Although we are already in the first few days of 2017, we’d like to take the time to take a look back at 2016, which was truly a banner year for The Pig & the Lady. Aside from the opening of our newest location, Piggy Smalls, we also had the great honor and privilege to win 5 accolades at the Honolulu Magazine Hale Aina Awards. There were also a couple of national television appearances and special staff outings that strengthened the bond of the Pig crew and ohana.
2016 also was deeply personal for the Le family as Mama Le and Chef Andrew (along with siblings Alex and Allison) made the trek to Hanoi, Vietnam for a family trip and culinary research, tapping back into the roots and flavors of the ever evolving motherland. So, let’s take a quick look back on memory lane on a truly memorable year:
Staff outing to KU’UOLA RANCH OYSTER FARM — For one day, we got to all go to the beach, learn about our Ku’uloa Oysters and where they come from (Mōli‘i Pond) and had a great time hanging out with Chef and TV host Jessica Sanchez Montoya, who was in town to shoot the season finale of her Zagat web series Foodways. You can watch the episode below:
OUTSTANDING IN THE FIELD — A high profile event from this worldwide outdoor dinner tour. These people do dinners on Mt Fuji, in Chile, all over the world and the concept to to feature what that land has to offer which in turns to a very special dinner. We had to honor to cook for 150 guest in Ku’uloa. Watch the highlights here! The Ko’olau mountains are so powerful and breathtaking. So happy we were able to do this.
VALENTINES DAY — Just wanted to highlight this auspicious day, because of the funny viral video promos we did like this one with Chef Brandon ala LADY AND THE TRAMP.
PASTRY CHEF GINO! — With Rachel Murai reinventing the Pig & the Lady dessert program and making soft serve our signature with our crazy flavors, we were sad to see her leave. After much consideration, and Rachel's blessing, we decided to promote within and give Gino Ojano the task of taking over our dessert program.
Now many of you see Gino and a very shy, lovable, sweet guy. What we saw in him was a fighter... Determined to succeed, humble, thoughtful, and precise in his vision of what he wanted to do with the dessert program. Promoting Gino was a no brainer and we think his thoughtful approach to his desserts is very similar to Andrew's approach is to his food. Gino has since assembled a great loyal team, creating new signature desserts that really capture his love for food and his playful yet serious personality.
NORDSTROM GRAND OPENING — To date this was out biggest catering job ever. We had to do 21,000 portions of food and about 20 different dishes. It was a huge challenge for us and Chef Brandon took the lead on this project, which took him two weeks to coordinate. Sequestering him away from his day-to-day duties at the restaurant, he was indefatigable and pulled off a successful event for such a major client.
SEATTLE! — We were able to close for a week and take a long awaited break. A few of us flew to Seattle for some quick R&R and to visit peers. We were honored to eat at Renee Ericksson’s restaurants and enjoy her food. It was not planned, and she discovered that we were in town from our social media feeds and now, we are collaborating with Ericksson and her team from the famed restaurant Sea Creatures next week with the next Outstanding in the Field event! More info here.
RISE HI — Chef Andrew and Alex participated in this event, highlighting entrepreneurs in Hawaii. They both got on stage to present The Pig & the Lady story. The two brothers sort of fumbled their way on stage, not being well versed public speakers, and they were both very nervous, but they pulled through!
PIGGY SMALLS OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT — We also finally made the official announcement of the second location after months of negotiations and finalizing the lease at Ward Village. We were jumping into the fray once again!
PIGS TO NYC! — It was Chef Andrew’s turn in the roster of chefs highlighted in Hawaiian Airlines’s first class meal service and his turn was officially kickstarted with a major event in New York City to welcome the docking of the Hokulea arriving in the city midway through their journey across the globe. Chef and select crew flew to NYC to participate in the celebration and serve food, including participating in a food demo.
They also had a sliver of free time to hit up some major hotspots including Katz Deli, Prune, Ramen Lab, Marea, Momofuku, Uncle Boons and many more.
HALE AINA NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED! — To our surprise, we were nominated for 5 awards. Pinch us.
WE GET SPIRITED AWAY! — In collaboration with Hawaii Theatre Center’s Hayao Miyazaki Film Festival, we hosted a SPIRITED AWAY dinner and encouraged diners to come in cosplay, dressed as their favorite Miyazaki created character. It was a sold out event and truly one of the highlights of the year. We were all transported to the wonderful world of Miyazaki.
“IT’S ALL IN THE REFLEXES.” — This was probably the biggest highlight for us, when Kurt Russell (Jack Burton himself) dined in our restaurant with his partner Goldie Hawn! For diners who have been to our Chinatown restaurant, you may know we have a restroom in honor of Chef Andrew’s most favorite film of all time, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA starring Russell as the one and only Jack Burton!
PIGGY SMALLS CONSTRUCTION BEGINS — We finally got the green light to start the build out of our second location. We also had the unrealistic goal to open at the end of September. We were off by a month, so not bad!
FREE MILITARY LUNCH — Thanks to an anonymous donor (a regular diner at The Pig & the Lady), who had the requirement for us to provide free lunch to the U.S. military with this donation. Therefore, we worked with Kaneohe Marine Corps and provided 600 lunches for young privates or have no family on island. We filled a lot of tummies that day.
NEW CHEF IN TOWN — We were very fortunate and honored to bring onboard Keaka Lee as Chef de Cuisine, who had just moved back from NYC after working in such revered kitchens like Gramercy Tavern. Keaka and Andrew make a great team, and the younger cooks are lucky to work under him.
FUCK! THAT’S DELICIOUS — Chef Andrew and the restaurant was featured in the Hawaii episode of Action Bronson’s food and travel show FUCK! THAT’S DELICIOUS on Vice channel. It was definitely a crazy episode.
HALE AINA AWARDS ARE FINALLY HERE — Never would we think that we would win 5 awards at the Hale Aina Awards including Best Oahu Restaurant and Restauranteur of the Year. It was all a dream that night at the Royal Hawaiian, where the awards were held. It just fuels us to continue what we do and make great food! It definitely ups our game and we are determined to exceed that threshold in 2017.
PIGGY SMALLS OPENS! — We held a preview of Piggy Smalls at the farmers market. It allowed Chef Brandon to provide a sneak peek of his new menu and it did not disappoint. A week later, we had our soft opening at the Piggy Smalls at Ward Village. It was one of the most hectic months ever and we were completely fueled by ramen and lack of sleep, but we persevered and it was a great success!
HOSTING MORE CELEBS! — Hi, Jack Black!
HANOI TRIP — Chef Andrew and Mama Le traveled to Hanoi for a quick research trip. This being Mama’s hometown, she had not been back in over 60 years and there was some soul searching, as the family visited her old family home, which was seized by the government and turned into a tenement. It was emotional but apropos to go full circle. They also had some amazing street food, including visiting the now famous bun cha restaurant where President Obama and Anthony Bourdain visited.
BLUUURRR — We are still recuperating from a crazy holiday season filled with a plethora of events, private parties, buy outs and record amount of customers who came to dine with us at our two locations. We saw the light at the end of the tunnel on Christmas Eve, when were able to come together as a team and break bread and enjoy each other’s company and also rate each other's ugly Christmas sweaters. It was a perfect capper to a crazy year.
We all look forward to another amazing year and will work extra hard to really be a vital component in Hawaii's amazing culinary scene. Just as long as you keep coming, we will be there cooking away. Mahalo and Chúc Mừng Năm Mới (Happy New Year)!