Waiting, commitment flavor romance
By Tanya Bricking Leach
Advertiser Staff Writer
|J'mi Arrastia and Jon Matsubara got engaged in while living in New York City but came home to Hawai'i for the wedding.
He had just finished his first year, and he knew it wasn't what he wanted to do with his life. So he ditched law school and set his sights on something he had always loved: cooking. But he didn't want to cook just anywhere. Matsubara wanted to start at the top, so he applied for jobs at Roy's and Alan Wong's, what he considered Honolulu's best restaurants. When he showed the restaurants his resumé, they hired him in the kitchen, sort of.
"They said, 'You can be a dish washer,' " he said.
The job segued into his romance with Arrastia.
"She dated me as a dish washer," he said. "I'm a chef now. To me, that's true love."
The story of J'mi and Jon is one that simmered in a slow cooker. They met through a friend in 1995 but didn't officially date until about two years later.
"A month into us dating, I kind of had a feeling this was the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with," Arrastia said. "It just felt right."
But it took time and patience to develop.
It took Matsubara's waiting for her to finish law school at the University of Hawai'i before pursuing his dream of studying at the French Culinary Institute in New York City.
And it took Arrastia's resolve to move with him and take another bar exam in New York before landing a job.
They lived about two blocks from Central Park and were living the big-city life right down to the marriage proposal.
It happened on a weekend when Matsubara was waiting for just the right moment to propose.
On that Sunday morning, he asked Arrastia to go to Central Park for a picnic.
When they got downstairs, a huge white limo was waiting.
"Do you want to go for a ride?" he asked. Arrastia laughed, stunned, wondering if she was on "Candid Camera" or something.
She got in, he proposed, and they spent the next two hours riding around the city, eating caviar and sipping champagne.
As New York as the proposal was, the wedding was definitely Hawai'i.
"I was done with my tour of duty up there," Matsubara said. "Home is home, and I wanted to come home."
So they moved back and planned a wedding with their families. Arrastia's background is Filipino, Spanish and Irish. Matsubara's is Japanese.
Their wedding, held May 29 at St. Philomena Catholic Church, was a mix of Buddhist, Filipino and Catholic, from the traditional Catholic Mass to the Buddhist offerings and the Filipino veil and cord ceremonies. And the reception for 150 guests at the Oahu Country Club was a feast befitting the marriage of a chef and his bride.
Jon, 31, a 1991 Punahou grad, is now the chef at the Bay Terrace restaurant at the Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island.
Josephine, also 31, a 1990 Iolani grad, has been doing the long-distance-relationship thing from across islands since Jon started the job in April.
She joined Jon two weeks ago when she moved with him to Waimea, on the Big Island, where they will start a life on the Kohala Coast.
The groom would like to settle down and start a family.
"Three if possible," he said of his wishes for children. "We'll see."
And he'll be the one barefoot in the kitchen.
Tanya Bricking Leach writes about relationships. If you'd like her to tell your love story next, write to email@example.com, call 525-8026 or mail your photo and details to Love Stories, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802.