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After graduating from a community culinary school in California, Jacqueline Lau came to Hawai‘i for a brief vacation - - and decided to stay.
She began working for Roy Yamaguchi a few weeks after he opened his original Roy’s Restaurant in Honolulu in late 1988. Beginning as a pastry chef, she quietly became adept at all phases of Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion cuisine, rising to the position of Yamaguchi’s first Chef de Cuisine - - responsible for creating 20 – 25 new dishes a night - - by mid 1992. So impressed was Yamaguchi that in the fall of ’92 he sent Jacqueline to Japan as the opening chef for his first international restaurant, Roy’s Tokyo.
After spending two and a half months in the far east, Jacqueline returned to Honolulu and resumed her rein in Hawai‘i Kai, only to leave six months later, again at the request of Yamaguchi, to open his second international restaurant, Roy’s Guam.
With the exposure she gained during her two stints abroad, Jacqueline was beginning to solidify herself as one of the key players in Roy’s young and growing company. So to give her a larger outlet - - a restaurant of “her own” - - in which to explore her culinary instincts, Yamaguchi awarded Jacqueline with the position of Executive Chef of Roy’s Nicolina on the island of Maui in 1993 and again with Roy’s Waikoloa Bar & Grill in March of 1996. Jackie has also helped open other Roy’s Restaurants on the mainland and is now also the Corporate Executive Chef for Roy’s Restaurants Hawai‘i.
Jacqueline has participated in many outstanding culinary events across the country and abroad including: events for the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau, Sagebrush Classic, Aspen Food and Wine Festival, The James Beard House and the The World Gourmet Summit. She has had the opportunity to cook with some of the best chefs in the world including: Paul Bocuse, Nobu Matsuhisa, Emeril Lagasse, Charlie Trotter, Wolfgang Puck, Ming Tsai and George Morrone. Jacqueline has been featured in several television series including: the Great Chef series (Great Chefs of Hawai‘i and Great Chefs of the World), Hawai‘i Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi and Island Chefs. She has also been recognized in the Hawai‘i Business News as one of the leading women chefs in Hawai‘i.
Jacqueline attributes much of her culinary influence to her Hispanic upbringing in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and the blending of Asian-Pacific seasonings to her elbow-to-elbow working relationship with Roy Yamaguchi and her locally born husband, Cleighton Lau.
Roy on Jackie: “Jackie came to us straight out of culinary school, and over that span produced literally hundreds of dishes, and entire nightly menus, that were always strikingly original and wonderfully resourceful. The interesting part of what she did for us in Honolulu, and now what she does full-blown at Roy’s Waikoloa, is how she applies her own completely natural feel for California-Southwestern flavors to our own Hawaiian Fusion style.”