Just think: Hundreds of years ago, this fertile land grew kalo, niu, kukui, and mai‘a, brought over on canoes by Polynesian voyagers as they settled the Pacific. Even domesticated animals were brought along for the voyage. The Polynesians were isolated on these far-flung islands, but they brought the elements for societal success with them and improvised with what they found.
Many years later, this incredible navigational feat continues to shape Maui’s modern food scene.
In our annual tribute to cuisine, we talk with the island’s astonishing chefs, bakers, food manufacturers, and farmers about their favorite Hawaiian dishes and cultural heritage plants, and how these flavors influence their food and the present day Maui palate.
Isabelle Adda Toland, Chef De Cuisine of Banyan Tree Restaurant, Ritz Carlton, Kapalua (pictured above)
I really have a love affair with taro. I grew up eating it stewed with pork and chilies. Friends in Hawai‘i make it with coconut and tako. I love playing with it in different ways – from by itself in butter and salt, to making pasta fillings with variety of cheese and spices. Taro root is a special experience in its own. I have also started to play with ‘ulu more. It has so many stages with different flavor and texture profiles.
It is very important to not only serve delicious food, but to know where it is from as well. To be able to do that and also educate on its heritage and history goes deeper. I believe most people come to Hawai‘i to enjoy the sun, but most importantly, to learn and immerse themselves in another culture. For those of us fortunate to live in Hawai‘i, it is even more important to embrace all the knowledge and history that comes with the land.
A lot of places have started utilizing canoe plants. Amongst my colleagues at work and outside of work, I like to enjoy canoe plants and their foods at home. There I am able to enjoy with family and friends and learn new ways to prepare them.
I lived in Hana for two years and developed an ‘ohana there. I used to think I knew Hawaiian food having lived on Maui for eight years and the Big Island prior. Then I moved to Hana. That is where I truly learned about Hawaiian culture and the importance of making sure everyone is aware of it.
I love a traditional poke. Freshly caught fish, limu, inamona, shoyu, and salt. When done correctly, pa‘i‘ai is my absolute favorite stage of pounded taro. I enjoy it by itself, after its been pounded. I’ll have it pan fried with some local honey and salt. Or even with some eggs in the morning. I also love a good musubi. I usually make them at home with furikake, dehydrated Hawaiian chili peppers, and a little hoisin. It’s the best to bring to the beach, hiking, or any time of day. When we go camping, it’s fun to bring components plus extra toppers and make hand rolls with them. My friends keikis love it. Some chefs are even starting to make their own in restaurants, like Chef Sheldon Simeon at Lineage. He makes his own spam, and right now his is at the top of my list.
We will have canoe plants on the menu for the new Banyan Tree Restaurant. We will also have daily specials and will be utilizing canoe plants when we can. We are still in menu development but we are playing around with ‘ulu, kukui, taro, taro leaf, and ti as well. Banyan Tree is still being remodeled but is scheduled to open in May with my new menu. Banyan Tree will serve dinner and then the outdoor patio will serve lunch under the brand “’Olu.” Hook + Knife will stay open until Banyan reopens.
Chris Speere, Coordinator of Maui Food Innovation Center
Canoe crops offer local specialty food producers an extended palate of ingredients to work into their hand-crafted products. These uniquely flavorful and textured ingredients like ‘ulu, kalo, niu can be repacked with added value into spreads, flours, chips, then used in endless recipes.
I am excited to see interest in alternative flours, nut milks, and spreads that are cultured to add probiotic properties to foods. Alternative beverages, kombucha, and water kefir are also gaining momentum as refreshing low-sugar options that also offer gut health. The variety of vegetable and vegan-based products emerging in non-traditional applications such as jerky and other healthy snacks is also compelling. Right now I am working with a wide variety of powder herbs and vegetables as low-sodium options to add umami flavor profiles to foods. Plant-based food options are important because they can offer nutritious, healthy, and fresh low-cost access to real food options.
I like the food coming out of Lineage, Star Noodle, A‘a Roots, and Moku Roots. For Hawaiian food its got to be Poi by the Pound. Some of my favorite dishes are the beef luau, squid luau ,and tako poke. I also like the Star Noodle khao soi, and Ko Restaurant’s steamed whole snapper.
Look for Maui Food Innovation Center graduates’ products like the Ohi Superfood Bar at Whole Foods Market, HiSpice Hot Sauces at ABC Stores, Madame Donut at the Donut Dynamite Store, The Maui Cookie Lady on Gold Belly (America’s Top Site for food makers) or 415 Dairy Road, Maui Raw: Probiotic Macadamia Nut Spreads & Nori Nosh at the Upcountry Farmers Market, Napili Flow Kim Chee at the Kahana Farmers Market, and Maui Sugar Mama’s: Mini Bite Cookies and the Maui Sweet Cakes at Island Grocery.
