Dana Honn, Executive/Head Chef
Dana grew up working at his family's Mexican restaurant, La Placita. He was cooking and waiting tables by the age of 11, and loved every minute of it ... well, almost. By the time he graduated from college (music composition with a minor in Hindi/East Indian studies), he had worked continuously in the food service industry for more than 15 years. His passion for composing and teaching music was always accompanied by a desire to expand his culinary horizons and he and took advantage of every opportunity to taste, research and prepare a variety of ethnic cuisines. In 1992, he moved to Brazil (with his wife, Christina) where he taught music and theatre at an American international school for a period of six years. Living in Brazil, taking trips throughout South America and Spain had lasting impacts on Dana's palate. Upon his return from Brazil, he founded Telarts, a film production and media company in San Francisco, and gave group cooking classes in his spare time (with Christina).
In 2005 (just a few months before hurricane Katrina), Dana and Christina moved from San Francisco to New Orleans, with the intent of eventually opening a tropical restaurant. Katrina delayed but didn't derail that desire, and they setup a successful catering business while searching for a location for the restaurant. In January of 2010, a location was found on Julia Street in the Warehouse District and Carmo opened a few months later.
Honn has been a featured chef, speaker, educator, delegate and panelist at multiple local and national events, including Farm to Table International, Slow Fish International, Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, Sea Web International and for the past four years has been a featured chef presenter on the Food Heritage Stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. His interviews and articles profiling sustainably-minded chefs, fishers and famers around the tropics have been featured by organizations such as Monterrey Bay Aquarium's SeafoodWatch, Slow Food USA, the Gulf Restoration network and others. As a passionate supporter of local farmers and fishers, he is also a board member of Slow Food New Orleans and the founder of the Tropical Foodways Institute, began in 2013 with a primary function of acting as a conduit for research, eduction and resources relating to the cuisine and culture of the tropics.
He is inspired by and committed to New Orleans and believes that “this 'gateway to the tropics' city invites us to see beyond convention, through a looking glass of history and tradition to find those things which are superbly unique ... it's a conduit for creativity, originality and coincidence. I guess that has some relevance as far as what excites me most as a cook, discovering the essence of a recipe, taking it back to its origins, re/interpreting and eventually presenting it on a plate at Carmo, hopefully to the delight of our diners.”
Wataru Saeki, Chef
Hailing from Chiba, Japan, Wataru Saeki grew up being exposed to the bounty of his native region of Chiba Prefecture, known as the top vegetable-producing regions in Japan, and second in overall agricultural output. His family's love for growing their own food in their garden, and skill in its preparation was an early influence on Wataru's palate, as he observed his grandmother, mother and aunts prepare rice, sushi, tsukemono (Japanese pickles), miso and other staples of their family's table.
Chiba's proximity to Tokyo also afforded Wataru with the opportunities to be exposed to the huge variety of fresh ingredients (like the amazing seafood at Tsukiji fish market) of types and styles of Japanese and international cuisines represented in the country's most populous and cosmopolitan city. Following a career as a manager for a large multi-national company, he moved to New Orleans, where he eventually landed a position at a local sushi house. There, over a period of 10+ years, he learned and honed his craft (and his knives), eventually rising to the top of the ranks.
Chef Wataru has been with Carmo for over three years, helping to create and grow the raw program, as well as the restaurant in general. His curatorial-level attention to detail, his worldly but traditionally-founded palate and aesthetic, and his ongoing quest for finding the essence of flavors in quality ingredients makes it easy for those who see and taste his work to applaud his talent and creativity.
Chef Wataru is passionate about food, but also about music, and his fondness for the blues inspires his love for playing drums. In New Orleans, he has found an outlet for his passions and made a home. Together with his wife Hiroko, and their two children Mona and Otto, he has also created an amazing family.
Christina do Carmo Honn - Chef
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Christina do Carmo Honn has spent much of her life researching, cooking and tasting food. Since a very young age, her grandmother (of Portuguese decent) encouraged her culinary interests. Though she pursued a degree in education, and retired as a teacher in 1992, she still maintained the passion and drive to pursue a career as a cook. After moving to the United States in 1998, she ended up in San Francisco, where she worked at some of the Bay Area's finest restaurants, including Bistro Yoffi, Greens and Organicity, as well as giving cooking classes. In her “spare time” her interest was (and still is) studying, collecting and experimenting with various recipes from around the world. Over the years, she has put that creative diligence to good use, first in exposing friends and family to delicious new recipes, and later by featuring a selection of those dishes in her catering business and at restaurants where she has worked. Upon moving to New Orleans, she and her husband, Dana, began looking for the right location to open her own cafe where she could do what she loves best, making people happy. Nearly five years later, she has finally found that place at a tropical restaurant on Julia Street, “Carmo.”
Wataru Saeki - Line/Sushi Chef, PM Kitchen Manager
Bio coming soon!