Changes have come to Pounders Restaurant, and we want to share the news! Hukilau Marketplace announces our new Chef, President (Prez) T. Galeaˈi and General Manager, Dede Alo. We were able to sit down with each of them and learn more about their unique perspectives along with their vision for Pounders in the coming year:
Introducting Chef Prez Galeai and General Manager Dede Alo
President Tafilisaunoa Galea’i, rang in 2020 with a big announcement. He is the new Pounders Restaurant Executive Chef! He is excited to bring his 20+ years’ experience in the food industry to this popular Hukilau Marketplace eating spot. Chef Prez Galea’i savory palate comes from a culinary foundation of the wonderful island flavors, the genuine Polynesian traditions and the diverse melting pot of our beautiful Hawaii. His first job at the Polynesian Cultural Center was while he was attending Kahuku High School. He started as a dishwasher and has worked diligently and thoughtfully up the ranks. His experience within each section of food service provides him with a deep understanding of what makes, or breaks a restaurant. He and his wife, Kaonoulu lives in Laie and have two sons and one daughter.
Dede Alo was born and raised in California before she came to Laie to attend college. She and her husband are parents to 5 and grandparents to 15, and live in Hauula. Her career has taken her throughout the Continental United States and the Pacific Rim organizing various social and political events which have included senators, congressman, governors and even a US President.
Following the announcement of her promotion to the position of General Manager at Pounders, Dede wanted to share how excited she is for this opportunity. “There were many of my ancestors that took a part in building the Polynesian Cultural Center vision. For me, it’s carrying on the traditions, the legends and the legacies of my ancestors.”
“So that’s my dream stepping into the shoes of a general manager”, she continued. “There is so much to learn to keep the business running. I’m willing to learn it all, because of the accountability to my ancestors.”
Sharing their experience and vision
“We feel very blessed to have these highly qualified leaders taking the helm,” shared Greg Maples, Director of Food Services for the Polynesian Cultural Center. “Pounders Restaurant has become one of the favored spots for quality dining on the North Shore, both for tourists and our community members. It’s exciting to see Chef’s and Dede’s vision for bringing even more fresh, local flavors to the menu”.
When asked what possible changes might happen, both Dede and Chef Prez mentioned the emphasis to farm-to-table and a bigger emphasis on Polynesian infused dishes. “We are not looking to change our traditional items,” Dede explains. “I believe in working together with Prez so that we can come up with a great combination for our customers to love. In Polynesia, the best way you can show aloha is through your food. It gives customers that “Wow” experience, a warm feeling that makes you want to return again and again.”
Chef Prez added “I’m excited to be working with Dede too, to look where we can apply that aloha spirit, that La’ie love. La’ie love is different from anywhere else in the world. “
Supporting our student workers
One of the elements that makes Pounders Restaurant unique from the typical restaurant is the opportunity to work with and mentor the student staff from BYU-Hawaii.
Chef Prez has already experienced working with students on a large scale. “My approach working with the students over at my position with BYU-Hawaii was to help them to become leaders. That was my whole focus, to teach them what they need to do to become leaders. Every generation is different, you have to understand what you need to do to lift them up. You need to be understanding, making sure that they understand the end results, the end goal – and just understand them, so that they can perform to their best ability.”
Dede has also had the opportunity to mentor student workers since coming to Pounders back in March of 2017. “The students are amazing. I never thought that I would have enough room in my heart to love kids from all over the world. I’ve learned so much about the students that come here from different cultures. They have become my family. “
Sticking with the favorites while introducing new tastes
Dede and Chef emphasize that the main focus of the menu will continue with the signature dishes already popular with guests and locals alike. “You’ll still be able to order our amazing Kalbi Short Ribs, the Taro Chips with Marlin Dip, the Shrimp Tacos, Loco Moco, Tataki Salad and those amazing pizzas,” Chef assures us. “But we also want to renew our emphasis on the great flavors of Polynesian. “This begins with the freshness of island produce, meats and fish.
Dede and Chef believes in this approach so much, they’ve developed a vision statement to explain it.
The world is focusing more than ever on using local fresh-picked produce, maintainable fishing practices, and earth friendly/chemical free food production. This “new approach” is known as sustainable food sourcing, but to Hawaii this is nothing new. It is as ancient as our land itself, and we call it ahupuaˋa – a system that recognizes that our food sources and our bodies should be nurtured, respected and cherished. Pounders Restaurant honors this tradition with pasture-raised meats, beautiful fish from our local ocean waters, local produce raised in the hot island sun and an emphasis on natural ingredients, served with aloha.”
Dede wrapped it up beautifully. “I want our guests to feel the warm welcome of aloha the moment they walk into Pounders. From their first bite, to our spectacular desserts – we are here to share the love.”
Nina Jones, a mainland gal from way back, is now a transplanted Islander. With her husband of 43 years, she has lived in La’ie since serving as a volunteer at the Polynesian Cultural Center from 2014 – 2016. She is now an employee of the Center, working in the Marketing Dept. Her hobbies include swimming, traveling, studying and writing about what she is learning from the various Polynesian cultures. Her blogs focus on their history, beliefs, practices and – as an added bonus – delicious food! To her, Polynesia is not just a place to visit, it is a way to live and she is very honored to be able to be a part of their amazing world.