Interview with Chef Chris Kajioka of Senia restaurant, Honolulu, HI

CHRIS KAJIOKA ‘05 is one of Honolulu’s most well-known and beloved chefs. Since childhood, he has never wanted to be anything other than a chef, and he has proven that he knows no bounds in perfecting his craft. Chris, a Honolulu native, received a degree in the culinary arts from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduation, he went on to work at Ron Siegel’s Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco and then Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York. Making his way west yet again, Chris worked his way up to sous chef at Aziza in San Francisco and then continued on to Blaine Wetzel’s Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Washington. Returning to his native Hawaii in 2012, he became the executive chef at Vintage Cave. Chris’ classical culinary training combined with his affinity for his own Japanese heritage results in his own unique style: inventive dishes incorporating techniques from contemporary French cuisine with a distinctly Japanese sensibility. At Vintage Cave, he earned nominations for the James Beard Rising Star Award and Food & Wine’s People’s Best New Chef, as well as being awarded a place in the “Top Ten Dishes of 2013” from Food & Wine. Closer to home, Chris has become a central figure in the Honolulu food community and remains a staunch supporter of local farms, artisans, and time-honored small businesses. In 2015, he joined forces with British chef Anthony Rush and began work on their forthcoming restaurant, Senia, which opened in December 2016 in Honolulu’s Chinatown. Senia offers a cuisine showcasing their mutual culinary pedigree, and explores and celebrates Hawaii’s abundance of ingredients. (Honolulu, HI)