HONOLULU (KHON2) — Isaac Bancaco has recently been appointed the new executive chef at Pacific’o on the Beach. You may remember him beating Bobby Flay on Food Network’s Iron Chef America alongside Ming Tsai.
Bancaco comes from Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese and Filipino backgrounds which he said shaped him into the chef he is today.
“At this stage in my career, our cooking and menu have been inspired by a myriad of experiences and draws. Some whimsical and risky, some by a memory I grew up with,” said Bancaco. “It’s tough to pinpoint, but I think finding my place in this culinary community has evolved into looking at the food of my peers and realizing how talented they are.”
He said growing up on the island with a Hawaiian family, he is drawn to the ocean and is proud to source local as well as showcase Hawaiian ingredients in each dish he creates.
” I love tinkering with ideas and food, but truly geeking out on the process and significance of an ingredient, how it’s grown and what it tastes like at its peak plays a huge role in our current menu,” said Bancaco.
He said having the dichotomy of splitting time between Kula and Lahaina during his childhood really foreshadowed his cuisine.
The idea of spending his school week surrounded by pasture, produce, farmers and ranchers in Kula and Upcountry Maui, and then heading to Lahaina for the weekends where he loved watching the boats and fishermen come and go through Lahaina Harbor, subconsciously became the catalyst of possibilities.
“The idea that you can take an ingredient from the mountain and blend it with something from the ocean, or a technique from one culture and cuisine and layer in another was absolutely intriguing to me,” said Bancaco. “It continually opens my senses to an infinite palate of ideas.”
During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month it is important to see representation in all aspects like media, education and in fine cuisine.
“It’s important to see representation in all aspects as it sets an example for kids today that they can do and be whatever they want,” said Bancaco. “Not even just kids, but everyone. Seeing people who look like you, doing what you aspire is incredibly motivating.”
He said being on Iron Chef America was exciting. Not only to represent Hawaiian cuisine but to also represent his Asian and Pacific Islander heritage.
“Iron Chef America is the fastest hour in culinary show business,” said Bancaco. “Five dishes composed for four judges, plus the beauty shots with no editing and/or swap outs. I was Ming Tsai’s sous chef as he led us to victory.”
Being named the Executive Chef of Pacific’o on the Beach is truly a homecoming for Bancaco. The restaurant is located on Lahaina’s famous Front Street and open Tuesday-Saturday from 5-9 p.m.
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Because summer months tend to be popular it is best to book a reservation in advance. You can do that by going to their website or on Resy.