Archive for the ‘Hawaii food industry’ Category

To Tip or Not to Tip...

December 18th, 2014
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Ah, yes... Christmas, that time of year when I internally debate who deserves a tip or not. It started with the Christmas tree. Are you supposed to tip them for trimming the trunk and carrying it to your car? I left that dilemma to my wife while I charged $125 to my credit card. She felt it wasn't necessary since we were already paying a fair amount for a tree we'd be disposing of next month. Yet I felt a twinge of guilt when I heard the workers walk by, muttering something I can only surmise was related to my wife stiffing them. She was surprised when I told her about their grumbling. "They seemed really nice and cheerful when they loaded the tree!" she noted. Um, yeah -- because they were expecting a tip!

In past years I've tipped our mailman -- I mean postal worker person -- who was a woman. She earned it because she would hand deliver packages to our door instead of jamming them in the mail box like other post office workers often do, and we got our mail reasonably early each day. After she retired, our postal service has gone from so-so to terrible. Many days we don't get mail until after 6 PM. One of the workers apparently is dyslexic and keeps giving us mail for another address that is similar but on a different street. Another hasn't figured out that we live in a duplex townhouse, and gives us our neighbor's mail when a cursory glance at the name would  make it obvious that it should go to 801A, not 801. Sigh. No tip for you this year, tardy mail persons!

Another conundrum: Do you tip someone on top of their usual tip, such as the newspaper delivery person? Each month, I add a tip to my Star-Advertiser bill. In past years, I'd stick an envelope in the mailbox addressed to the "Newspaper Delivery Person" and include a small tip with a Christmas card thanking them for their service. Whereas our good mail lady always acknowledged tips with handwritten thank you cards after each Christmas had passed, our newspaper person never bothered with any such expression of gratitude. So, if you never hear a word from the person you tipped, is there any point in continuing the thankless charade?

Since we're on the topic, I never liked the "suggested" tipping structure for services based on price. It doesn't seem fair that wait staff at less expensive restaurants should get lower tips simply because that place doesn't charge exorbitant prices for food, even if they work just as hard or harder than the servers at the fancier places. Then you have the discounted bills courtesy of Groupon and Hot Deals offers, which prompt users to tip on the "full price"... which these days is probably inflated to offset the discount these restaurants are giving left and right to keep bringing in customers. Basically, the discount equals what I normally tip anyway: 15 to 20 percent.

Speaking of Groupon and Hot Deals, I had the unhappy experience of finding out that two restaurants I bought discount vouchers for had closed without warning: first, there was Mimasuya Italiano on Kapiolani. After I called to make reservations and learned they were shutting down indefinitely, I notified Hot Deals and they promptly credited the refund to my account. Then this past weekend, we heard from a server at the Fat Greek in Kailua (another Groupon deal) that The Grove was closed. We drove by on Sunday night and saw it was indeed shut down.

But Groupon didn't respond to my repeated requests for a refund. It was two days before a Groupon customer service person sent me an email, asking for details on The Grove -- even though everything he requested was already in my first two requests for a refund, and on their own Groupon! Sheesh. Suffice it to say, I'm no longer a fan of Groupon and my tip to others is be wary of buying too many discounted offers for businesses that may not be around in a few months.

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To see examples of superior local companies that won't be going out of business any time soon, check out this month's Career Changers TV show. You can find daily viewing times of our special Christmas episode by visiting www. CareerChangers.TV or watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Have a great weekend!

 

North Shore News

November 6th, 2014
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As Makahiki Festivalyou'll see on the November episode of Career Changers TV, which premieres Thursday night at 7:30 PM on Channel 12/high def 1012, Waimea Valley is adding a new twist to the start of Makahiki season: for the first time in years, they'll be hosting the Ke 'Alohi Hula competition -- unique because men and women compete against each other. There will also be Native Hawaiian games, crafts, entertainment and food. Plus, it's just $5 per adult and $2.50 per child!

Here's a short video we did with Richard Pezzulo, Executive Director of Waimea Valley. While we were there, we also got to sample the delicious food at their recently reopened Proud Peacock Restaurant. Click here for that video. They're open Thursday through Saturday from 4 to 9 PM (happy hour 4-6 PM, $5 pupu menu and $2 off drinks) and have a great Sunday Brunch deal: just $25.95 from 10 AM until 2 PM for a sumptuous buffet that includes prime rib and omelet stations, fresh baked pastries, and a beautiful setting. You can walk off the extra calories with a hike to the waterfall and restored hale!

