The Truth About Colin Hazama From Alex Vs. America

Family memories form the basis of chef Colin Hazama's cooking. "I think any chef in the world has a core that really got them inspired and most times, it's coming from either their mothers or their fathers or their (grandparents)," he explained to Metro HNL. The cores in his case, he recalled, were twofold. First, his mother couldn't really cook. So, he spent time in his grandmother's kitchen. And second, when he was six, he was once offered a children's menu. His grandfather noticed how much this insulted him and offered the young chef Hazama the adult menu. He ordered lobster tail and ate all of it.

Since then, he studied the culinary arts and worked as an executive chef at The Royal Hawaiian, the youngest person to ever hold that post. However, as Honolulu Magazine reports, the pandemic ended that gig like so many others, forcing Hazama to pivot to operating a pop-up food operation called C4 where he offered, among other things, gourmet gummy bears. "My dishes allow me to showcase my island roots through elevated comfort food created by applying the most updated techniques to the best available ingredients locally," he says in the about section of C4's website.

Obviously, then, he has had a long term affair with food, following the ups and downs of such a career. We'll have to see how well he can bring those experiences with him when Alex Guarnaschelli visits for his episode of "Alex vs America."

Bring it on

According to the Food Network's website, only one episode of "Alex vs America" will feature a chef from Hawaii. It seems safe to bet, then, that chef Colin Hazama will be confronted with the challenge of shellfish — and that the show asked Hazama to compete in this episode because his wheelhouse encompasses seafood and shellfish.

Hazama's love for both his family and seafood meet in his take on his grandmother's recipe for shabu-shabu, a Japanese hotpot dish. As he shared with Hawaii Magazine, the recipe calls for water, bonito flakes, kombu, sake, and soy sauce for the dashi. Combine and simmer the ingredients without boiling before straining the broth. Then, the seafood includes a white fish, a pacific yellowtail, shrimp, king crab legs, scallops and cherrystone clams. For veg, bring carrots, white radish, tofu, bamboo shoots, bok cabbage, enoki mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, green onions, mountain yam gelatin, and udon noodles. Both groups should be on separate plates. When ready, heat the dashi and add the seafood, the shellfish, the vegetables, and the udon in that order.

"I've grown up with the Pacific Ocean surrounding me and being able to have a sustainable source of fish and shellfish in Hawaii is what makes our culture and cuisine what it is today," he explains in his mini-profile for his expert page on the Aquarium of the Pacific's website. The bio also notes that outside of cooking, his passions involve spearfishing and diving.