Though he’s shuttered his signature restaurant in Honolulu, Alan Wong is deemed to be the richest celebrity chef in the world.

The laurel comes in an article, assembled by the Wealthy Gorilla (a site that assembles a variety of best-of lists and cites Money Inc. and Celebrity Net Worth among its sources), which says Wong’s net worth is $1.1 billion, topping an elitist Top 20 that includes household names such as Jamie Oliver (No. 2), Nobu Matsuhisa (No. 4), Rachel Ray (No. 7), Guy Fieri (No. 20), Bobby Flay (No. 9), Giada de Laurentiis (No. 17) and Ina Garten (No. 11).

“Alan Wong is the richest celebrity chef in the world,” the article says.

Alan Wong

Of course, we know him well in the islands; he’s one of 12 restaurateurs who founded the Hawaii Regional Cuisine to emphasize farm-to-table homegrown ingredients and diverse influences that created a then-new American regional cuisine.

His isle restaurants, plus one in Japan, enabled him to amass a cooking/restaurant formula that topped more than $1 billion.

Among his credits: serving as a judge on the Food Network’s “Top Chef” competition, but perhaps his best known feather in his kitchen cap, preparing a luau feast at the White House lawn for then-president Barack Obama, another local he did pretty well in polling. …

For the Top 20 listing and the story, visit https://wealthygorilla.com/richest-celebrity-chefs/

Hither and yon…

Johnny Valentine

Two shows at Medici’s at Manoa Marketplace that are worth checking out:

  •  Honolulu Jazz Quartet, July 16. John Kolivas and his jazz musicians perform original and popular jazz tunes.
  • Johnny Valentine Trio, July 17. The evening’s theme is “Hawaii’s Hits of the.  ‘70s,” so anticipate a menu of Cecilio and Kapono, Kalapana, The Sunday Manoa, Keola and Kapono Beamer and more.
  • For reservations, visit https://medicissupperclub.com/

Out Maui way, the popular Wednesday Hawaiiana event, George Kahumoku Jr.’s Slack Key Show, is adding a Saturday night extra, from 6:30 p.m. every Saturday (starting this weekend) from 6:30 p.m., at the same venue, the Aloha Pavilion of the Napili Kai Beach Resort. Get tickets at slackkeyshow.com, using promo code SAT25NOW. …

MVT’s ‘Daddy’ has ‘legs’

Manoa Valley Theatre’s “Daddy Long Legs” has “legs,” the show biz term to indicate power at the box office.

The musical, in its premier Hawaii run, has been extended for an additional four performances, at 7:30 p.m. July 16, at 3 and 7:30 p.m. July 17 and at 3 p.m. July 18. Because of the current pandemic, social distancing protocols prevail, with seats spaced out accordingly. Visit www.manoavalleytheatre.com

And that’s “Show Biz.”…


Dwayne Johnson seems to be everywhere these days, especially in the cinema.

His newest film, “Jungle Cruise,” takes its title from the Disney theme park adventure cruise up a river but has been transformed into an unexpected journey aboard a ramshackle boat down the Amazon. He plays Frank Wolff, opposite Emily Blunt as Dr. Lily Houghton, who enlists him to search a tree with healing powers that could change the future of medicine.  The cast also features Jack Whitehall, Edgar Ramirez, Jesse Plemons and Paul Giamatti. Opens July 30, 2021…and likely will be a blockbuster, considering the Disney ties. …

Johnson, Blunt in “Jungle Cruise”

Other Johnson flicks on the horizon:

  • “Red Notice,” a Netflix film featuring Johnson as an Interpol agent searching for an art thief, with Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds aboard for the ride. Rawson Marshal Thurder, who directed his blockbuster “Skyscraper,” is at the helm, so expect visual fireworks. Due this year.
  • “Black Adam,” playing the title character in a D.C./Warner Bros. release, originally destined to be a baddie in “Shazam.” Now the character gains its own movie, with Jaume Collet-Serra directing, following his association with Johnson in “Jungle Cruise.” The cast includes Noah Centineo, Aldis Hodges, Sarah Shahi and Pierce Brosnan. Due  Dec. 22
  • “Fast & Furious 10,” based on the late Paul Walker’s franchise (and now Vin Diesel’s trademark), in which Johnson returns as Luke Hobbs. The speeding roadsters include Diesel as Dominic Toretto, plus Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster and Sung Kang.  Directed by Justin Lin. Opening April 2, 2022.
  • “San Andres 2,” a sequel to the disaster adventure what amassed $473 million in world ticket sales, so a second installment is not a surprise. Alexandra Daddario is said to direct, but this one’s still in development.
  • “Doc Savage,” based on a pulp magazine adventurer, with Johnson as the lead. Shane Black is writing and directing. No timetable yet.
  • “Big Trouble in Little China,” the John Carpenter classic featuring Kurt Russell as Jack Burton, is due for a makeover. No timetable.
  • “The King,” which sounds like a flick about Elvis, is the much-delayed, multi-challenging biopic of sorts, about King Kamehameha. Johnson, who is part Samoan, Hawaiian and black, is eager to team up with directors Husain El-Minbawi and Robert Zemekis. There is hometown pride to create this one but expect controversy in the playout. Still on the drawing boards – and while Johnson has the physique to portray the king, the Hawaiian community may question ethnicity on this one. …

Food for thought

Lanai, left, and his Aloha Plate partners and food truck

Though Lanai Tabura and his cohorts of the Aloha Plate food truck were eliminated from the Food Network’s Food Truck series recently, the local boys made a good impression, as they have in seasons past (and having won the food truck during season four).  So kudos to Lanai, his brother Adam and fellow chef Shawn Felipe for bringing aloha to the nation via the TV show.

