Tommy Bahama is best known for casual yet chic clothing suitable for a tropical retreat. Their motto is “life is one long weekend,” to accompany their relaxed styles. In addition to their popular line of apparel, the company has a chain of 15 restaurants, including their latest installation in Waikiki.
We couldn’t wait to sit down with Executive Chef Andrew Warner to hear what the new restaurant has to offer.
WM: How long have you been with Tommy Bahama?
CA: As of the beginning of January, this will be four years. I was with the Scottsdale [AZ] location for the last three and a half.
WM: What made you and Tommy Bahama decide to come out here to Waikiki?
CA: This was a good opportunity. This is probably going to be the flagship restaurant. They talk about how beautiful the restaurant is. This has been a dream for a lot of guys in the company for a while. To be selected to come over here and be the chef of the Waikiki location was a pretty big honor. So far we have an awesome team and we’re starting to see just how talented each individual is. I’m fortunate with the people we’ve surrounded ourselves with.
WM: How do you like Hawaii so far and how long have you been here?
Chef: It’s been great. I’m lucky that the first month I wasn’t in the restaurant. I got to go do some hikes, and I made it up to North Shore and did some golfing. I got to see Hawaii. But right now, I’m here at the restaurant. This is where I’m at for a while.
WM: What do you think makes this location unique?
CA: I think the importance of Honolulu is being able to tie our brand and what we do in with different parts of the world.
WM: Are you making Hawaiian-influenced dishes and using locally sourced ingredients?
CA: Oh absolutely. That’s always the goal. Even though we have some similar dishes on our core menu, we try to source as much locally as we can. So tomatoes, could be from Kunia. Our lettuce is going to solely come from a farm called Mari’s Garden in Mililani. Which is really cool because they’re growing lettuce just for Tommy Bahama’s. It’s all aquaponic and sustainable. It’s really pretty. I went around when I first got here before we opened to try to figure out what’s unique to Hawaii and what we can do to support the community here. It’s also a better product when it comes from somebody’s backyard as opposed to coming over on a barge.
And of course all of the fish. We do a lot of specials, and we see whatever is coming through the fish auction and try to make sure we have good sustainable practices as far as going with good sources. The fish auction here at Pier 38 in Honolulu, that’s the way to go to buy fish.
WM: I have to ask, if you had to choose one favorite dish from the menu, what’s your personal favorite dish?
CA: There’s a few different dishes that I really like. I think that for me, the scallop sliders from the appetizers. You can’t go wrong with that. I recommend that to everybody. And I also like what the chefs come up with as well. Whether it’s something that I come up with or one of the sous chefs, there’s a lot of passion in that and it shows. We sell a ton of fish specials because there are a lot of passionate chefs in the building, and then we have a great team that goes out and talks about it to the guests as well.