Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Podmore

Restaurant Insider

January 15, 2023

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: Anne Lee

ANNE LEE speaks with fashion show producer/director, event producer and “model whisperer” LYNNE HANZAWA O’NEILL

The fabulous Lynne Hanzawa O’Neill (aka the “model whisperer”) is the epitome of New York City style and sophistication — and infused with aloha, right down to her Locals brand rubber slippers.

Bloody Mary ($15)

A fashion show producer/director and event producer for 43 years, she was born and raised here in Hawaii, makes NYC home and lives here a few months out of the year.

When looking for the ideal lunch spot, Podmore was the perfect choice. The ambiance and subtle nuances make it feel like you are in an NYC restaurant — not to mention some of the material/decor you see inside are genuinely from the city. The food speaks for itself.

Full English Breakfast ($28)

Everything chef Anthony Rush creates is made from scratch, and you can’t find a full English breakfast like his anywhere else.

AL: How did you get to be Lynne O’Neill?

LO:I was born in Hawaii and moved to Los Angeles when I was 3 but spent summers here with family. I worked at Dole Pineapple Cannery (where Costco Iwilei is now) for two summers and Kings Bakery when it was on King Street.

Christmas Breakfast ($24)

I studied art history at UCLA and then volunteered at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which led to a temp job at Macy’s San Francisco in public relations and special events.

I then moved to Tokyo and began producing fashion shows on my own upon returning to San Francisco. In 1990, I moved to New York and produced New York Fashion Week runway shows for designers and fashion events for retailers and publications — I was executive producer of Honolulu Fashion Week 2014-2016.

Roasted Pork Bun ($8)

My 43-year career also includes launching events with The Rolling Stones and Usher for Best Buy; fashion show consulting for CW’s Gossip Girl, Bravo’s The Fashion Show and Sex and the City: The Movie. I was the inspiration for the Margaret Cho character in HBO’s Sex and the City episode, The Real Me, and was also the fashion show consultant.

AL: Who are some models you have worked with?

LO: Naomi Campbell, Keke Lindgard (also from Hawaii), Alessandra Ambrosio, Gisele Bündchen, Heidi Klum, Coco Rocha, Ashton Kutcher, Pat Cleveland, Joan Smalls, Taylor Hill, Elsa Hosk, Karlie Kloss, Karolína Kurková, Liu Wen, Behati Prinsloo and Lara Stone. I’ve also worked with celebrity/guest models Queen Latifah, Anna Nicole Smith and Ireland Baldwin.

Rock Cakes ($6)

AL: Podmore’s location is the result of downtown Honolulu’s regentrification. What makes this place special for you?

LO: In 2016, my friends (the D‘Ascoli family) purchased the building that was vacant for close to nine years. Due for a major restoration the D‘Ascoli family converted the second floor to apartments and the ground floor as one space. The family sought a tenant that would fit the historical character of the building.

Striped Marlin Roll ($14)

They were close with Anthony and Katherine, owners of Senia Restaurant (located in another of D‘Ascoli family’s historic buildings in Chinatown). Together they developed this restaurant and kept the name of the building, Podmore.

AL: What has chef Anthony Rush prepared for us?

LO: Rock Cakes ($6 for four). The flavor changes with the season.

The Full English Breakfast ($28), is made from scratch, even the beans. It has fried eggs, bacon, black pudding, Podmore sausage, potatoes, tomato, mushroom and fried bread.

Sherpa Chai Iced Latte ($8)

Smoked Soufflé Pancake’s ($18) tableside presentation is amazing. It comes with berries, smoked maple syrup and salted butter.

Christmas Breakfast ($24) was created by Rush and his wife at home in the midst of a snowstorm during Christmas in New York. It has potato rösti, spinach, house-smoked salmon, double-yolk coddled egg and brown-butter hollandaise.

Smoked Soufflé Pancake’s ($18)

The Mele Kalikimaka Chung Chow ($30) has a pimm’s mixture similar to an English sangria, and it’s made with Jacoulot brandy and winter spices.They pour the mixture into your glass with homemade boba-sized ice balls in flavors of cranberry and pomegranate.

Sherpa Chai Iced Latte ($8) has Nepali black tea, Peruvian ginger, spices, sugar, and whole or almond milk.

It can’t be brunch without a Bloody Mary ($15). It’s made with Podmore’s bloody mary mix, Reyka Vodka and housemade pickled vegetables for garnish.

Off the evening menu, there’s the Striped Marlin Roll ($14) with smoked trout roe and finger lime; and Roasted Pork Bun ($8) with stuffing, crackling and apple sauce.

AL: What do you miss about Hawaii when you are in New York?

LO: I miss my mom and ohana; the natural beauty; warm fragrant breezes; the colors; local comfort foods (Waiola Shave Ice, cocoa puffs, Leonard’s malasadas, Zippy’s for saimin, teri stick and one scoop mac, Helena’s Hawaiian Food); the relaxed pace and the people. And I can wear my rubber slippers every day and everywhere!

AL: Anything else you want to share?

LO: In 1924, the Podmore Building was purchased by the Advertiser Publishing Co. Ltd., which owned the adjacent property where the Honolulu-Advertiser was published until 1928.

202 Merchant St, Honolulu, HI 96813

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best