A native of Hawaii Island, Chef Jayson Kanekoa attributes his passion for culinary to his humble upbringing in the small community of Kukuihaele. Taught and influenced by his grandfather, a legendary Waipio Valley farmer, he developed an appreciation early on for sustainable, local fare which has guided his culinary practice. He graduated from the culinary program at Kapiolani Community College on Oahu before joining the then-Royal Waikoloan Hotel on Hawaii Island’s Kohala Coast as a cook’s assistant in 1986.
Dedicating 30 consecutive years to the Kohala Coast resort property, he earned his way to his current position as Executive Chef for the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, a position he’s held since 2011. Chef Jayson is credited for his progressive creativity in the kitchen while advocating local agriculture. He works intently with island purveyors—from producing an exclusive organic hybrid salad blend, sourcing the finest 100% Kona coffee, to building an on-property hydroponic garden for “seed-to-table” harvesting right outside his Hawai’i Calls restaurant. Such ethos has garnered him significant respect and earned him a spot as a featured chef with Hawaii Food and Wine Festival for the past several years running.
In 2012, he was nominated for the prestigious J. Willard Marriott Award of Excellence and is continuously recognized by the Waikoloa Beach Marriott as an outstanding manager. Accolades aside, Chef Jayson’s biggest commitment is toward charitable efforts in which he gives back to organizations such as the Hawai‘i Food and Wine Festival, Hawai‘i United Way, Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation, American Cancer Society and many more.