Being a chef, I find that most cookbooks I read tend to have
a particular format. Many seem to give you a bit of information
about the chef at the introduction. Then move on to describe
the biggest sellers in the chef's recipe catalog. Alan Wong's
New Wave Luau cookbook is that and more. It actually goes
into great detail discussing indigenous Hawaiian cuisine.
Chef Wong isn't one of these chefs that can only open a Hawaiian
restaurant, in Hawaii, because he is Hawaiian. This guy is
a world-class chef that could open a French restaurant in
New York and compete with the best of them. He was born in
Japan and moved to Hawaii when he was 5. With aspirations
of being a professional baseball player, he worked as a dishwasher
through high school and stayed on and off with the same hotel
until he felt the call to go to culinary school. Returning
as a cook in a coffee shop, then moved on to another position
in a country club until he graduated from culinary school.
Soon he became restless and realized that he needed to leave
Hawaii. Accepting an apprenticeship to The Greenbrier Hotel
in West Virginia. With the help of the F&B director of the
Greenbrier, he met André Soltner of Lutèce in New York City.
Beginning in 1983 at the age of 26, Alan Wong started his
ornate 3-year tenure.
If you've read this far, you're probably wondering, "What
about the food?" First off, you'll need to constantly check
the Glossary in the back and keep up with the mini-descriptions
that follow each recipe. Initially, I didn't know what half
the ingredients were or how to replicate them. For instance,
Li Hing Mui Chutney? Reading further you'll figure out it's
something that can easily be made in any professional kitchen.
With ordinary ingredients even. The photography in the book
is amazing. The food is very colorful with classic plate presentations.
Everything about the book is great. It will fit very nicely
on my bookshelf as a new reference for Pacific-Rim cuisine.