LAHAINA – All of Hawaii is celebrating Government Sous Chef McKenna Shea of Lahaina’s Pacific’o on the Seashore. Lately topped champion within the season 54 premiere of “Chopped” episode “A bunch of abalone” on Meals Community, Shea took residence the $10,000 grand prize.
Certainly one of 4 cooks from across the nation who competed within the legendary “Chopped” kitchen, she gained over the judges by means of a collection of challenges along with her revolutionary cooking abilities.
To have a good time Shea’s necessary victory, Pacific’o on the Seashore is providing, from now till April fifteenth solely, a particular “Chopped”– Fried abalone platter impressed by Kula watercress, crunchy radish and Large Island abalone breaded with greens on a Nicoise French dressing.
Loving to cook dinner and be within the kitchen from an early age, Shea remembers making ready for large holidays like Thanksgiving ever since she may maintain a frying pan. “Actually, I’ve at all times beloved to cook dinner and have taken cooking lessons wherever they’re provided,” he recalled. “I used to be born in Texas, moved to Guam on the age of two after which moved to Colorado the place I went to highschool and culinary faculty. Shortly after commencement, I began working on the Ritz-Carlton in Denver, after which they despatched me to work everywhere in the nation. I moved to Maui 4 years in the past and dealing at Pacific’o on the Seashore is an ideal match for me!
In 2019, she joined Pacific’o on the Seashore as their youngest feminine chef and shortly turned a sous chef in 2020. She at present holds the title of government sous chef.
As a follower of “Chopped,” she has discovered that she holds herself to very excessive requirements and has been striving to win the competitors for the reason that very starting when she was recruited by the present.
The present found Shea by means of social media, the place she typically posts issues she’s been cooking and consuming, in addition to information about her life as a younger feminine chef. The method of interviewing and determining which episode and contestants she could be a greatest match took about six months. In September she flew to New York to movie the “A bunch of abalone” episode.
“As a lifelong fan of present enterprise and cooking, I actually felt like I had been making ready for this competitors my entire life,” he underlined. “Even now, it is nonetheless laborious for me to course of the second I gained. As quickly as I arrived, I began planning, realizing what was within the pantry, and fascinated about the route for dinner and dessert. I used to be strategizing for positive. I knew a salad was the best way to go to spotlight all of the flavors and textures after seeing the abalone, which in itself was new to me, and the ube cheesecake.
Shea admits that protecting her nerves in test was one of many greatest challenges she confronted throughout filming. After the primary spherical, she actually felt like she had an opportunity to win. On the present, 4 contestants – one from New York, California and Texas, with Shea representing Hawaii – are every given a thriller basket of substances which they have to craft into an appetizer, entree and dessert in three timed rounds. That they had solely 20 minutes for the primary spherical and half-hour for every of the following two.
“One of the simplest ways to arrange for a present like that is to work with a farm-to-table idea since you by no means know what you are going to get,” Shea mused. “Your creativity should at all times be prepared. You could be capable to cook dinner on a whim and get issues completed on the fly. With the mentorship of Chef Isaac Bancaco, the manager chef of Pacific’o, I used to be capable of broaden my horizon into Hawaiian and Asian delicacies and contemporary seafood, co-creating dishes with domestically sourced substances for an evolving menu and revolutionary. “For the competitors dessert, tackling a French chef who additionally had a background in pastry, I made an Asian pear raspberry compote and mascarpone whipped cream with worm salt on high of pavlova – primarily a skinny sheet of marshmallow that went crunchy in an oven at 500 levels. The judges beloved it!
Assembly his mentor, Chef Isaac, was essential for Shea. She knew immediately that she had met her best trainer and buddy.
“What I’ve beloved most about this final yr with Chef Isaac is the best way he has challenged me”, she stated. “She has consistently pushed me to remain centered and motivated and to be higher each day. Once I came upon that she has additionally made a profession of competing in cooking reveals, I used to be much more excited.
“Chef Isaac has been the mentor I’ve waited for my complete profession. He is a big within the sector, a real legend. He taught me many new recipes and strategies, and most of all he gave me the boldness to problem myself utterly as a chef. I could not ask for a greater teammate.”
Chef Isaac commented: “McKenna’s culinary maturity far outweighs his youthful exuberance and aptitude for business. Its means to light up the kitchen with 100% natural power, but genuine, has set it aside as “ChoppedChampion and can proceed to push it in his profession. Proud does not start to explain my emotions of victory, as that is just the start for McKenna. The world has had an hour to witness what I have been part of each day for over a yr.
Shea stated a dream she’s at all times had has been to be acknowledged as a chef on Maui who does enterprise with islanders who develop lovely produce. “Every year, I’ve been capable of develop more and more genuine relationships with farmers, fishermen and different companies by incorporating sustainable practices, supporting native farms, and utilizing every ingredient to its full potential to supply extraordinary farm-to-table eating experiences.” she defined.
“These group interactions promote an analogous objective of sustainability, which is essential when dwelling on an island.” Shea has additionally designed an business internship program, with help from Chef Isaac, which hosts college students from all over the world. They at present have two college students from the Culinary Institute of America in New York Metropolis on a 14-week work program.
“College students work on web site with the management crew within the Pacific’o kitchen, studying about cultural dishes and sustainability as a complete,” he observed. “I needed to intern the best way I used to be taught by Chef Isaac, a real pay-it-forward. College students can apply by e-mail. They’ll obtain credit score by means of their universities and, in Pacific’o, obtain a stipend as properly.
As for the “Chopped” prize cash, Shea stated she and her boyfriend, Dominick Montelaro, a ship captain for Teralani Crusing Charters in Kaanapali, wish to do a constitution, catering, non-public dinner, restaurant boat enterprise.
“It is my dream to purchase a ship in the future to do this sort of offshore exercise, so I am saving the cash for it.”
Residents of Lahaina and Maui can go to Pacific’o on the Seashore to strive Chef Shea’s successful dish, in addition to the opposite wonderful dishes she, Chef Isaac and their crew create.
Shea added, “We convey the aloha spirit to the whole lot we do. We attempt to cook dinner unimaginable dishes and, above all, to have respect for the whole lot round us”.