Chef Erik was part of the original MAHINA & SUN’s culinary team that opened the restaurant in 2014 and has returned to lead the restaurant into its next chapter. He is a true local boy with Hawaiian, Chinese, and Japanese roots. The youngest of four siblings, he grew up in Kaimuki and his earliest memories are of his mother preparing one pot meals in the kitchen as he headed off to school. It was the love and flavors that she put into creating those dishes that comforted him when he returned from school to heat them up while the rest of the family was at work. This would eventually become the foundation for his cooking philosophy that began while attending Kaimuki Middle School where a chef visited for career day and Erik realized that being a chef was a possibility.
During his last year in the culinary program at the University of Hawaii Kapiolani Community College, Erik went to work as a dinner cook at TOWN restaurant. It was under the guidance of Chef Ed Kenney and his partner Chef Dave Caldiero, that Erik fine-tuned his culinary skills. Through them he learned the fundamental skills and problem-solving abilities of running a successful kitchen. Eventually as a sous chef, he became proficient in whole animal butchery and cultivated relationships with local farmers and fisherman.
In 2012, he was asked to join the opening team for Ed’s KAIMUKI SUPERETTE as Chef de Cuisine where he handled daily operations. During this period, he also ran the kitchen for the Town Hospitality Group, the catering arm of Ed Kenney and Dave Calidero restaurant corporation. In 2014, Erik was hand-picked to be part of the opening team for Ed’s MAHINA & SUN’s because of his years of experience with the company and his ability to execute Ed’s vision. Within a few short years, Erik was promoted to executive chef.
In 2019 Erik took a break to pursue opportunities in California, but eventually returned to Hawaii to apply his skills at MUD HEN WATER and PIGGY SMALLS, before returning the MAHINA & SUN’s in the summer of 2021 to help reopen and reinvent part of the menu with his local sensibilities to cooking. He has raised the flavor experience for guests with a variety of new dishes that are approachable and uncomplicated. He believes that a restaurant should be like a home, a place that is comforting and relaxing. He has instilled that principle with his entire team and has created a loving, flavorful environment that echoes that of his mother in his childhood kitchen, with an experience he calls Elevated Home Cooking.
When not in the kitchen, Erik is living the bachelor life in Kaimuki enjoying his hobbies: juggling, dodgeball, basketball, volleyball, weightlifting, Rubik’s Cube, anime, comics, and a lot of other random stuff.