Every time we do a shoot at Waimea Valley, there's something new happening. On our latest visit, we saw major progress on their hale restoration project, which we reported on earlier this year in this segment. Back then, they had just completed restoration of the amphitheater with the help of many volunteers. That same amphitheater will now be used for the Ke 'Alohi Hula competition next Saturday.

All of these improvements and increased emphasis on Hawaiian culture have not gone unnoticed by national and international media. I've seen articles popping up in major travel publications, and just yesterday saw a new show on the Esquire TV channel (Oceanic Cable 550/high def 1550) called The Getaway that featured Waimea Valley and the Haleiwa Farmers' Market, which takes place in their pavilion every Thursday afternoon. The guest celebrity for that episode was  Jack McBrayer, the actor who played NBC page Kenneth Parcell on 30 Rock.

As it happens, I heard about The Getaway filming on the North Shore from Fred DeAngelo, the chef/owner of Ola Restaurant at Turtle Bay, when we were shooting a new segment about Mermaid Kariel this past weekend. More on that in a future post. Fred and his wife, Cheryl, were featured on the Food Network's Chef Wanted show last year. Three chefs competed for the top job. I asked Fred how that worked out. Turns out the winner left after six months because his wife got rock fever. However, the restaurant is doing better than ever and we'll be filming a segment on them in the future too. In fact, there's lots more going on at Turtle Bay -- such as sustainability/environmental projects -- which I also heard about during our Waimea Valley shoot from Bonnie and Mark Howland of WHALE Environmental Services, who made a cameo in our Proud Peacock segment. They were at the park to discuss a renewable energy project that sounds really interesting... I'll be following up on that too!

The next airing of The Getaway North Shore episode will be this Sun., Nov. 9 at 10 AM, 6 PM and 9 PM (either 550 or 1550 -- check your onscreen guide). Ola didn't get much screen time due to all the other places and things they wound up showing, but had they been there while we were filming Mermaid Kariel's new Ola show (story-telling and lunch with the kids on the first Saturday of the month) I bet they would have used that footage. As part of her show, Fred himself carries Kariel to and from the ocean!Fred and Cheryl DeAngelo

That's Fred and Cheryl DeAngelo above, with Mermaid Kariel and the kids in background. BTW, Fred says locals are more than welcome to bring their children to the show and have lunch at Ola. Parking is free at Turtle Bay too. So if you're looking for an excuse to go to the North Shore, between Waimea Valley and Ola, you've got plenty of reasons to make the drive!

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For daily viewing times of my Career Changers TV show, visit our website. You can also see video segments from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel, now at over 700,000 views. If you're a local business that wants to advertise or be featured in an advertorial spot, send me an email! Hmm... seems like a number of our show sponsors have been getting noticed by national media on travel shows, the Food Network and HGTV (H20/Seabreeze had their jet pack on Hawaii Life last week). Coincidence?

Seeds of Hope

September 3rd, 2014
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PROGRAM ALERT: The new September episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM on OC16 (channel 12/high def 1012). For daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now has over half a million views!

August was crazy busy for me so I didn't have time to weigh in on the elections (no surprise Neil got trounced -- I've written in this blog that right after he got elected, he and his "team" promptly alienated supporters by ignoring them), Kawainui Marsh plans (I live next to the marsh and can tell you the same objections being raised now were raised over 10 years ago by residents -- and ignored by the bureaucrats who get paid to do these pie-in-the-sky fantasy park plans), or UH athletics/football problems (again, same old obstacles ignored by the State Legislature and public at large).

And yet, my latest show is about people who are doing positive things without government help or involvement! What started as a short feel-good piece on Seed Restaurant in Kaimuki, near Big City Diner, grew into something much bigger once I started talking to the couple behind the venture. I was a bit leery when I first read that it was affiliated with a religious ministry because I consider myself an agnostic and have issues with organized religions in general. However, Jordan and Sonya Seng, the couple behind Seed and Bluewater Mission in Palama Settlement are... well, different than what you might expect. They met at Stanford University. His background was in academia -- he wound up at Harvard, writing papers on nuclear proliferation/WMDs and warned about meddling in the Middle East back in 2001 before we invaded Iraq (his analysis was quite prescient). She studied music, sang professionally  (Jordan taught himself to play instruments so he could back her up) and acted in commercials, TV shows, musical theater productions. Jordan's stories about growing up on the run with his fugitive father is pretty incredible too.

