Hawaii | Oahu | Travel | USA | West

Lunch at Hawaiian Airlines

Today I flew from Oakland to Oahu to attend the 2014 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. In the San Francisco Bay Area, it is so convenient to fly to the Hawaiian islands! And there is no other way to fly than Hawaiian Airlines (seriously, my opinion!).


When I landed in Oahu I was invited to have lunch at the Hawaiian Airlines Headquarters. Hawaiian Airlines has generously sponsored my flight to Oahu this weekend and our hosting me along with The Modern Honolulu hotel and the Oahu Visitors Bureau.

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My first flight with them was this past March when I came to visit the Big Island and Maui. It was an amazing experience and the more I learn about them the more I love them.

chef Chai Chaowasaree, the Executive Chef, Hawaiian Airlines

Like being the only US airline that serves a free hot meal. I recently interviewed Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree, and having experienced seen three meal services on board, I can tell you that there is a lot of care that goes into the meals and a keen sense of island pride in the products and snacks they support on board.

One of the other things I recently learned about Hawaiian Airlines is that they travel internationally! They service destinations in Asia and the South Pacific – Australia, American Samoa, Philippines, Tahiti, Korea, and Japan (4 spots) and they just added Beijing this year. What’s really cool about that is if you are flying to say Tokyo, you can stop in Hawaii for a stay…call it an extended layover, and then continue on your way – kind of cool!

I like the idea of going through customs on my return to the U.S. in Hawaii rather than San Francisco or LAX, just feels like it would be way easier!


I met up with my Hawaiian Airlines hosts for lunch in their beautiful cafeteria. Look at all that light and airiness! A beautiful place to eat and interact with your fellow colleagues. One of the executives who stopped by to say hello said there is a company-wide rule that says if you are going to eat something that requires utensils, you need to eat it in the cafeteria. That instills a sense of community, people aren’t hunched over eating at their desks. They are taking a break, enjoying some natural light and Vitamin D, and interacting with their co-workers, I like it!

The cafeteria is run by Chef Mark Noguchi a well-known celebrity chef born and raised in Hawaii. When I went to make my selection for my lunch, there were too many choices! One thing I went with was something I had never tried before, Pa’ i ‘ai.

It is taro (kalo) pounded by Mana’ai and sauteed with Hawaiian salt – it looks like pork belly but tastes like heaven! Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and with a pop of salt.

It was delicious with my Pork Luau Stew with roasted pork shoulder, luau leaves, pickled onion, smoked macadamia nut, and Hapa Rice – at an office cafeteria…get out!

Stress-free flight to Oahu…check! Delicious lunch…check! Hawaiian old-style gracious (to quote a very smart lady)…check!

I could not ask for a better start to the weekend!

Throughout my weekend here in Oahu, I will be attending several Hawaii Food & Wine Festival events including Corks & Forks presented by Hawaiian Airlines, keep up with me on Twitter and Instagram additional blog posts all throughout the weekend.


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  1. Hawaii is one of my dream location to visit! Although I’m not from the US, but it’s always nice to see people’s positive experiences with airlines that operates where I wanna go one day 😀

    1. @Orsi, the people of these islands are nothing short of remarkable, some of the nicest people I have EVER met.

  2. That food looks delicious! 🙂 Lucky you for getting to go to Hawaii–it’s on my travel bucket list. I’ll have to remember all of the great things that Hawaiian Airlines provides whenever I start planning that trip.

  3. WHAT?! Wait. What? How did you manage to get Hawaiian Airlines to bring you to Hawaii!? Can I go with you next time? I can drive right up to Oakland, haha! Not even kidding.

    1. @Nancy, I was lucky enough to meet and work with them last spring and have continued the relationship – they are a wonderful group of people and a great airline!

  4. This is amazing office cafeteria food! Great rule about eating in the cafeteria. So many times, people are so concerned about getting the work done that they forget to enjoy each other.

  5. What an amazing oppourtunity and you captured it perfectly! Hawaii is def on my bucket list and now that I know they serve a hot meal I’ll have to take that trip with Hawaiian Airlines 🙂

  6. I had to check the date on this since I saw the party pics on another post you shared! Ahhhh I would love to go back to Hawaii soon. Thank you for virtually taking us with you!

  7. My parents live on Maui and I’m on the mainland. Whenever I fly to visit them I ALWAYS fly Hawaiian — they have the best customer service and I love their meals (seriously). They are my favorite airline by far!

  8. Would definitely love to head to Hawaii with such an airline – I’m not much for meat, but I’m sure they have amazing meals in general from what you’re saying! How lucky you were to interview the chef, such a cool experience it must have been!

    1. @Camila, there are tons of non-meat dishes for sure, Hawaii has such great agriculture, especially on the Big Island – mushrooms and fruits – delicious!