Cooking Your Thanksgiving Meal: Tips from Ala Moana Hotel’s Executive Chef

Nothing's better than a meal cooked from the heart!

It may only be the beginning of November, but Thanksgiving will be here sooner than you think! And it’s never too early to start prepping for that big family feast. For many people, making Thanksgiving dinner can be a little intimidating. That’s why HI Now host Kanoe Gibson is in the kitchen with Executive Chef Dean Kamiya from Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra to get some tips on how to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving meal.

While Chef Kamiya heads up the kitchen at the Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra, he’s also the one making Thanksgiving dinner at home. His biggest overall advice is to keep it simple and cook what your family likes!

“Cook from your heart and cook what everyone likes to eat. That’s always easy to do.” says Chef Kamiya.

Of course, the traditional centerpiece at many Thanksgiving meals is the turkey, which can be another intimidating task. While there are many ways to cook it, Chef Kamiya says he likes to brine the turkey.

“Brining the turkey works well for us. It can be a little intimidating, but once you get over that it’s really not too hard,” he says. “We do a wet brine where we take the turkey and we make a brine out of water, salt, and a few other vegetables and herbs. And we’ll let it sit in there overnight — at least 24 hours.”

Chef Kamiya says this process helps to impart a lot of flavor into the turkey and keep it nice and juicy! When it comes to the cook time, Chef Kamiya says the general rule of thumb is about 18-20 minutes per pound.

“So if you’ve got a 16 lb. turkey, it will be around three and a half to four and a half hours,” he explains. “Do the math, but a thermometer is very helpful.”