Chef de Cuisine
Born to “foodies,” Kevin Takei’s Japanese father and Irish mother introduced their son early to the joys of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and unusual cheeses. ”Everything I ate was fresh and cooked by my parents. I earned my first Boy Scout badge cooking Boeuf a la Bourguignon straight from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child”.
Kevin is the heart and soul of the Crave kitchen. His technique and vast knowledge of classical and modern preparations help Crave maintain balance of avante garde with food that makes sense. On a typical day you might see Chef Kevin monitoring several stocks, butchering the daily proteins, whisking the perfect meringue or sabayon, and receiving the fresh daily ingredients. From there he also writes many of Crave’s menus, executes order lists, prep lists, and maintains daily organization.
Takei was a natural for the Culinary Institute of America where he graduated with high honors, first in his class in 1989 and then was awarded the Culinary Fellowship at the CIA’s signature American Bounty Restaurant. This talented young chef moved on to the Four Seasons Newport Beach as Banquet Sous Chef, then worked his way up to Executive Sous Chef enjoying the bounty of southern California. From there he moved with the Four Seasons to Dallas at Las Colinas, a AAA 5 Diamond Resort. As their Chef de Cuisine, he oversaw Cafe on the Green, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant plus the banquet and garde manger operations.
Another Four Seasons transfer took Takei to the Four Seasons Resort, Maui at Wailea where he was Chef de Cuisine of the award winning Seasons Restaurant. While at Maui he was a recipient of the prestigious AAA 5 Diamond Restaurant Award as well as the DiRona and Hale Aina Awards. Seasons was also named the best restaurant on Maui by Travel and Leisure and Condé Nast Magazines.
His love of California returned him to the Hotel Del Coronado as Executive Sous Chef, Restaurant Operations. His duties included overseeing the Prince of Wales the Del’s award winning Haute Cuisine dining room, and opening Sheerwater, the hotel’s new seven million dollar signature restaurant. The Hotel Del was awarded Best Hotel Dining by San Diego Magazine.
A desire for a smaller environment where he could make a mark on the kitchen, plus collaborate with internationally renowned Chef Bernard Guillas, brought him to the Shores Resort and Restaurant at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club where he created a menu to satisfy local customers as well as international hotel guests. As Chef de Cuisine for Guillas, Chef Takei was able to further refine and enhance his creativity and techniques. His American Coastal Cuisine is a blend of American influences highlighting local and jet-fresh seafood prepared with classical cooking techniques. The impact of intense flavor is his goal. “The flavors should explode an experience that can be either subtle or bold, but always logical.” With Kevin, as usual, it is all about exceeding expectations.
Relocation back east brought Takei closer to his family and he became the Executive Chef for The Putney Inn of Vermont. At the Putney Inn he now had the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful bounty of produce that is Vermont. Using produce often picked the same day, his goal was to bring the cuisine at the Putney Inn to new heights of quality, variety and elegance. While retaining respect for traditional New England cuisine, Kevin also brought a diverse perspective to the Putney Inn and its menu, “New England Cuisine with a West Coast Flair.”
A desire to return to a more familiar professional environment led Takei to the Old Tavern at Grafton as their Executive Chef. One of only two AAA Four Diamond properties in the state of Vermont, The Old Tavern at Grafton is one of the oldest operating inns in America, having opened its doors in 1801. Located in historic Grafton, Vermont, the Inn is dedicated to preserving the vitality of Vermont’s rural communities and is a member of Historic Hotels of America, Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Vermont Fresh Network and Green Hotels of Vermont.
Moving to a warmer climate brought Chef Takei to Florida where he became Banquet Chef of the Naples Grande Beach Resort and Spa. A Waldorf Astoria Resort, “the Grande” is a full service destination resort on 23 acres in Southwest Florida.
“My goal is to provide a cuisine that explodes with flavor. Called Refined “American” Cuisine, it is a far cry from your mother’s macaroni and cheese or meatloaf. It is based on the mostly French classical cooking techniques taught at the Culinary Institute of America, which emphasizes obtaining the best ingredients possible and then precise culinary application to those items. I wish to present innovative culinary ideas that reflect menus with cross-cultural influences. America is the “Great Melting Pot” and my cuisine is a reflection of that international influence. I have lived and worked in such diverse areas of the country as Vermont, Southern California, Texas, New York and Hawaii. These experiences are woven into my cuisine”.