Executive Chef Emphasizes Passion

Hanh Pham, Reporter

Starting off as a dishwasher, local boy Thomas Ho’s perseverance and passion for cooking allowed him to advance in the kitchen. Now, he works as an executive chef at 53 By The Sea, in charge of over 30 people, including dishwashers, prep cooks, line cooks, and sous chefs.

53 By The Sea is a five-star fine dining restaurant which offers a view of Waikiki and Diamond Head; its menu offers dishes that range from $25 to $150. After searching for months, and going through several people who auditioned for the position, the managers chose Ho as their new executive chef. Coming in, he revamped the establishment’s menu and selected new chefs that he believed would benefit 53 By The Sea.

In 2000, Ho was learning fundamental skills at the French Culinary Institute in New York. Then he worked as a line cook, a banquet chef, a chef tournant, assistant chef, sous chef, and eventually, became owner of his own eating establishment, Society Cafe, which won the award of best restaurant from Esquire. Just before taking the position at 53 By The Sea, he worked as Chef de Cuisine at Orchids.

Specializing in “New American cuisine,” Ho strives to make his food “flavorful” and “visually attractive.”

Speaking at Radford High School on Jan. 14 for Career Day, he gave practical advice to students who wished to become chefs. Ho said that being an executive chef did take time away from family, as restaurants are busiest during the holidays, which is usually a period of reunion. He also said that “any job requires passion,” and “you have to dedicate your own time” in order to be successful.

Executive Chef Ho suggests going to culinary school in order to learn the basics, and that it takes persistence; students shouldn’t expect to instantly open a successful dining establishment three years out of culinary school.