Travaasa Hana is pleased to announce the appointment of Derek Watanabe to executive chef. Watanabe will oversee the culinary team and all banquet and catering serves for the resort. Born and raised in Honolulu and specializing in regional cuisine, Watanabe comes to Hana with an extensive culinary and catering background. He was most recently the chef and partner of Café Julia and Laniakea Catering and chef de cuisine of Watanabe Weddings by Alan Wong in Honolulu. Prior to that, he was chef de cuisine for Alan Wong’s Restaurant, regarded as one of the finest Hawaii Regional Cuisine restaurants in the Hawaiian Islands. Before that, Watanabe was chef de cuisine at The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong in Honolulu. 

While Watanabe openly credits chef Alan Wong as his most influential teacher, he also draws inspiration from his cooking experiences around the globe. His diverse palette and East-West cooking techniques were developed from his chef positions at Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta, and the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and also has a business degree from National College in Colorado Springs, Colo. 
“We are thrilled chef Derek Watanabe has joined our team and are confident his expertise will help take our culinary efforts to the next level,” said Chris Manning, co-founder and president of Travaasa Experiential Resorts. “His passion for sustainability and cooking with a sense of place aligns perfectly with Travaasa’s commitment to providing authentic experiences for our guests.”
"Smoked Kalua Pig" with Cranberry Lomilomi Tomato
A Hawaiian twist to your Thanksgiving feast.
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  1. Ingredients: Smoked Pork Butt
  2. 1 pc./ 8 # Pork Butt-Boneless
  3. 2 oz. Hawaiian Salt or Course Sea Salt.
  4. Method of preparation.
  5. Rub Pork Butt with Hawaiian Salt.
  6. Ingredients: Cranberry Lomilomi Tomato
  7. 2 Cup Tomato - Medium Dice
  8. 1 Cup Dried Cranberries
  9. 1/2 Cup White Onion - Small Dice
  10. 1/2 Cup Green Onion- Sliced
  11. To Taste Kosher Salt and Pepper.
  12. To Taste Fresh Chilli- Minced
Preparation of Smoked Pork Butt
  1. Rub Pork Butt with Hawaiian Salt.
  2. Place in Hot Smoker for 4-6 Hours or until the pork is very tender and easy to shred. Adjust seasoning.Serve Hot with the cranberry lomilomi tomato on top.
Note: If a Smoker is not available
  1. Rub Pork Butt with 2 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke and the Hawaiian Salt.
  2. Wrap in Ti leaf or Banana Leaf then in aluminum foil. Place in a pan and in an 400 degree oven until very tender. Remove and shred. Adjust seasoning.
Preparation of Cranberry Lomilomi Tomato
  1. Salt the tomatoes to release the water for a few minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Place in a refrigerator.
Recipe provided courtesy of
  1. Chef Derek Watanabe
  2. Culinary Education Specialist
  3. Travaasa Experiential Resorts
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