Chef Francois Provenza was born in Marseilles, France. He is of French and Italian parentage.

A few years ago he became interested in the restaurant business and opened Restaurant ZaZou on Montserrat Ave., just outside Waikiki. He says he managed the restaurant, created all the dishes that were so popular, but always left the cooking up to a staff of young people who wanted to learn the business from the ‘pan up.’ He never did the cooking himself.

He now is the owner of All American Burgers Company, and heads up a staff of 20 at what is dubbed “The Mess Hall,” the fast food outlet at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Serving over 700 meals a day, the busy and hungry tourists especially like his half-pound and third-pound burgers, with everything you can think of to top them off. He takes pride in telling you that all the toppings, as well as the beef, are fresh daily.

Another of his popular creations is the Ka-Bob… in either beef, chicken or shrimp… and served on a bed of lettuce with Greek cheese, olives, and salad dressing. The visitors also take very well to his Italian-accented Chicken Cacciatore.

He has just completed construction of an enlarged kitchen to replace the former mobile trailer operation. This month Francois introduced two other exotic luncheon specials, a lamb shank and a spicy pasta dish. The lamb is marinated in olive oil and seasonings before being grilled on his new flame grill. The pasta will be offered with meat balls, Italian sausage, and served with basmati rice.

Anyone who knows the restaurant business will tell you, if you own it be prepared to spend long hours. That Francois does, but when he has some off-time he and his new wife, their 8 month old baby and four grown children, enjoy the beach and walking in Kapiolani Park, near their Waikiki home.

When he’s at home, he’s the only one allowed to do the cooking! “The kids particularly like my pasta dishes and my Humus, a middle-east dish made of garbanzo beans.” What is his favorite dish? He smiles and says: “Good old-fashioned roast beef. But I do it a lot different from the way most people do.” His recipe calls for marinating the beef for 24 hours in a marinade of olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt, pepper and a little Burgundy or good red wine. Massage the marinate into the beef before putting into over, cook slowly at 450 degrees and bring to a medium rare finish. “Best roast beef you’ll ever taste,” says Francois. And, he’s right!

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