One might say Neil Kamimura was born to forge steel into knives. After all, his middle name “Teiji” is an homage to his great-grandfather Teiji Kamimura, who immigrated to Hawaii in the 1920s, apprenticed as a blacksmith at a plantation, and went on to start a successful company creating knives for plantation workers. One of Hawaii’s first Japanese business owners, the elder Kamimura became famous for his sugar cane knives, which he continued to create until he died at age 89 when his great-grandson was only nine.
Kimi Werner always felt a connection with the creatures that dwelled in the ocean. As a young child, she lived in shack in a rural part of Maui, Hawaii. Since there was little extra money for a babysitter, her father would bring her along when he went spearfishing for their dinner if her mother was busy waitressing. At first, he would tow his daughter on a boogie board in the hopes she would just sit tight as he free dove. “But I’d always jump off and swim,” Werner says, laughing. “So, we ditched the boogie board, and my job became just keeping up with him.”
How Kona, Hawaii’s, Wild Hooker, one of the youngest and most winning professional fishing teams in the world, is now giving back.
Spend any time with the Wild Hooker crew and you’re bound to hand over at least $100 on some side bet—probably on a wager like what kind of fish was hooked and called in on the radio before ever seeing it with absolutely no basis whatsoever, for example. That summarizes this crew—incredibly competitive on every level, obsessed with fish, and an appetite for betting and winning, whether it be millions at the Bisbee’s (the world’s richest marlin fishing tournament in Cabo) or $100 bucks on some side bet. It doesn’t matter to these guys, and for good reason. They win. A lot.
At age 70, Sam Choy minces no words, only fish, as he fulfills his personal dream of spreading the gospel of Hawaii’s beloved raw seafood delicacy, poke, to every corner of the world. “If you cook tuna, you might as well save your money and buy a can,” he says. And if you serve poke, this man—who has dedicated his life to the dish—would really, really just like you to learn to pronounce it properly. “Poh-kay,” he says slowly. “In the Philippines if you say ‘poh-kee,’ that’s a bad word, a body part. So, you want to make sure you say ‘poh-kay.’”