured $2 million into refurbishing the restaurant and shut it down five years into a 15-year lease rather than face a doubling of the rent.
On the other side is the owners association president, Ian Lind. Yes, that Ian Lind, the former investigative reporter who now blogs out of his North Shore home. Who knew Hawaii's foremost progressive commentator moonlighted as a capitalist landlord?
In his press release, Laughton called the board "asinine" and accused it of "permitting massage parlors, hookers and drug dealers to operate with relative impunity." You can read Lind's far more temperate reply at iLind.net.
Last Sunday, A&B CEO Allen Doane and wife Christina threw a baby luau for son Alexander at Hiroshi's. In the dining room you couldn't move without bumping into a CEO: Hawaii Pacific Health's Chuck Sted, Campbell Estate's David Heenan, Grove Farm's Warren Haruki, First Hawaiian Bank's Don Horner, on and on.
The scene was different in the back room, which had been transformed into a kids' party. Outside, the food ran to miso-glazed salmon and braised short ribs. In the kids' room, Hiroshi's set up a buffet of plain spaghetti, pizza, chicken tenders and Cheerios. Outside, master sommelier Chuck Furuya poured pinot noir and Riesling. The kids got fruit punch and milk.
Making elaborate balloon animals for the kids was Steve-O the Clown. The same clown we'd hired for the baby luau of my daughter, who turns 20 next month. "Yes," he admitted. "I've been doing this so long I'm on my second generation."
Free parking: Also at the Doane baby luau was retired HEI CEO Bob Clarke, who's now teaching corporate strategy at the UH business school. Clarke's teaching for free, but he did insist on one thing: a place to park. "It took weeks to get it," he said. "I think it's easier to get a paycheck at Manoa than parking."
As last weekend's memorial service for Abe Weinstein began at the Hawaii Theatre, the lights went dim and from behind the audience entered jazz great Gabe Baltazar, playing "When the Saints Come Marching In" on Abe's favorite instrument, the clarinet. He was followed down the aisle by DeShannon Higa on trumpet and UH's Pat Hennessey on trombone.
The tune was played raw and sweet, much like it must have sounded originally on the streets of New Orleans.
There were heartfelt tributes to Weinstein delivered from the lectern. But the real momento for the man who almost single-handedly created the Hawaii International Jazz Festival came from musicians, an all-star lineup including pianist Rich Crandall, and bass players Steve Jones and John Kolivas. They performed many of Weinstein's favorite tunes. When they concluded the service with "Things Ain't What They Used To Be," it was real blues.
Bang the drum softly:
Speaking of jazz, it's a pleasure to see the acclaim the Honolulu Jazz Quartet is getting for its new CD, "Tenacity," which stacks up well against any new jazz album nationwide.
At Tuesday's CD release party, I ran into Julian Leigh, who's the mother of the group's talented drummer, Adam Baron. Was Baron the kind of kid who banged on everything? I asked. She nodded ruefully. "Once he got a drum kit, it was tough to find a place to live. The neighbors all complained."
Baron laughed. "I wish all those neighbors could be here tonight," he said. "Just to see where it all led."
Swimsuit season: Last December while walking the beach in Maui, I stumbled upon a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot. That swimsuit issue hit newsstands here Friday.
The Maui photos pop off the page. Literally. They were shot in 3-D, and you have to view them through those goofy red-and-blue 3-D glasses, thoughtfully provided. Wait till you see Veronica Varekova bathing in the fountain, in the lobby of the Four Seasons Maui. It's very 3-D.
Advance notice: The Oscars are on tonight at 6:30. If you can't wait that long, you can catch the awards starting at 5 p.m., at HIFF's annual Oscar Night at the Halekulani. The HIFF showing is only slightly less tape-delayed than the KITV broadcast. The live awards kick off at 3 p.m. our time.
HIFF executive director Chuck Boller will know many of the winners ahead of time. He has a volunteer watching the live feed. But he won't tell you, because in addition to celebrity guests, a silent auction and a six-course dinner, his Oscar Night includes a guess-the-winners contest.