Hawaiian Airlines Appoints New Executive Chef Team and Featured Chef Members
Hawaiian Airlines appointed husband-and-wife team Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka, owners of Honolulu’s MW Restaurant and Artizen, as its news executive chefs.
They will oversee menus from the carrier’s onboard Featured Chef Series. They also will curate First Class meals for inbound flights from the US mainland, outbound flight meals to South Korea, and all cabin flight meals between Hawaiʻi and Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Ueoka previously prepared meals for Hawaiian’s guests as a featured chef in 2016 and 2018. The airline’s first executive chef duo replaces Chef Lee Anne Wong, owner of Honolulu’s Koko Head Café, who joined the Featured Chef Series in 2015 and has served as executive chef since 2018.
“Our Featured Chef Series has developed into a top-rated meal program that celebrates the vibrant culinary scene and outstanding agricultural bounty of our islands,” said Renee Awana, managing director of product development at Hawaiian Airlines. “Lee Anne Wong has played an innovative role in developing this program, and we are thankful for her time as both a featured chef and our executive chef. We offer her our sincere gratitude as she passes the torch to Chef Wade Ueoka and Chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka.”
Ueoka was born and raised on Oʻahu and graduated from the culinary program at Kapiʻolani Community College. From his humble beginnings as a fry cook at Zippy’s Restaurants, he became chef de cuisine at the nationally recognized Alan Wong’s Restaurant. Ueoka has worked at several acclaimed eateries, including The French Laundry in Napa Valley, California, and Alex in Las Vegas. He has been recognized nationally as a Rising Star Chef and has received numerous local awards for being one of Hawai‘i’s leading chefs.
Karr-Ueoka, one of Hawaiʻi’s premier pastry chefs, was born and raised in Honolulu. While attending the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, she discovered a love for cooking after working at Alan Wong’s Restaurant.
Karr-Ueoka attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and later worked at various award-winning restaurants, including Daniel and Per Se in New York, and The French Laundry in Napa Valley. In over a decade as a pastry chef, she has been recognized as a semi-finalist of the James Beard Award and received the Rising Star Chef Award as a pastry chef.
In 2013, Ueoka and Karr-Ueoka opened Oʻahu’s MW Restaurant, which the James Beard Foundation nominated for Best New Restaurant in 2014. In 2015, the couple opened Artizen by MW in Honolulu.
Hawaiian Airlines’ Featured Chef Series, now in its 6th year, offers meals to First Class (US mainland) and Business Class (international) guests with menus designed by a rotating roster of Hawaiʻi’s established and emerging chefs.
The carrier’s Featured Chef Series now includes Eric Oto of Hoku’s at The Kahala Hotel & Resort, Robynne Maii of Fête, Dell Valdez of Vein at Kakaʻako, Jason Yamaguchi of Mugen Waikiki, and Chris Kajioka of Miro Kaimuki.
Celebrity Chef Chang-Wook Chung of Seoul’s Kumsan Noodle Factory will continue to design menus for passengers on Hawaiian’s inbound flights from South Korea.