The Hukilau - Sherill Anne Gross, Co-OrganizerSherill Anne Gross, Co-Organizer

Sherill has been our Co-Organizer since 2014 and has volunteered at The Hukilau for several years prior. She is drawn to how Polynesian culture is portrayed in Art, TV, and movies – where all your cares melt away and everyone is happy and dancing. She wishes her life was always like Beach Blanket Bingo! The Hukilau is really close though, it’s just missing the sickles. In reality Sherill is a cut paper artist and a graphic designer, who works in a theater and sews most of her own clothes. Marvy.

The Hukilau - Dean Hurst, Spirits CoordinatorDean Hurst, Spirits Coordinator

Dean Hurst has been building on his service experience for 20 years with a varied background in different restaurant categories. Settling in at SideBern’s in 1999, he advanced from server to General Manager in less than 2 years. During his time at SideBern’s, Hurst has been able to create an ever-evolving and unique drink list for the restaurant. His bar program enhances the overall SideBern’s experience.

In the summer of 2011, Hurst was promoted to Director of Spirits for Bern’s Steak House, tasked with advancing the spirits program for the Harry Waugh Dessert Room. The Epicurean Hotel opened in December 2013, with two additional bar programs and a cocktail/spirits curriculum for the classroom styled Theatre. SideBern’s is in the process of a major renovation and will reopen as Haven in December 2014 with a bar program focused on perfecting bar techniques and reinventing classic cocktails.

Beverage Media listed Hurst as one of the Top Ten Mixologist to watch in 2012. He has worked the industry events The Hukilau, Manhattan Cocktail Classic, Portland Cocktail Week, and Tales of the Cocktail in the Cocktail Apprentice Program (CAP). The Hukilau has invited Hurst to a part of their team as Chief Spirits Coordinator. He is one of the founders of the United States Bartender’s Guild, Tampa Chapter and has organized the largest annual National Repeal Day event in the US, now in it’s fifth year. He holds the current titles of Director of Spirits Bern’s Steak House, SideBern’s and Epicurean Hotel.

The Hukilau - George Jenkins, Cocktail CoordinatorGeorge Jenkins, Cocktail Coordinator

Since 2011, George has been helping out with various cocktail activities associated with The Hukilau, including as a participant in the mixology competition. He is also the creator of the Brevard Tiki Facebook group. When he’s not behind his home bar, The Storm Shelter, he can be found around central Florida pouring drinks and promoting the gospel of cocktails as a member of The Straw Hat Barmen.


The Hukilau - James McDonald, On-Site Production CoordinatorJames McDonald, On-Site Production Coordinator

You may have seen James McDonald’s smiling face at the Hukilau in years past (or briefly in the film Plastic Paradise). After many years as a villager, James joined the staff in 2015 as On-Site Production Coordinator. He has worked for more than two decades as a musician, tour manager, sound designer, and event manager. Also a historian of transportation and material culture, James is captivated by the disappearing signs of the past (no really, he likes old neon signs!)

The Hukilau - Matt & AmberLu, On-Site OrganizersMatt & AmberLu, On-Site Organizers

Newly minted staff members Matt & AmberLu have been volunteering with the Hukilau for the last 5 years. Matt’s appreciation of all things carved of wood began when he was a child living on the island of Guam. His fascination of the latte stones of Guam to the moais of Easter island has led him to life filled with tiki and Polynesian pop. AmberLu has had a lifetime interest in the pinup and the fashions of mid century America. Away from their everyday life of working for the airlines and office managing, they dream of a magical world where the carefree spirit of a Disney movie meets the aloha shirts of the TV show MASH.

The Hukilau - Jim “Hurricane” Hayward, PR, Press, and MediaJim “Hurricane” Hayward, PR, Press, and Media

Jim Hayward has been a writer, editor and web producer for more than 30 years, earning his nickname by virtue of both his potent tropical concoctions and his online coverage of tropical weather since the mid-’90s. Via his blog, The Atomic Grog, he’s also become known for his tropical drink mixology and reverence for South Florida’s iconic Mai-Kai restaurant. Open since 1956, The Mai-Kai is a mid-century marvel, beloved by Tiki and Polynesian Pop enthusiasts from around the world. The Atomic Grog’s Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide is a unique resource for tropical drink enthusiasts who flock to Fort Lauderdale to sample these one-of-a-kind creations. The blog features in-depth news and insights, plus comprehensive reviews and recipes for nearly every Mai-Kai cocktail, past and present. Hayward’s original and re-interpreted recipes have gained a worldwide following and have been featured at bars across the country, from Hidden Harbor in Pittsburgh to Hale Pele and Trader Vic’s in Portland.

The Hukilau - Ananda Keator, Volunteer CoordinatorAnanda Keator, Volunteer Coordinator

Ananda Keator is overjoyed to be returning as Volunteer Coordinator! She wishes to thank everyone who made last year such a success and hopes this year will be even better! She also wishes to thank her husband, John, for all the love and support. When not Tiki-ing it up or telling people what to do, Ananda can be found in Austin, Texas where she is going back to school for her MFA. Mahalo!


Robert Brauchler, On-Site Volunteer Coordinator

Robert “The Banana” Brauchler has been a Hukilau villager since 2007. This will be his third year as a volunteer, joining this year as the on-site Volunteer Coordinator. Robert is originally from Long Island, NY and has previously worked for Walt Disney World for almost 17 years, which has prepared him to deal with and embrace all kinds of crazy. He is fiercely good at crossword puzzles and enjoys Sci-Fi and comedy films and shows. When Robert isn’t working for the man, he likes to relax at the beach or marathon a favorite show on Netflix. Robert lives in Palm Beach Gardens, FL with his wife Nicole and their daughter Ellie, the undisputed Princess of Tiki.