Pastry Chef: Carolyn Tada Portuondo

The bite: Carolyn Tada Portuondo’s exceptional Royal Hawaiian confections

The inspiration: toxicologist turnaround


Artwork by Sorin


I’ve never met a pastry I didn’t like and Carolyn Tada Portuondo’s creations truly have me smitten.

Sometimes one career unexpectedly prepares you for another, which was the case for Hawaii native Carolyn Tada Portuondo, executive pastry chef at the legendary Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, affectionately known as the Pink Palace of the Pacific.  I am dazzled by her talent as well as the change she made in her vocation by leaving a promising toxicology career and flourishing equally as a pastry chef, first in her Las Vegas pastry shop Caked and currently as the executive pastry chef at the Royal Hawaiian.

This change of occupations from chemist to “confection master” could appear like a career about-face, but not so. Since there is a science to baking–with its complex series of chemical reactions at the basis of the cooking process–Carolyn’s switch from one scientific endeavor to another, sweeter one is logical. She is nationally known for her artistry and creativity in the kitchen, and for her business savvy as well with Caked and the most recent success of the Royal Hawaiian Bakery. Visit the hotel in December and you won’t believe your eyes when you behold her holiday gingerbread masterpiece.

Hawaii is paradise and it’s only fitting that Carolyn be in such a setting as the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, whipping up creations and sweet fantasies that would make anyone feel like a king or queen.