Executive Chef / Owner / The Pig
The term family meal takes on another meaning for 2014 James Beard Foundation Rising Chef of the Year semifinalist. Born and raised in Honolulu to Vietnamese parents, Andrew had an American upbringing, but a strong connection to his Vietnamese heritage through his mother's authentic food.
A 2001 graduate of St. Louis High School, he attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and completed the program in 2006. Andrew decided to return to Hawaii and immediately landed a job at Chef Mavro, under the tutelage of George Mavrothalassitis and Kevin Chong, Soon after Andrew was named Sous Chef.
An opportunity to explore a new restaurant concept that was becoming popular on the mainland was given to Andrew in 2011, where he started his now popular pop-up, The Pig & The Lady.
It's at the pop-up and the farmers markets that Andrew, along with Mama Le and the rest of the Le clan, cook up what is essentially family meal in the truest sense to those lucky enough to snag a table. The Pig & The Lady farmer's market stand is selling the family's heritage for all to eat, exposing Honolulu diners not just to the family's take on Vietnamese staples like pho and spring rolls but also fragrant chicken salads, vegetarian stews, and French inspired soups.
Andrew stepped back from the day-to-day of running The Pig & The Lady and focused on expanding his craft and culinary knowledge. August 2012, Andrew did a six-month stagé in San Francisco at the newly opened Rich Table, which has been nominated for a James Beard Best New Restaurant award.
Andrew has returned to fully focus on The Pig & The Lady and found a permanent home for the restaurant in Chinatown, Hawaii
mother / the lady
Lovingly known as "Mama Le" to her patrons, Loan Le is considered "the Lady" in The Pig and The Lady moniker. She is the epitome of the mom who would cook amazing homegrown and delicious meals for her family. Not formally trained, Mama Le developed her amazing Vietnamese and Vietnamese-inspired dishes, through trial and error, from being a professional homemaker.
She and her husband, Raymond, were refugees who escaped the fall of Saigon in 1975. They were on their way to Arkansas to join other family members who were sponsored by Christian families - even though she was nine months pregnant with her first child. But, a fateful (some say fortuitous) event occurred -- her water broke and she went into labor on a plane over the Pacific Ocean. Making an emergency landing in Honolulu, the Le's were rushed to Triple Army Medical Center, where she gave birth to Anderson. Given the option to continue onward to the mainland or stay in Honolulu, they decided to stay and set their roots in Hawaii, where they raised their four children. And as they say the rest is history...
Mama Le's contribution to The Pig & The Lady complements Chef Andrew's formal training and haute cuisine by injecting a sense of "home" and motherly love, which many can argue is what makes her cooking so universally praised. After years of hard work, she is living the dream of sharing her cooking to strangers who soon become "part of the family."
GENERAL MANAGER / THE OLDER PIG
Alex Le is all about the family business. Working with his immigrant parents, who started a small retail business selling wares at the Aloha flea market in the early '80s, Alex, along with his older brother Anderson, were there every weekend. The Le's soon swapped the swap meet for a small brick and mortar in Kaimuki, which became the original location for Toys N Joys, a toy and video game mecca for gamers, kids and anime fans for over two decades.
Once Alex graduated from high school, he became the general manager and soon, took over the business. After closing the store in 2013, and devoting his entire adult life up to that point for the family business, Alex was set to take a much needed vacation and travel the world. However, opportunity knocked when his brother, Andrew Le, decided to go out on his own and start a pop-up dinner in Kaka'ako. Alex soon immediately fell in love with the food business, especially when it converged with what he loved most growing up in the Le household, his mother's cooking being enjoyed by new diners. He soon saw himself as a purveyor of Mama Le's cooking and found the perfect format for it -- the farmers market.
Soon enough, he built a rabid and loyal following. Even though the brick and mortar has been opened for over a year now, the farmers markets are stronger than ever. Alex has organically found a new role in The Pig & the Lady as the head of farmers market and special events for the company and you may see him in a multitude of roles, ranging from serving you some curry at the farmers market, to overseeing a catered event, bussing tables and sweeping floors.
Alex loves what he does and sees the immediate reactions of happy faces from satisfied customers. To him, his customers are an extension of his family and FAMILY is EVERYTHING. Working alongside his brother and mom, Mama Le, and he's having a blast. That trip around the world will have to wait a bit longer.
chef de cuisine
Chef de Cuisine Keaka Lee became interested in cooking when he was a young boy. His fondest cooking memory was when he would help his grandma gather ingredients from Chinatown and cook gau (Chinese steamed rice pudding) and jook (Chinese rice porridge) for Chinese New Year.
"We would always be racing around before meter would expire," Lee said. "Cooking is an ever changing art that I've grown to love and appreciate. My curiosity is always to learn with endless creativity."
Born and raised in the Waialae-Kahala area, Lee brings a vast amount of culinary experience to The Pig & The Lady. After graduating with a Culinary & Pastry Arts Degree at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Kapiolani Community College, he gained experience in Hawaii at 3660 on the Rise and Alan Wong's. He then moved to New York City to work at the award-winning Gramercy Tavern and Untitled & Studio Cafe as their sous chefs. Lee’s heart never left Hawaii, which brought him and his wife back.
Lee's style of cuisine revolves around the community. "Cooking with a seasonal menu of elegant dishes with passion and rustic influences that showcase the restaurants relationships with local farmers & purveyors is what I believe in," he said.
Lee also won gold at the American Culinary Federation Nationals competition with Kapiolani Community College Student Team Hawaii in 2009.