KAPA DJ in running for title of ‘Favorite Chef’

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When Darde Gamayo got an email notifying her she was in the running for the title of Favorite Chef, she thought it was a scam.

Unaware of who nominated her, the KAPA DJ was surprised after reading through the fine print that the contest was, indeed, real.

Gamayo is in the running to win $25,000 and have one of her food dishes photographed and published in “Taste of Home” magazine. She is up against 19 other home cooks nationwide.

Click here to vote.

Currently, in third place, the public has until Thursday to vote for Gamayo. If she takes first, she will move on to the next round. The winner will also get a chance to cook with celebrity chef Carla Hall.

Gamayo is skilled at making Hawaiian home food.


“We’re not afraid of canned goods,” Gamayo said, adding it’s not just spam but also Vienna sausage, peas and more.

“I want them to realize how simple and delicious Hawaiian home food is,” she added.

Gamayo said her family taught her to only touch food with the best of intentions.

“I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about who I am and where I come from through cooking with my mom and grandma,” she said. “They also inspired me to think outside of the box when cooking, encouraging me to not be afraid to experiment and try new food combinations.”


Additionally, Gamayo said since Hawai‘i has access to cuisine from all over the world she’s not afraid to fuse Hawaiian with Mexican or Filipino. However, her favorite food to cook is Puerto Rican food, particularly pasteles.

“It brings back fond memories of me sitting with my mom, grandmother and great-grandmother around the table creating our family’s favorite dish,” Gamayo said. “It is more than a favorite dish and comfort food. It’s the dish that binds me to my heritage and ancestors.”

Gamayo’s culinary dream is to someday be a competitor on the cooking show “Chopped.”

If she does win, Gamayo plans to donate a portion of the $25,000 to her local charity that takes food to our local kūpuna (elders).


“Then I plan on remodeling my kitchen, upgrading the appliances and buying me some new kitchen tools and essentials,” she said.

There are two titles for the taking. The first is People’s Choice and the other is Carla’s Pick.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a full-time reporter for Pacific Media Group. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.

Tiffany can be reached at
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