Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Wolfgang’s SteakhouseRestaurant Insider
April 4, 2021
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
ANNE LEE speaks with Hawaii Agricultural Foundation executive director DENISE HAYASHI YAMAGUCHI
This week, Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi, executive director of Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, shares more about Food-AGo-Go Restaurant Week, and all the delicious ways that readers can get involved for a good cause.
AL: How did you come up with the Food-A-Go-Go Restaurant Week?
DHY: Hawaii Agricultural Foundation launched Food-A-Go-Go on March 23 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It ended its 2020 Localicious campaign, which only recognized restaurants that bought local, and began Food-A-Go-Go as a new initiative to support all restaurants who were hurt by the government shutdown of in-person dining. Food-A-Go-Go was provided as a community service marketing platform by HAF as a way to drive traffic to restaurants that were open for takeout, delivery or curbside pickup as an alternative means of providing meals for their families.
Food-A-Go-Go Restaurant Week is a marketing campaign and extension of Food-A-Go-Go that encourages our local community to continue supporting our restaurants with takeout and delivery, and now dine-in as an option. Restaurant Week also features a special dish or prix fixe menu created just for the week.
AL: What is the goal of Restaurant Week?
DHY: The goal is to support the local restaurant industry by driving traffic to participating restaurants. It also supports HAF’s K-12 agricultural education programs through an online auction, Bid It to Win It for Ag Education, which happens simultaneously. Participating restaurants and hospitality industry partners have donated exclusive items, such as hotel staycations, chef-curated desserts boxes, special dinners, gift cards and memorabilia.
AL: How can readers participate?
DHY: Readers can go to foodagogo.org where they can find a list of our participating restaurants and what specials restaurants are offering as part of Restaurant Week.
AL: Can you name a few specials that restaurants are offering?
DHY: We have a wide range of restaurants participating from mom-and-pop establishments to fine dining. There’s something for everyone. Chart House has Ahi Mignon; and Roy’s Hawaii (Oahu locations) will serve a Kampachi Crudo with Yuzu Kosho, White Soy & Jalapeño. Diamond Head Market & Grill has Spicy Korean Chicken and Kalbi Ribs Combination with housemade kimchi, served with rice and green salad.
Basalt has a three-course prix fixe menu: choice of starter, Hawaiian Heart of Palm Remoulade or Mushroom Barley Soup; choice of entrée, Mixed Seafood Paella or Grilled Ribeye Steak; and choice of dessert, Basque Cheesecake or Coconut Cake.
AL: What is the Bid It to Win It for Ag Education online auction?
DHY: This benefits HAF’s K-12 ag education programs, which have served over 18,000 stu dents since 2014. Through these programs, HAF addresses our need for more farmers, and encourages our keiki to look at agriculture and food-related industries as viable career options. The average age of a farmer in Hawaii is 60 years of age, so we really need to spark an interest in our kids to want to become farmers, ranchers and/or fishermen before it’s too late. The silent auction will open online on Monday, April 5, and run through April 30. It’ll be accessible from foodagogo.org.
AL: Wolfgang’s is donating five $100 gift certificates online for the auction. What other types of items are up for auction?
DHY:We have several unique items that have been donated for the online auction such as hotel staycations, restaurant gift certificates, special dining experiences, memorabilia and chef-curated boxes.
AL: What do you see for the future of restaurants in 2021?
DHY: With more and more people getting vaccinated and people feeling comfortable with travel and dining out, the future for restaurants looks optimistic in 2021. With travel to Hawaii coming back, outdoor weddings now permitted for 100 people and youth sports teams being allowed back in our parks, it’s all very good signs that we are moving back to normalcy and in the right direction. However, having said that, the situation is still fragile. We must continue to be diligent about good hygiene — washing hands, mask wearing and 6-foot distancing. It would be devastating for all of us to go backward.
AL: What has been the most challenging thing you have faced in your career?
DHY:The most challenging thing I have faced in my career is one that I continue to face every day, and that’s earning people’s trust and respect. Building a reputation as a trustworthy partner and as someone who can make it happen is difficult because it requires earnest consistency. I take every responsibility as a challenge and every opportunity as a gift and work at being a good steward of our mission and delivering the best possible products and/ or services to our stakeholders every day.
AL: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
DHY: HAF’s Food-A-Go-Go Restaurant Week would not be possible without the support of our sponsors: Sysco Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines Bank of Hawaii Elite Mastercard, Atlas Insurance and our many media partners. We are also very grateful to the co-chairs of this campaign — Toby Tamaye and Chase Kurosaki — and their Food-Go-Go Restaurant Week leadership council, including you, Anne, and the many influencers and volunteers who have made Food-A-Go-Go Week possible.