The Humuhumunukunu-kuapua‘a Restaurant at the lovely Grand Wailea resort has got to have one of the longest names ever, so we call it Humu for short.
Starting Sunday, March 13 Humu is launching Localvore week and featuring a pre fixe menu that exemplifies Maui’s glorious bounty. It’s a treat for guests and residents alike.
Humu’s new chef, Isaac Bancaco, is originally from Maui, but before settling back home he cut his teeth working alongside celebrity Chef Ming Tsai, known for his Chinese fusion.
Bancaco says he strives to showcase the best the islands have to offer, both from the land and sea, while incorporating the techniques and influences of his Filipino, Hawaiian and Chinese roots. I caught up with him recently to find out more about eating local.
WHAT IS LOCALVORE WEEK?
It’s really a time to brag about our local farmers and their meticulous efforts to grow some of the world’s best produce.
WHY DO YOU FEEL IT’S IMPORTANT TO WORK WITH LOCAL FARMERS?
The importance of working with local farmers for me is very simple: the produce is the best I can get my hands on. You won’t find juicier strawberries, crispier asparagus, more vibrant haricot verts, healthier bok choy or more nutrient-filled tat soi than right here on Maui. In addition to the quality of the product, I’m born and raised in Kula and grew up with and around most of the farms and the families that depend on local restaurants to sustain production. The significance of never forgetting my roots, supporting my community and effectively working together with the farmers to be innovative needs to remain at the front of the Localvore movement.
WHAT’S THE INSPIRATION FOR THE MENU?
Our inspiration continually comes from new products, new ideas, new techniques and the ability to immediately implement them into a menu. Localvore week is a format where we can put innovation into practice. All chefs thrive on the immediate gratification of cooking, but we also understand that just because it looks good, tastes good and smells good, doesn’t mean it will sell. As with any business, the guests dictate what both farmer and chef will continue to supply. It’s a great a chance for guests to communicate directly to me about what excites them and in turn I relay that to the farmers.
WILL YOU BE ABLE TO TAKE THE EXPERIENCE FROM LOCALVORE WEEK AND INCORPORATE IT INTO THE DAILY MENU?
Local produce is incorporated into our daily menu. Localvore week is like Humuhumunukunukuapua‘a’s test kitchen, where we get to experiment with our recipes prior to incorporating them into our a la carte menu. By running this farm-to-table concept for a full week, we expose innovative ingredients to our guests.
HOW DO YOU SELECT WHAT FARMS TO WORK WITH DURING LOCALVORE WEEK?
The trick to selecting farms falls into two major categories: quality and safe food handling. Quality of products is important but we can’t overlook cleanliness, sanitation and [the] operational systems of each farm. Being able to safely serve our guests is always the most important area of concern with all products, but especially when time of harvest to time of consumption can be within 24 hours. With the volume at Humu nightly, proper handling of all items is critical. Public safety is a reason why visiting farms and talking to farmers is a necessary part of my job; trusting them is good but verification is better.