One-Minute Interview – President Galea’i
President Galea’i has been the Executive Chef at Pounders Restaurant for just a few months now, but he has worked at the Center before, so he has about 5 years under his belt so far. His first job was as busser at the Gateway Restaurant. Everyone in the area knows that the Galea’i family has a long-established presence in the La’ie area. For Prez, that means he’s a bonafide La’ie Boy. He and his wife, Kaonoulu Hanohano Galea’i, are the proud parents of 3 children.
How are you filling your days?
I’m working on recipes and trying to fit in local dishes and flavors for Pounders Restaurant. We want to be ready to reopen!
What do you do to keep your spirits up?
I like experimenting with different dishes and being able to create and share unique items.
Can you tell us about another time in your life where you may have utilized your Polynesian culture and practices to guide you through challenges?
Growing up in the Galea’i Family, a family focused on entertainment, fireknife dancing is one of the main art forms literally passed down to all of us. Just to share how deep the art of Samoan Fireknife Dancing and the Polynesian Culture Center are in my Galea’i family, my dad, Tafili Galea’i, was the first fireknife dancer for both the Historical Hukilau Luau and PCC.
Later, he went on to serve as an Ambassador for both Hawaii and Samoa, enabling him to travel the world. My Aunty, Vatau Galea’I, was the first female fireknife dancer. My uncle, Pulefano Galea’i, created a bigger platform for world recognition of the art of fireknife dancing through the popular World Fireknife Competition, held here in the Polynesian Culture Center. This event provides an opportunity for the next generation of fireknife dancers to showcase this high-octane art form and to take it to another level. I have two brothers who are World Fireknife Champions – Alex Galea’i and David Galea’i. They have also passed down their skills and art to their children. In fact, David Galea’i’s daughter, Jeri Galea’I, is last year’s Women’s World Fireknife Champion along with many more accolades under her belt. If you have not watched her documentary on YouTube, go HERE and check it out! My sister, Maliana Galea’i Ava, who is an instructor in the Center’s evening show, HA: Breath of Life, has also passed her talent down to her children and they are champions of the World Fireknife Competition also. I love seeing all my nieces and nephews, and my kids, enjoy the art and share their talents with others. We are drinking the water from the wells that our ancestors dug so it’s important that we dig new wells for the future.
I passed the same art down to my children and it has helped them share their talents through service while blessing them with this unique skill that brings such enjoyment to others through gigs and competitions. We have enjoyed participating in the World Fireknife Competition every year. Although it was sad that everything was canceled this year because of COVID-19, I know that we all are looking forward to next year’s competition. Fireknife has taught my kids and I how this unique skill can relate to life – we know that we can overcome fear and challenges through the Fire!
What are you looking most forward to doing once the Polynesian Cultural Center reopens?
Serving unique island fusion dishes and giving a special experience for our customers. And to see people happy!