James Beard tasting dinner at Azure Waikiki

Days like today really make me appreciate my line of work. While i could just as easily have been pushing papers behind a desk in a cubicle, or laboring in the hot sun on a construction site, Instead, I spent the day at a luxury resort, and the evening in a world class restaurant.

A view of the office:

Anyone who has been through Waikiki in Hawaii will likely recognize this bright pink resort. Its nearly impossible to miss. I was fortunate to call this gorgeous place my “office” for the day.

Tucked inside the Royal Hawaiian Luxury Resort, right on the beach, is Azure.

An exquisite dining experience on any given night, with nothing but the finest crafted dishes, freshest local seafood, and the high quality service you would expect from a restaurant of this caliber.

Everything that comes out of this kitchen is gorgeous. As you can clearly see. If you’re in or heading to Waikiki, and are looking for an amazing beach-side dining experience, Azure comes highly recommended.

However, tonight’s menu was something  special. Three renown starwood chefs were at Azure, offering a VIP preview of their menu that they will be presenting at the James Beard House in New York. Now, if you’re not familiar with the James Beard awards, essentially its the country’s most coveted honor for chefs; food and beverage professionals; broadcast media, journalists, and authors working on food; and restaurant architects and designers. Think, the Academy Awards for food.

Chefs Jon Matsubara, Colin Hazama, and Darren Demaya really showed what they are made of tonight. And i was lucky enough to be invited to witness the magic.


Masterpiece created.

Kona Cold Baby Abalone Confit, Waipio Valley Warabi, and Lomi Lomi Ahi made up the Canape Pass.

Chef Jon Matsubara working on his dish

“Keahole Lobster”

Opal Shiso, Hearts of Palm, Grapefruit, Mustard, Ginger, Pipikaula, Carotene Roe
paired with Veube Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Rose Brut 2004

Chef Colin Hazama applying the final touches.

“Modern Style Lau Lau”
Buttermilk Poached Hawaiian Butterfish, Smoked Alii Mushrooms, Luau leaf, Cabernet Poi Essence
paired with Au Bon Climat Chardonnay, “Sierra Madre Vineyard” 20

Trying to sneak a peek while Chef Darren Demaya finishes up the entree

“Olive Oil Slow Poached Maui Cattle Company Strip-loin”
Big Island Honshimeiji Mushrooms, Taro Puree and Szechuan Peppercorn Reduction, Foie Gras Truffle Mousse
paired with Agricola Querciabella Mongrana 2008

And of course, no fine meal would be complete without a delectable dessert.

“Sweet & Sour Lilikoi Panna Cotta”
Maui Pineapple Clafouti, Waialua Chocolate, Crystallized Ginger Ice Cream
paired with Tintero Moscato D‟Asti 2010

„Hawaiian Chocolate‟ Petit Fours & 100% Kona Estate Coffee

Thank you to Chefs Jon Matsubara, Colin Hazama, and Darren Demaya for the amazing experience, and the delicious food. This truly is a meal worthy of that James Beard Dinner. Congratulations.

…until next time


© Chuco Townsend. Darq Labs Photography 2011

Wedding, Event, Food Photography. Honolulu, Hawaii.


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