Kelly Degala was born on the island of Oahu and he credits Oahu for his passion for the healthy ingredients and exotic flavors of traditional Asian-Pacific cuisine. His schooling took him to the University of Hawaii, Manoa Campus for four years for one degree in 1981, then to the Kapiolani Campus in Honolulu for his culinary degree in 1984.
In 1985, he moved to the Mainland and the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, where he worked his way up the kitchen ladder to sous chef of Fuller’s Restaurant in the hotel, under Great Chef Caprial Pence. He also attended Seattle Central Community College during that time. In 1993 he moved back to Honolulu as executive chef of the Alana Waikiki Hotel.
In 1994, he moved to the new Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant and a year later, the Great Chefs television crew showed up to tape Chef Degala for their Great Chefs of Hawaii and Great Chefs of the World television series for the Discovery Channel.
In 1998, Chef Degala moved back to Seattle as corporate executive chef of Anthony’s Restaurants, and in 2001 became the chef/operating partner of Asian Venues. In 2003 he moved down to Walnut Creek, California as executive chef of Va de Vi Wine Bar & Bistro for five years, and then another two years in San Francisco as executive chef/partner of Pres a Vi Kitchen & Wine Bar. In 2010 he joined Academy Café as executive chef for another two years. In 2012 he moved back to Seattle, first for a catering company and then as executive chef of the W Hotel in Seattle. Last year in 2015, he moved back to Hawaii to become corporate executive chef of all the ABC stores where he remains today, in 2016.