Page 2 - Dining Out - Aug 15 2021
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 Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee
speaks with Aloha Wine Foundation master sommeliers founder and board chair
vice chair
scholarship committee chair
and G.Lion Group restaurant manager and sommelier
Photos by
T o unite, educate and inspire the Hawaii sommelier community is the intention of the Aloha Wine
Foundation. Founder Patrick Okubo and I m e t a t L a V i e re s t a u ra n t , a l o n g w i t h f e l l ow board members Ariana Tsuchiya, Rober- to Viernes and David Yoshida, to learn more about this new nonprofit.
AL: Why was Aloha Wine Foundation started?
PO: Last year, we lost many great people due to the pandemic in the restaurant/ wine industry, by moving or switching careers. We are still recovering, and wine-savvy people are hard to come by in Hawaii. We have to build people from within and train from the bottom up, and it becomes really expensive to get wine certifications. Being in Hawaii has disadvantages, as the higher level types of courses require travel to the mainland and become very costly — and you also need to buy a suit! All in, I think I spent over $15,000 to get this master sommelier certification. This foundation is meant to help facilitate that need, by giving schol- arships to people in Hawaii.
Prior to the launch of this, I discussed putting this together with this group here (pictured), as well as Sang Mun (som- melier with Pacific Club), Taro Kurobe (sommelier, assistant general manager and wine director with G.Lion Hawaii),
and Chris Ramelb (master sommelier of Southern Wine & Glazers), who make up the full board. This 501(c)(3) was ap- proved the end of May and now we are able to not just help Oahu, but it’s also a statewide outreach to people in the restaurant community.
AL: What is in store for the future of this organization?
DY: Part of what we do is gather all the sommeliers across the islands so that there is a sense of fellowship and guid- ance; we can learn from another.What we would like to do in the future is to work with other charities. For example, a non- profit that could use help with its wine service at a fundraising event, or having us as guest speakers.
AL: What does this foundation offer?
RV: Primarily, we will give scholarships to wine industry professionals on a need basis in Hawaii with a goal of creating more diversity and inclusion in gender and race. Secondly, we will provide ed- ucational events that not only educate, but also serve as a networking platform leading to job opportunities, mentoring and fellowship. I oversee accepting the applications and, together with the oth- er committee members, decide on who receives them. We encourage people to apply, as we give out $500 scholarships
Dining Out is a weekly advertising supplement published by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Visit us at
Nicole Monton
Phone: 808-529-4857
Anne Lee
Phone: 808-347-1093
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Dining Out
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