Kaua‘i Chef Brings Local Flair to Kaua‘i Grill at St. Regis

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Kaua‘i Chef Brings Local Flair to Kaua‘i Grill at St. Regis

By Anni Caporuscio

Chef Noelani Lei Planas, born and raised on Kaua‘i, recently took the leadership position at Kaua‘i Grill.

Chef Noelani Lei Planas, born and raised on Kaua‘i, recently took the leadership position at Kaua‘i Grill.

What I love about dining at St. Regis hotels is learning how flawlessly they marry long-standing traditions present in every St. Regis hotel with local character reflecting the people and places they serve.

For instance, Kaua‘i Grill, St. Regis Princeville Resort’s signature restaurant, is a Jean-Georges Vongerichten-inspired restaurant. In fact, almost all St. Regis hotels feature a restaurant inspired by the French celebrity chef.

But our St. Regis has Noelani Lei Planas as its managing chef — and we are lucky for it. Born and raised on Kaua‘i, she recently took the leadership position at Kaua‘i Grill, and has a unique connection to the island’s offerings for flavors.

Vongerichten is a master chef who blends traditional French cuisine with Asian flavors. Heavy sauces typically endemic to French food become vegetable broths and spicy oils. It’s full flavored cultural chemistry, and a painter’s pallet for food.

With Vongerichten’s menu as a starting point, Planas crafted a new menu at Kaua‘i Grill, adding her own flair.

Rice Cracker Crusted Ahi Tuna with a citrus aioli green onion sauce. Like everything at the St. Regis, attention to detail is admirable, even down to the seven grains of sea salt on each delicate piece of seared fish.

Rice Cracker Crusted Ahi Tuna with a citrus aioli green onion sauce. Like everything at the St. Regis, attention to detail is admirable, even down to the seven grains of sea salt on each delicate piece of seared fish.

And it’s exceptionally delicious. Noelani personally designed a five-course menu for us, and sommelier William Fily complemented each course with a spot-on wine pairing.

Truly dedicated to her craft as a chef and exhibiting her passion for food in all her endeavors, Planas’ story is nothing short of extraordinary.

Now a highly accomplished chef, she started washing dishes for the legendary Jean-Marie Josselin. From there she peeled potatoes and slowly worked her way in the kitchen to sous chef.

Living in Las Vegas for many years, she mentored with some of the most successful and famous chefs in the industry.

Kaua‘i Grill signature cocktails, clockwise from center: Tahitian Pineapple, Ginger Margarita, Moloa‘a Mule, and Garden Smash.

Kaua‘i Grill signature cocktails, clockwise from center: Tahitian Pineapple, Ginger Margarita, Moloa‘a Mule, and Garden Smash.

Last February, she competed against 1,200 chefs in the Starwood Hot Chef and Star Mixologist Competition in Chicago. Picked among five finalists — and being the only sous chef among executive chefs — she cooked her way to Hot Chef winner before a crowd of 3,000 people.

Kaua‘i Grill offers world-class service and dishes. It is an indoor restaurant with an urban-contemporary setting that gazes on the backdrop of Hanalei Bay. The restaurant has a complete wine-tasting menu and can accommodate private events.

Kaua‘i Grill is open Tuesday to Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. The restaurant is at St. Regis Princeville Resort at 5520 Ka Haku Rd.

Visit www.kauaigrill.com or call 826-9644 for more information or to make reservations.

  • Anni Caporuscio is a food lover and can be found daily at her Kapa‘a business, Small Town Coffee.
By | 2016-11-10T05:41:01+00:00 September 17th, 2015|1 Comment

About the Author:

Léo Azambuja, editor of For Kaua‘i, has won multiple journalism awards in the state of Hawai‘i, including investigative and enterprise reporting, spot news and feature writing, photojournalism and online reporting.

One Comment

  1. […] was at the beautiful St. Regis to have a personal tasting with the head chef of the Kauai Grill, Neolani Lei Planas, who had recently returned to Kauai after a 15 year stint at a number of prestigious restaurants in […]

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