CHEF DAVID LUKELA at the Moana Surfrider’s Beachhouse Restaurant is always moving, though his cadence and manner are those of a true Hawaii local: relaxed, easy going and welcoming. His movements are deliberate and smooth as he cuts, assesses and tastes ingredients while preparing a plate.
Chef David was born and raised in Mililani in central Oahu. He loves Hawaii and derives his creativeness in the kitchen from the Islands. “I’m inspired by just living in Hawaii,” he says. “It’s basically as simple as that.”
When I caught up with Chef David, he was putting together a custom cheese plate with aged parmesan, blue cheese, prosciutto, honey, homemade raspberry sauce and fig leather, candied walnuts, almonds and fresh strawberries for “the real boss” in his life, his girlfriend. He carefully prepared and arranged the food, and, although the end plate was certainly gourmet, Chef David was humble and relaxed, clearly happy to be making something special for the love of his life.
While this exact cheese plate isn’t a menu item, cheese courses will play a role in some of the upcoming wine dinners Chef David is preparing over the next few months. Each dinner will showcase a different vintner with special food and wine pairings, culminating in a special December dinner featuring wines from Caymus.
“We’re doing something fun with wine,” he says.
Aside from specialty dinners, Chef David likes putting local touches on traditional favorites on the regular menu. His Italian carbonara pasta uses Japanese ramen noodles. It’s certainly an interesting take, likely only to be seen in Waikiki.
The ingredients Chef David uses are often locally sourced and always of the highest quality. Beachhouse is primarily a steak and seafood dinner restaurant, although its afternoon tea is also delightful.
After a little more than two years at Beachhouse, Chef David has made his mark. His passion for good food shows.“I love what I do,” he says. “I get to make cool stuff all day.”