None of that stuff is in the two-parter we're running this month. I'm saving their personal back story for a future show because I want people to hear why they started Seed Restaurant and understand that this is how change happens. They had no experience whatsoever in the restaurant biz. But they were trying to help the homeless, survivors of domestic abuse, sex trafficking and prostitution, ex cons... people who have largely been left to fend for themselves without the tools or resources to rebuild their lives. And here they are half a year later, with a thriving restaurant that sticks to their core principles of "justice." They are accomplishing more with far less money than city, state and federal agencies have spent on countless studies and pilot programs. Yes, it's on a small scale -- but that's how you tackle big problems: one person, one step at a time. I love what they're doing. Check out my show, and I think you'll be impressed too. Maybe even moved, like I was.

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Speaking of tackling, I have to get in some last licks about the UH home opener against Washington. Months ago when it was announced season tickets were at an all-time low, I used that opportunity to upgrade our seats at a decent price. We've been there at Aloha Stadium, rain or shine, win or lose, and stuck with them through the tough times, which made the winning seasons even more special. When Ben Jay commented that football might be dropped, I knew he was talking about a hypothetical scenario set in the future -- not something imminent. But I hoped it would light a fire and make people realize you can't take things for granted. Sure enough, there was a much bigger crowd for the first game than was projected. And the stadium management blew it.

My wife and I got there around 2 PM for the 4:30 PM kick-off and we could already see the parking lots were nearly full. Traffic was backing up around the stadium. Hundreds of people waited hours to get into the lot, then waited in lines for tickets, or gave up and went home. Not a great way to entice fans to come out to future games. Inside the stadium, it was obvious the management expected the dire predictions of a small crowd. There were fewer concession stands open than we've ever seen at a UH football game, including during the Von Appen Era.

This is what negativity and pessimism does. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. The team is expected to be bad, so people won't come, so we'll plan on them not coming, and then when they come, we won't be ready to handle the crowd, so they'll have a bad experience... and then the future crowds will meet their initial low projections. Sheesh.

My one gripe about the UH effort on the field was a moment of indecision by the coaching staff during the first half of a tight game: fourth and one inside the Red Zone. The Bows had Washington on their heels. Joey Iosefa was plowing over people. We had already scored twice on the Huskies defense. Now, if this was Navy or Georgia Tech, which runs triple option, they don't hesitate. They line up with the QB under center. Sometimes they snap it quick. Other times they try to draw the defense offsides to get a "free" first down. If the defense doesn't bite on the hard count, they'll call a time-out or take a delay of game penalty, then kick the field goal.

So why didn't we at least try to draw Washington offside BEFORE calling the time out, instead of running a trick play AFTER the Huskies had a chance to regroup? That's also what I don't like about the shotgun in short yardage situations. It literally limits your options on running plays and takes away the QB sneak. Heck, even back when I played high school football, the quarterback and center always had an "automatic" tap on the butt play to snap the ball if there wasn't a defensive lineman covering the center. With a running QB like Woolsey, that should be part of the short yardage package.

Anyhow, I still liked that they went for it on fourth down instead of just settling for the field goal. Like the folks who started Seed Restaurant, sometimes you have to take chances and have faith in people to make things work.

Cemetery Pupu Theater and More!

June 18th, 2014
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cemetery theater pix

Got plans for the weekend? If not, check out the Cemetery Pupu Theater on Fri., June 20 or Sat., June 21 (also next Friday and Saturday evenings as well). This new production focuses on real life people who practiced medicine in Hawaii during the 1800s and a composite character representing Native Hawaiian small pox victims. You can learn more about this unique Hawaiian Mission Houses program by watching the segment we produced for Career Changers TV (click here).

On Sat., June 21  from 1 to 5 PM, the Waimea Valley Summer Concert series kicks off with a great line-up: Jerry Santos, Brother Noland and Led Kaapana. Here's the commercial we did for them that provides additional details. Worth the drive up to the North Shore!

