EXECUTIVE CHEF Sandy TuasonBy: Fern Gavelek
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel And Bungalows
Best Cookbook For Newlyweds
A self-described “kid from Jersey,” Chef Sandy Tuason is a people person. The importance of family and learning firsthand from others are top priorities for the new executive chef at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows. The affable and relaxed Tuason, who is thoroughly in awe of the resort’s tropical, seaside digs, looks out over curling surf and muses, “My favorite thing about the Big Island is the people – they are all smiling.”
The Manila-born chef reported to the Kohala Coast in October 2009, on the heels of the Mauna Lani’s multimillion-dollar “refreshment.”
First things first, Tuason got acquainted with local food purveyors through personal farm visits. He also met hotel staff and collaborated on menu items with James Ortiaga, a former colleague who is now the Mauna Lani’s new executive sous chef.
Tuason came to the Big Island from the Four Seasons Resort in Nevis, West Indies. He earned his culinary chops in New York – where he trained under Andrew D’Amico, Daniel Boulud and David Burke – and then in London, next to Michelin-starred French chefs.
“I saw how these great chefs ran their kitchens, how they behaved, how they cooked,” explains the graduate of New York’s French Culinary Institute. “Now I look forward to creating great food for all of the Mauna Lani’s restaurants, including the employee cafeteria.
“Everyone should eat great food,” he says with a smile.
“First choice is The Joy of Cooking, then anything by Julia Child.” (He cooked for her 80th birthday celebration). “I also recommend Larousse Gastronomique, which is a great French cooking encyclopedia.”
ESSENTIAL KITCHEN GADGETRY.
“Hands and a spoon. I watch hands working in the kitchen – they demonstrate the expertise. Also, you need a spoon for tasting.”
“I have always worked on Valentine’s Day, and I’ll be working again – it’s the hotel’s 27th anniversary. After work, I’ll share some ice cream with my fiancée, Susan.”
“I like all kinds: jazz, blues, rock and classical. For favorite musicians, it’s a tie between Bob Dylan and Van Morrison.”
“Porsche – why not? Seriously, a 4WD Jeep convertible for fun in the sun.”
IN THE FRIDGE AT HOME.
“Ice cream and butter. As a kid, I loved mint chocolate chip. Now, one of my favorites is lavender honey. I look forward to tasting ice cream made right here on the Big Island.”