Food mattered, but so did the spirit of aloha, in competition and culinary savvy, and these guys were great chefs and embodied the Hawaiian spirit. …

Around town

Entertainer Willy Falk and his partner Andrew have been in and out of town, returning to their New York digs. They flew to Maui first, then paused in Honolulu, before flying home.

Willy Falk

And it was quite an experience. Their usual Maui hotel choice was going for $2,000, but they found a b&b at a more reasonable rate; rental cars were absurdly priced, but unavailable anyway, but located an affordable vehicle via Turo.com.

It had been a joyous but topsy-turvy visit, since they were even booed by Hawaiian activitists on Maui, shouting “go back home.”

Such is the tumultuous tone amid the visitor industry, as things return to normalcy.

Had a chance to dine with them at Assaggio Bistro in Kahala, which didn’t have our reservation but managed to provide a table, yet another small pock mark on the recovery process. The New Yorkers dodged Waikiki hotel rates (as if rooms were readily available) by staying at the Kaimuki home of the late Neva Rego, still occupied by her business partner Betty Grierson, so that was a blessing.

Willy had been signed to create and star in a Disney cruise on the East Coast, rehearsals for which were halted at the start of the pandemic, and soon will begin again, with plans to finally launch after this long delay.

Because Willy is a Punahou grad, he knew the late entertainer-philanthropist Joy Abbott, also an alum, so there was some discussion about her passing two years ago, and a memorial service held earlier this month. One thing we agreed on: Abbott not only was a wonderful singer and theatrical pillar, she missed her calling as a stand-up comic. “I once had a competition with Joy, to see if we could come up with 25 jokes with the punch line, and she won,” he opined. …

And that’s “Show Biz.” …


Back in the day, markets like Foodland, Times and Safeway didn’t exit. Perhaps Piggly Wiggly was around, but not readily accessible for most communities.

Thus, neighborhoods relied on mini-markets-on-wheels. The yasai man (yasai is Japanese for vegetables) used to make the rounds, a predecessor of food trucks. The visits could have been once or twice a week, depending on the community and the vendor.

Unlike today’s food trucks, these vehicles were laden with staples and treats. Pre-cooked meals were not part of the offerings.

The yasai man: a market on wheels.

My mom, and occasionally, my grandma, would come out of the apartment when the truck rolled into the driveway, usually with a blasting-horn signal. We lived in Liliha, then in the Kapalama area, and these merchants on wheels visited both locales.

The guy announced his arrival with horn-honking. Many apartment doors would fling open, and yes, the store came to you, not the other way around.

The offerings were included fresh catch of the day, like fish; deli staples like bologna (remember bologna sandwiches) or farm-to-table greens like lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes or watercress.

The vendor usually was self-employed, and traveled via a truck with a pull-up side, rear,or if his was a big truck, both sides, so customers could see his wares. Steak or pork chops? Maybe char siu? Hmmm, dessert like slices of pies?  Lots to ogle and examine.

Normally, a hanging scale was part of the yasai man’s necessities, to weigh potatoes or

onions. Prices were hand-scribbled; the guy used those ol’ pink market-style paper to wrap some of the meat purchases.

If I remember, some families were able to arrange “credit,” with the vendor logging your tab in tablets, assuming you’d pay up at the next visit. Cash was the desired payment form; no checks, nor plastic.

Kids used to show u to ogle the candy treats. Milk Duds. Nestle’s snow-capped chocolates. Maybe packets of Juicy Fruit gum.

Don’t remember if the options included single-bottles of Coke or Pepsi but Orange Crush was available. (Aluminum cans were not yet born, so there weren’t bottle-recycling fees).

Ice cream was iffy; some vendors didn’t have a proper freezer installed in his van.

If a special occasion was coming up, mom could order a fresh chicken (head still on, legs dangling) or — a treat! – a couple of steaks for pan-frying or hibachi grill, for the vendor’s visit next week.

And so it was – a few precious moments when the store wheeled its way into your life.



Let’s face it. Creating puns is joyful fun.

So what if we all get engaged in formulating punny stuff, utilizing familiar titles, complete with a one-sentence explanation? It requires you to use your imagination – select a notable title, followed by a brief description. See examples below – did some quickie thinking and came up with these creations. The punnier, the better. You can do it, too, so give it a try …

A version (with different titles) is featured in a Facebook post; visit https://www.facebook.com/wayne.harada.5

The Impossible Drain – A plumber is enchanted with a windmill, so has a rough time unplugging stuffed drains,

Clothes Encounters of the Wurst Kind – A fashionista, obsessed with sausages and wurst, finds it impossible  to design dresses with hot dogs and wieners.

Hairy Plotter – a young magician gets infected with hairiness and thus is challenged to plot a career.

Gayder Ade – Gays discover a drink that protects their secret; useful if you’re still in the closet.

Burglar King – A monarch keeps asking, where’s the beef, when he knows he burgled the meat in the fridge.

Fellow, Dali! – An artist who paints the town, after meeting a matchmaker,  leading up to his opening of the Harmonic Gardens restaurant gallery.–

Fibber on the Hoof – A teller of fibs, who always escapes on foot.

Soaklahoma –Farmers from Oklahoma face a deluge caused by a tornado.

Scamalot– The nation is plagued by iPhone scam calls. A lot.

The Ring and Eye – A monarch in Thailand has visions of a prancing and dancing with a British nanny, et cetera et cetera et cetera.