It’s 5:30 in the morning, but Rex Chandler is already up and waiting in line at Honolulu’s public fish market, and he’s as excited as a kid about to be admitted to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The sounds and smells of the open sea and fishing boats unloading their catch assault his senses, bringing back memories of his 20-plus year run as the king of seafood at his Waikiki restaurant, Nick’s Fish Market, which began his 40 year career in fine dining.
That career extended through Newport Beach, where The Rex Restaurant was rated the best seafood restaurant in southern California 11 years running. When he moved to Sun Valley in 1993, where Chandler’s became a fine dining icon for over 15 years, he had to forego his passion for seafood because it was all but impossible to get fresh, prime fish to Idaho. Still, he harbored dreams of one day being able to share his love of Hawaiian seafood with his new-found home.