Chef de Cuisine
Despite spending much of his life inside the kitchen, Makana
Terrace’s Chef de Cuisine William Chef has managed to get
around some. Born in Boston, he grew up in New York, then lived
in Shanghai, did two stages (culinary apprenticeships) in Paris
before returning to the East Coast and eventually relocating to
the islands—first Honolulu and now Princeville.
Part of what makes Chen an exceptional chef is that he has
taken all that he has seen and learned in a relatively short time,
and translated it into an understanding and execution of culinary
arts that is as deep as it is broad, resulting in an exceptional
experience for diners.
-By Jon Letman
Can you describe one dish guests might be familiar with which
you have recreated with a distinctly Hawaiian flare?
Our Hawaiian fish and chips is our take on classic ‘ahi poke. We
take boat-fresh ‘ahi mixed with bright local chili, buttery avocado
and macadamia nuts. We then fry our own taro and tempura
nori (seaweed) to make our chips. It’s a fun dish that really gets
What is your favorite Hawaiian ingredient and how do you use it?
Hawai‘i has so much going on, it’s hard to pick one single
standout ingredient. Baby abalone and Kampachi from the Big
Island can both be served raw or cooked in a multitude of ways.
I always try to have these items on specialty menus or for events
that showcase regional Hawaiian food.
You are a city boy at heart. How have you had to adjust your
cooking or kitchen practices working on Kaua‘i?
In the work place, I don’t think I’ve lost the “city” aspect of my
personality. I still walk fast and talk loud, but the major difference
with Hawai‘i is that the people you work with are more than just
co-workers. The culture here is so embracing, they look to make
that emotional connection with each person and Kaua‘i really
takes that to the next level.
What was the most important lesson you learned in your culinary
apprenticeships in Paris?
The biggest lesson I learned is that you have to love this to make
it work. The hours are long and the majority of the time you’re on
your feet working in a sauna. At the end of the day you have new
burns and cuts but a complete sense of accomplishment.
You lived in Shanghai for two years. What did you learn about
Chinese cooking from that experience?
Living there for two years really solidified my cultural ties to my
family. Living in China made me appreciate simple ingredients
and respect food in the sense that everything is used and nothing
is ever taken for granted which is very consistent with French
When you eat out on Kaua‘i, where do you like to go?
I had some fantastic smoked chicken at Chicken in a Barrel in
Kapa‘a and, of course, Hamura Saimin to curb my soup noodle
cravings. And my go-to is No. 1 Chinese. I love going to have
some fresh American-Chinese food, which is really nostalgic for
What’s the most compelling reason The St. Regis Princeville
guests should dine at Makana Terrace?
A highlight of the Makana Terrace is that with each meal you
can have three completely different experiences. Early risers
can relax into the day watching the sun rise while enjoying the
amazing breakfast table. For a more refined lunch, Makana
Terrace has a great afternoon menu and, of course, at dinner we
have the Mailani, Dinner Show on Thursdays as well as a fantastic
island-inspired dinner menu. We also have one of the best staff
anywhere. They go the extra mile to ensure each guest is having
a unique experience.