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Chef Anthony Rush Joins forces with Chef Chris Kajioka to open new restaurant


Senia opening Spring 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii

Chef Anthony Rush first turned his sights from the U.K. toward the U.S. in 2002 when, at the tender age of 22, he left his role as Sous Chef of one Britain’s two Michelin-starred restaurants to work at The French Laundry in California. The five years that Anthony spent in both Yountville and New York City working with the iconic chef, Thomas Keller, provided invaluable experience and irrevocable, lifelong connections. Having now been back in his homeland for almost eight years, Chef Rush, currently Head Chef of Fera at Claridge’s, once again turns his attention west, this time even farther afield. He is collaborating with Chef Chris Kajioka to create an exciting new culinary offering in Honolulu, Hawaii. Their new restaurant, Senia, will open in the spring of 2016.

Rush and Kajioka will stand shoulder-to-shoulder at Senia’s helm, working in tandem to develop two very different menus under one roof. The two chefs met in New York in 2007 when they both worked at Thomas Keller’s three Michelin-starred restaurant, Per Se. Across oceans, continents and time, they maintained a friendship and the desire to someday work together again. Individually, the chefs have had incredible and diverse career paths that have granted them entry into some of the world’s greatest kitchens.

Between the two exists over three decades of combined culinary experience, covering a vast range of philosophies, techniques and cuisines. Now converged on the path to Senia, the team finds inspiration in each other’s talent and collaborates with one mutual goal in mind – to create delicious food and a convivial environment in which to enjoy it.

Chef Kajioka, a native of Hawaii and graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in New York, was recognized with award nominations by both the James Beard Foundation and Food & Wine Magazine during his tenure as Executive Chef at Vintage Cave in Honolulu. Chris caught the food scene by surprise when he left the city’s toniest and most exclusive fine dining establishment in 2014. Since then, he has been forging the new partnership with Chef Rush, combing Honolulu for the right location, and curating ideas for their new venture.

Having searched for almost a year, the Senia team jumped at the opportunity when the 75 N. King Street site became available in late 2015. Already lured to Honolulu’s historic Chinatown by the neighbourhood’s burgeoning gastronomic scene, vibrant energy and growing reputation as the city’s food and drink hub, the location immediately felt like home. So it should for Chris; his great-aunt and great-uncle used to have a sporting goods store in the very same listed building.

The name Senia is a play on the Greek word “xenia”, the idea of guest-friendship that defines the Greek ideology of hospitality. The restaurant was established with a base of friendship and a mutual passion for hospitality, and once opened, it will bring people together to share delicious food, well-crafted drinks, and genuinely good time in a comfortable, relaxed environment. Whether guests are craving casual, approachable food or a more in-depth gastronomic journey, Senia will provide.

The main dining room, which will be open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday, will offer a selection of the chefs’ favorite everyday dishes—delicious food that guests will return for time and again. Chef Kajioka explains, “We want to create a restaurant that we would go to all the time.” Chef Rush adds, “We really want people to be spoilt for choice. We want people to read the menu and think, ‘I want to try everything.’”

The more intimate Chefs’ Counter at Senia will serve a tasting menu that really showcases the chefs’ talents. It will serve dinner only, Tuesday through Saturday. Sourcing the highest quality seasonal and local ingredients, Chris and Anthony will work collaboratively to develop and evolve techniques and create original, inspired and beautifully presented dishes. Whether casual or more refined, all the food at Senia will celebrate the incredible bounty of produce that Hawaii has to offer.

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