Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: MW Restaurant & Artizen by MWRestaurant Insider
February 12, 2023
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: Anne Lee
ANNE LEE speaks with MW Restaurant and Artizen by MW co-owner MICHELLE KARR-UEOKA
James Beard Foundation announced semifinalists for its 2023 awards on Jan. 25. Eleven Hawaii chefs were recognized, including MW Restaurant’s Michelle Karr-Ueoka, who was selected as a semifinalist in the Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker category.
The nomination criteria for the Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker award is a pastry chef or baker who makes desserts, pastries or breads; demonstrates exceptional skills; and contributes positively to their broader community.
We can honestly say that Michelle not only makes exceptional desserts and pastries, but her talents also go beyond her affinity for baking. Wade Ueoka (her husband) and Michelle also bring community to their restaurant by nurturing young chefs and letting them shine, while showing them the way of the restaurant world.
AL: One of the benefits of working at MW Restaurant or Artizen by MW is how you and Wade nurture your team and let your chefs shine. Why is this so important?
MKU: We realized that growing people is more important than ever. Through collaboration and working with these young chefs, encouraging them to create specials and different things to sell, they get to develop more of a sense of themselves and find their style of cooking. That’s something that I enjoyed when I worked at Alan Wong’s. You always want to show respect and continue on the person’s legacy. This was an opportunity that I was given, so I want to give back as well.
Chef Melanie Takeya, who is very interested in the sweet side, is a graduate of Kapiolani Community College’s culinary program and has been working with us for years. She has worked in a few small bakeries prior to joining our team and has a lot of talent. For Valentine’s Day, she created a red velvet cookie with a unique red-and-white checkerboard design shaped in a heart.
Chef Christian Inoue actually didn’t go to culinary school. He started in the back of the kitchen and Wade started to move him up. Christian is the creator of a new item that is on our menu: Scallop Dynamite ($22) served with fried nori tempura chips. The bottom is an edamame purée that’s topped with scallops, corn and warabi.
Chef Jason Wu created a Strawberry No-Bake Cheesecake (contact for cost) inspired by his girlfriend who made a similar dessert for him on Valentine’s Day.
Chef Kaleb Molina, who graduated from Leeward Community College, was the 2022 winner of 7-Eleven Hawaii’s annual culinary competition — with his winning dish, a vegan rigatoni pasta.
AL: Tell me more about your whole cakes?
MKU: Go to mwrestaurant.com and click “order online.” There are three sizes (6, 8 and 10 inches) for our standard and premium cakes. Prices start at $60 for a standard 6-inch round cake and varies based on size and flavors. Standard flavors are Valrhona chocolate buttermilk with feuilletine crust, lemon yuzu crunch, lilikoi chiffon or coconut chiffon. Premium flavors are rainbow, carrot or strawberry. We ask that you allow 72 hours for the cake to be produced. Once ordered, we will reach out for cake detail and preferences.
AL: There is a special drink you are featuring in February (The Elixir of Love) in collaboration with Hawaii Opera Theatre. Can you tell us more about this?
MKU: The Elixir of Love (call for cost) is made with Kohana Rum and named after the upcoming HOT production. When you show your HOT The Elixir of Love ticket stub, you will receive 10% off your bill until Feb. 28.
AL: Speaking of collaborations, you added a baby boy to your team. How’s mommyhood?
MKU: On Sept. 12, 2022, I gave birth to our son Ryeland. Being a mom is the best gift in the world. Every day he brings us so much joy.
AL: Anything else?
MKU: None of this would be possible without our wonderful team and supporters; we are grateful. We are always growing and are hiring line and prep cooks; you can email your resume to email@example.com.