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Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener

Restaurant Insider

February 28, 2021

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Anne Lee and Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener executive chef Diego Pacurucu sit down for a meal. Pacurucu and director of operations Manny Cournede oversee the daily operations at the restaurant.

ANNE LEE speaks with Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener executive chef DIEGO PACURUCU

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse was created by Wolfgang Zwiener with his son Peter and other colleague in 2004 in New York. With the knowledge and expertise he acquired in the more than 50 years in the global food and beverage and hospitality industries specializing in USDA Prime dry-aged beef, many locals and visitors anticipated the opening of the Waikiki location in 2009.

Now, with close to 30 locations globally, I was able to experience the level of service and understand what makes this restaurant extraordinary.

Tenderloin Medallions ($12)

AL: What is your full name and position at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse?

DP: Diego Pacurucu, executive chef, together with Manny Cournede, manager and director of operations. We operate the day-to-day operations at the restaurant.

Tenderloin Kabob ($8)

AL: How long have you been here at this restaurant? What got you into the culinary industry?

DP: About 10 years ago, I was already working at the Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in New York, and the owner had mentioned that there was going to be a new location opening up in Honolulu, and I was chosen as one of the members of the training team to open up the Waikiki restaurant. Within a few months, we flew here with the intention of opening up the restaurant and flying back home, but I did fall in love with the culture and the aloha spirit so I never left Hawaii.

My older brother was in charge of running an Italian restaurant on the East Coast, and he would bring me there to help him cook and bus tables, and I realized that I enjoyed being in a kitchen and restaurant.

AL: When did Wolfgang’s Steakhouse first open its doors in Waikiki? How many other locations are there and where are they located?

DP: Since opening in Hawaii in February 2009, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener at Royal Hawaiian Center continues to be raved about for its phenomenal food, including USDA Prime-grade beef, which is dry-aged on-site, and exceptional service. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener will be opening its 27th location in Shenzhen, China, on March 5, its 28th in the Genting Highlands (Pahang), Malaysia, on April 1, and its 29th in Boston, Massachusetts, in May. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse is open globally across 10 different countries (U.S., Japan, China, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cyprus) and three continents.

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse was created on Feb. 26, 2004, having its humble beginnings from a small corner restaurant at 4 Park Ave. in New York — 17 years ago. Since then, it has become the premier steakhouse globally focusing primarily on USDA Prime dry-aged beef.

Taste of New York ($49.95) experience

AL: Out of the different steakhouses here in Hawaii, what makes Wolfgang’s unique?

DP: We do have a large dry-age room, where we keep the meat flown in from New York and dry age it for 28 days. All the preparation is done here. Our quality of the food is spectacular, not just the quality of the meats, but everything from the vegetables to the seafood.

Seafood Combo ($12)

AL: Does the restaurant have a specific motto or mission it runs by? What is your goal to its customers?

DP: We have a few but as a chef I focus on, “Where every steak comes out sizzling.” Our goal is to provide our guests with an ultimate dining experience by focusing on quality of the product. For example, when I cut a piece of salmon to prepare, I can see how much they will appreciate the quality of what I am going to serve them. It makes me happy and proud to create that experience for them.

The secret to our success is to keep it simple and concise, it really is all about sourcing the best quality beef in the market in a consistent manner — and in this case, USDA Prime black Angus beef. All our beef is USDA Prime coming from the best ranches and abattoirs in the country — and it is important to note that only 2% of all beef produced in the US is considered Prime. The beef is air freighted to us on a weekly basis, right after the cattle is slaughtered, in sub-primal cuts form. It is never frozen and it is dry-aged in each of its locations for an average of 28 days. But, in addition to this, Wolfgang’s has also created additional dishes that complement the beef such as appetizers, side dishes and desserts.

AL: What are the restaurant’s most popular dish?

DP: Our Taste of New York experience ($49.95) on Wolfgang’s Famous 808 happy hour menu is one-of-a-kind. It’s a 12-ounce New York sirloin served with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach, plus a sampling of Junior’s world-famous cheesecake .

Also on the happy hour menu is the Tenderloin Kabob ($8). We use large chunks of our tenderloin and marinate it with Hawaiian BBQ sauce, and add some local vegetables served over jasmine rice.

Tenderloin Medallions ($12) is a deconstructed steak tartare, served atop nice crispy crustini with tomatoes and onion. Our Seafood Combo ($12) is definitely a deal on the happy hour menu. It consists of two each of Ahi Tartar Crustini, Lobster Crustini and Crab Crustini.
On our appetizer menu, we have our sizzling Canadian bacon that you can order on the side at $6.95 per slice.

On our specials menu, we have our popular Lobster Roll ($29.95). This is 4.5 ounces of Maine lobster It’s made fresh and served in our signature onion roll. We make it to order.

AL: What are the future plans for the restaurant?

DP: Wolfgang’s Steakhouse Waikiki will be announcing an expansion of the Waikiki location later this year. Currently, we have expanded to include a large outdoor seating area that overlooks The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, Waikiki, which has allowed us to accommodate guests who prefer outdoor seating.

AL: Anything else you’d like to share about the restaurant?

DP: We are working on some new happy hour menu items, as well as some new dishes such as beef stew and fish tacos that we want to introduce sometime in March.

AL: What is your favorite part of your job?

DP: I love to prepare food for people, and enjoy making people happy, making their stomachs full.

AL: Any fun facts most people wouldn’t know about the restaurant?

DP: Our creamed spinach is very popular among our guests, but we do not put any cream in it. It’s a secret recipe!

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