Speaking of Waimea Valley, they have a couple of other announcements. First, the Proud Peacock restaurant has quietly reopened for dinner on Thursdays through Saturdays 5 to 10 PM, and Sunday brunch between 10 AM and 2 PM. Excerpts from their press release below:

Originally opened in 1976, The Proud Peacock was a popular watering hole amongst the locals. There will be live music every evening and at Sunday’s Brunch. The newly expanded bar boasts a cozy tavern feel, serving up specialty cocktails, draft and bottled beer and a variety of wines to choose from... Newly appointed Chef Andy Dalan has an extensive background in the culinary arts. Winner of the 2011 Ilima Award for “Best New Restaurant” and the 2012 Rice Fest Competition. A graduate of the Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts program, Chef Andy comes to us with a vast diversity of experience from Marriott, Waikele Clubhouse, and Kapolei Golf Course to Roy’s add a few stints at places such as Formaggio Grill, Café Julia, and Hy’s steakhouse, to the mix and you’ve the makings of a fabulous Chef... Chef Andy has built a menu that includes Prime Rib, fresh fish, and local produce complete with some tantalizing desserts, everyone is sure to enjoy! Reservations are not required. (Parties of 8 or more please inquire at 638-5864). Keep up to date by following us on Facebook or visiting www.waimeavalley.net.

They are also looking for volunteers to help with the Kauhale Restoration Project, which Waimea Valley Executive Director Richard Pezzulo talked about in this segment we did on our February show.

... With the plans completed, and the foundation set for the first two of eight hale that will comprise our Kauhale site, we are looking for volunteer groups that would be interested in participating in our organized workdays to complete this project. We have had participation from WCCC, the Pu’a Foundation and Hina Mauka in the gathering and preparation of the materials used under the tutelage of Uncle Frances Sinenci, our goal is to complete this project by September. If you are interested in participating in this effort please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Athena Sparks at 808-638-5855 to learn more.

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For daily viewing times of this month's show, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV -- and don't forget, you can watch segments from past episodes as well on the CCTV YouTube Channel!

Posted in Career Changers TV, Hawaii food industry | Comments Off

Waimea Valley Closed for Repairs

January 7th, 2014
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One of our show sponsors, Waimea Valley, temporarily closed down the park as of Jan. 6 and plans on reopening Sat., Feb. 1. They will be doing rock slope scaling near the front entrance as a safety precaution while checking for stability of other rock formations and slopes that may require scaling measures. In addition, Executive Director Richard Pezzulo showed me some other things they're working on for the new year, which we'll be on the February episode of Career Changers TV.

First, the Proud Peacock restaurant should be open in February now that they have hired a new manager to run the once-popular eatery. He says it will be somewhere between casual and fine dining, with an emphasis on fresh local produce and meats. They're still working on completing the renovations, so we weren't able to get any photos or video of what the completed restaurant will look like yet.

Another new thing they're going to unveil is a hula competition in their recently renovated amphitheater. The twist is men and women will be competing against each other, which is how they used to do it there at Waimea Valley years ago. Besides that, Richard says they're looking into starting a North Shore film festival. Plus, they'll be continuing the summer concert series, which turned out to be a big hit with locals and visitors last year. Instead of taking the "Generations" theme approach though, they will use specific musical instruments as the theme for the three concerts. I'm guessing slack key guitar, ukelele... not sure what the third will be. Hawaiian steel guitar, perhaps?

During the temporary closing, their Haliewa Farmers' Market will continue on Thursdays from 3 to 7 PM in the front part of the park instead of the Pikake Pavilion. One of Richard's major goals for 2014 is to get locals to book the pavilion and other facilities at Waimea Valley for special events such as weddings, baby luaus, graduation parties and even business meetings or retreats. So far, he says it's been a bit of a tough sell because many people haven't considered the valley as an option before, and a lot of big family gatherings are planned long in advance. But if you or someone you know has a large party coming up, give them a call -- they're now offering all-inclusive packages to fit different budget ranges without nickle and dime add-on charges for every little thing. Here's their website link.

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Don't forget to check out the new January episode of Career Changers TV! Really good stories on the Hawaii Youth Symphony, Ashley Merryman's "Top Dog - The Science of Winning and Losing" book, plus  a piece on Roberta Oaks and her cool, retro-ish fashion boutique in Chinatown. For daily viewing times and links to the CCTV YouTube Channel, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV.