Archive for the ‘Hawaii food industry’ Category

Cemetery Pupu Theater and More!

June 18th, 2014

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

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.


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!

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Waimea Valley Closed for Repairs

January 7th, 2014

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.


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.

Save this date: Sunday, Nov. 24

November 6th, 2013

The Pacific Gateway Center is having their 4oth Birthday Celebration on Sun., Nov. 24 from 5 to 9 PM at Keehi Lagoon Memorial Hall. There will be Asian Pacific cuisine, entertainment and a who's who list of movers and shakers that have helped PGC in their mission to assist thousands of immigrants, refugees and low income residents find work or start new businesses over the years. As part of the 808HALT coalition on human trafficking, I've had the privilege of working closely with the PGC staff and can tell you they truly make Hawaii a better place for all of us.

The cost is $45 per person, but if you can't attend, please visit their website (click here) or call them at 851-7010 to make a donation. In light of recent cutbacks due to sequestration and the government shutdown, like many non-profits, PGC has had to tighten their belts and make changes in their operations. Part of that was moving their offices from the N. King street location to their Kalihi kitchen incubator site. They turned over their Lemongrass Cafe restaurant to Andrew Le, who is transforming the space into his first brick and mortar version of The Pig & The Lady, which has been a hugely popular food stand at the KCC, Blaisdell and Kailua farmer's markets.

Not coincidentally, my new November episode of Career Changers TV features a segment about Andrew and how he went from an interest in art to formal culinary training -- after working for free at restaurants just to get some hands-on experience before he committed to making a career out of his passion for food. For him, it really is art on a plate. You can watch the small screen YouTube version by clicking here.

In the same show, we also have a great piece on maestro Matt Catingub and the Hawaii Pops (here's that link). We included some brief musical interludes from their "Songs of Bond... James Bond" concert, but I wish we had more time to include performances by Cathy Foy-Mahi, Kristina Souza, Nathan Awaeau, and Sheena Easton. They actually had to add extra seats for late-comers who bought tickets at the door. I suggest you check out their site, and order tickets for the remaining concerts before those sell out too!

BTW, due to some technical problems, the Career Changers TV site still hasn't been updated for the November show. In the meantime, you can see segments from the current episode on the CCTV YouTube Channel (daily OC16 times listed on the website are still the same).

Menehunes Hoax, Miscellaneous News

August 26th, 2013

Thanks to the internet and YouTube, this blog and video segments from my Career Changers TV show has led to contacts from all over the globe. TV producers from the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and Food Network have either emailed me or been in touch with people who appeared on CCTV to do their own pieces for national audiences. Sometimes they use my stuff as research or backstory, which is cool. But last week I got a good laugh when I opened this email:

Hello, Rich - I am a researcher with a television production company located in Hampton, Virginia called m2 Pictures. We produce a documentary-style series for the Destination American Channel called “Monsters and Mysteries in America.” Within each episode of this series, we explore accounts of monstrous and mysterious happenings throughout the United States.

In our research, we recently came across reported encounters with the Menehune, and were interested in featuring those stories in one of our upcoming episodes. In each episode we invite locals, experts, and those who have personal encounters to participate in on-camera interviews to help us tell the most complete and accurate story of each paranormal phenomenon. I recently came across an article you wrote for the Star Advertiser discussing the potential discovery of a Menehune Village by photographer Ann Thompson. I was wondering if you might be interested in speaking with me about your knowledge of the Menehune?

She was referring to my Star-Advertiser blog that was posted on April 1 (this one). Somehow, the date didn't tip her off that it was a prank (and a plug for my unproduced family/adventure script based on the Menehune myths and legends). After I replied to her, she wrote back that she felt a "bit foolish," but took it all in good spirits. What's more, she was going to follow up on some of my other suggested contacts who may wind up on that TV show to talk about their paranormal encounters.


Speaking of local connections that have appeared on nationally-broadcast shows, I ran into Camille Komine of Camille's on Wheels food truck fame, at the annual Kailua Racquet Club Doubles Tournament last month. If you follow her on Twitter, you might have noticed she hasn't been Tweeting much about where she'll be next. That's because the club hired her to do their food service for  KRC members and tournament sponsors' dinners, which was a big hit. She's also been doing more private catering. In fact, she said Heidi Klum requested her to do all the cooking for Heidi's entourage when she was here in April (and got attention for saving her son from drowning). That was no April Fool's joke.

Camille has been featured on a couple of Food Network and Cooking Channel shows. The one she really enjoys talking about is Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, otherwise known as Triple D. According to her, Guy's research staff does a very thorough job of vetting possible candidates for the program, and she was certain that the piece we did on her for Career Changers TV helped convince them she would be good on camera. Here's that video link from our growing YouTube archives.

I asked if the Kailua Racquet Club experience has given her the itch to open her own full-fledged restaurant. She smiled and said there are no immediate plans, but I got the feeling that if the right location comes along at the right time, we may see her trade in her wheels for something with four walls and a door.


Also, keep your eyes open for a favorite of local foodies making their own move from farmers markets and pop-up kitchens to a new home once occupied by Pacific Gateway Center's Lemongrass Cafe on North King Street near Chinatown. Due to budget cutbacks, PGC is moving their offices to their Kalihi kitchen incubator location, and renting out the N. King Street space to bring in more revenue. An announcement should be coming in the next week or two about the new restaurant that I think is going to excite many folks.


You can still catch the August episode of Career Changers TV daily on OC16 until Sat., Sept. 7. Click here for viewing times and links to the CCTV YouTube Channel. Got more great stories for September, including some scoops you won't see anywhere else. BTW, I'm lining up sponsors for the big Halloween show and Christmas episode, so send me an email if you're interested in advertising!

Aliens Among Us

April 12th, 2013

Henk hat

Above: Henk Rogers, founder of The Tetris Company, Blue Planet Foundation, and the new Blue Startups accelerator project.

I wear a lot of hats between my roles as Career Changers TV producer, writer, and member of the 808HALT coalition to put a stop to human trafficking in Hawaii. But one common theme keeps coming up during my interviews and meetings: the need for immigration reform. Earlier this week we filmed a segment with Henk Rogers, the man who turned Tetris into a multifaceted business/social change empire based in Downtown Honolulu. He didn't invent the addictive puzzle game, but after he got the licensing rights and established a relationship with the Russian creator of Tetris, Henk was able to grow it exponentially as handheld game players and mobile wireless platforms came into being. One article I read describes him as a self-made billionaire.

He's also an alien of sorts: Dutch-Indonesian, born in Holland, moved to New York with his family when he was 11, studied computer science at the University of Hawaii in the 1970s (funny stories about his jobs back then, including driving for Charley's Taxi) and moved to Japan because that's where the action was in the early days of video games. Suffice it to say, he could live and work anywhere he wants. So why Hawaii? In part, it's because of our diversity and location as a crossroads of the Pacific. He's a global kind of guy. Actually, he thinks much bigger than that. One of his major missions in life is to promote space exploration -- and settlement of Mars as a starting point for transforming other worlds into places where humans can live. In effect, we'd become the aliens.

You may not be aware of HI-SEAS, which stands for Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation, but he told me that on April 15 they will be launching a 4-month long project on the Big Island to test foods that could be consumed in space. Awhile back they advertised for qualified volunteers, who were willing to simulate living on Mars during that period. I'm not fully up to speed on the details, but from what Henk explained, they will be living in close quarters (a faux space capsule) and have to wear space suits if they venture out. Mauna Loa was chosen because the terrain is similar to Mars. Beginning Monday, you can follow the project on Twitter.

There's so much more I could tell you about how that project fits into Henk's other missions -- like Tetris blocks, in a way -- and how a heart attack in 2005 was the impetus for him to start the Blue Planet Foundation here in Hawaii. Coincidentally, I recently blogged that many successful entrepreneurs I know of have had near-death experiences that caused them to reassess their "purpose" in life. As it happens, his goal of reducing our dependence on oil and eliminating carbon emissions, also aligns with segments we just produced about Pacific Biodiesel (currently airing on the April episode of Career Changers TV -- click here for viewing times).

One of the tangents we went off on involved immigration policies. Since he's in the high tech field, it's no surprise he -- along with scores of business leaders/job creators -- sees a need to allow more high-skilled foreign workers to come and stay in the U.S. because there is a shortage of Americans with those kind of math and science skills. Seems hard to believe, huh? Yet I've heard that same complaint from other CEOs on "60 Minutes" and read it in a few business mags.

However, Henk was also referring to the need for low-skilled immigrant workers because he's a proponent of sustainable agriculture. And he recognizes the fact that for all the talk about supporting local farms, the reality is we need to import laborers from other countries since there aren't a lot of Americans who are willing to do back-breaking work for the kind of wages that are currently being paid. He mentioned that as a result of his heart attack, he bought a ranch on the Big Island where he could get away and relax. He's also trying to do sustainable farming on the property, so he's witnessed first hand the difficulty of finding local labor for ag work.

Tetris lobby

In future posts, I'll tell you more about the interview with Henk and the new Blue Startups accelerator program he's backing for a mix of homegrown and imported entrepreneurs, who are now working out of his Harbor Court offices. Very cool stuff going on up there!

Tetris blocksIt's not your typical business environment. There's art work by Roger Dean, the guy who did the Yes album covers and original Virgin Records Twins logo -- which ties into Henk's story about a gift he recently gave to Richard Branson (just noticed in the lower left corner of the photo at top, you can see Branson posing with him). Of course there's a Tetris motif running throughout the entire place, including stuff like these stackable seat cushions. We'll begin airing the Henk Rogers and Blue Startups segments in May, so stay tuned for details.


Regarding the 808HALT human trafficking project (here's that link), one of the coalition partners is inviting the public to attend the Burmese Water Festival this Sun., April 14 from 9 AM until 2 PM at Wilson Elementary School, 4945 Kilauea Avenue. It's sponsored by the Myanmar Association of Hawaii and Pacific Gateway Center. There will be authentic Burmese food, "Water Throwing," and other treats for you to experience and enjoy.

It's just another reminder of how our wonderful mix of cultures and people makes Hawaii such a special place... even if many of us might be considered "aliens" by others. When you look at it from Henk's universal perspective, we're all just citizens of one Blue Planet. BTW, there's an interesting story behind the Burning Man Festival hat he's wearing in the picture that I'll share some other time!