Chris Damskey, Executive Chef of Montage Kapalua Bay
At Cane & Canoe, we offer feature a weekly special with canoe plants. In the past we’ve done Taro Linguini with clams and Taro Gnocchi with wild boar sausage and kale. The Taro Gnocchi was a very popular dish and is my favorite. Follow us on social media, to find out when this item will be back on our menu at Cane & Canoe or The Hideaway.
Personally, I feel that lau lau is one of the simplest and purest examples of local inspired cuisine. It embodies both simple technique while incorporating usage of the land from mauka to makai. Lately, poke has been (and still is) thrust into the spotlight on a national and international level. I believe this has propelled Hawaiian cuisine over the last couple of years. Poke is but one of many great dishes that reflect Hawaii’s history and its melting pot of cultures that make up local food.
We are currently working with ulu for a local hummus dish and kukui nuts in poke. Shaved coconut is used in The Hideaway’s coconut shrimp satay and in the pool’s tropical drinks while coconut water is in our crudos and ceviche. Lastly, at The Hideaway we use sugar cane juice made into a syrup for our crafted cocktails.
If I am craving Hawaiian food I like to find it at Alan Wong and Sheldon Simeon’s restaurants. Lineage’s poi mochi with chicken liver and kale furikake. Alan Wong’s lau lau is still one of my favorites and so is his signature dessert ‘the Coconut’ with haupia ice cream.
For Hawaiian soul food, as chef Sheldon calls his creations, I enjoy his two ventures – Lineage in Wailea and Tin Roof in Kahului. Helena’s in Waipahu, Oahu has the best adobo. Their adobo omelet and fried rice are my favorites.
My go-to is pipikaula with a side of poi, chili pepper water and lomi salmon. Next would be lau lau and adobo from Helena’s Hawaiian Food on Oahu. For poke and fresh catches, go to Oki’s Seafood Corner Foodland in Kahului, Maui. For chow fun and cake noodles, Tiffany’s Bar & Grill is the place go in Wailuku, Maui. Closer to home, I like to go to Joey’s Kitchen in Napili, Maui for pancit and sabao.
On Oahu, for kim chee fried rice and wok fried pork chops I like to go to Sidestreet Inn (Kapahulu) and for dim sum. For manapua I enjoy Chung Wah Kam in Honolulu. And of course, for soy braised short rib and ginger crusted onago, Alan Wong’s is the best in Honolulu. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with malasadas from Leonards Bakery in Kapahulu.
Gerry Ross, Owner and Farmer of Kupa‘a Farms
Our customers include people who like mainland crops such as carrots and chard as well as more local influences such as kalo, pak choi, and daikon. We use organic growing methods influenced by mainland approaches but have modified things to include local approaches for kalo cultivation like seeding by the Hawaiian moon calendar, for example, as well as permaculture approaches.
We grow dryland kalo – all Hawaiian varieties – koa and kukui as shade trees for our coffee orchards, and a‘ali‘i and sugarcane as windbreaks. We also used clumping bamboo as a windbreak tree. We used to grow ‘uala but the bug pressure got too high! We also grow bananas for sale.
We grow pigeon peas (gandules) for companions for young orchard trees (they fix nitrogen in the soil and help feed plants) and as part of our windbreaks. We also grow most of what we need for kimchi – daikon, won bok, ginger, garlic, and more.
It is hard to pick a favorite… they are like our kids. We love the stature and enthusiasm of our kalo which grows to more than six feet tall. We love the shade of the koa and kukui which helps protect our coffee. And we love the enthusiasm of the pigeon peas which produce such uniquely flavored dried beans.
We cook with kalo, gandules, as well as sugarcane that we grow, and we are always on the lookout for ‘ulu. Gandules make great bean stews; the kalo we use for table taro (pressure cooked then fried in coconut oil) and lazy laulau stew in the slow cooker (leaf, stems, corm, salt). We can’t grow ‘ulu at our elevation but we love to get it and make frittatas or pizza crust with ripe ‘ulu. We use sugarcane juice for salad dressings and as liquid in Sunday pancakes.
It just feels right in our hearts to grow these plants. When the kalo leaves are big and breezes are gentle you can hear them knocking against each other and it sounds like footsteps, reminding us that there are others who have been here before us and others who will be here after we go.
We do community-supported agriculture (CSA), with 15-20 customers a week. You can pick up from the farm or drop off Upcountry only, although we do have a couple of folks who meet us at Maui Tropical Plantation for their box. The info is on our website. We also do the Wednesday Waipuna Chapel Farmers Market. You can find us active on Instagram: @kupaafarms
Cymbree Kailiehu, Owner and Founder of Cymz_ Sweet_Kre8tionz Bakery
The cultural heritages that influence me as a chef and baker would be: Portuguese, Hawaiian, and Filipino. A few of our chantilly desserts or baked goods that we do offer are incorporated with coconut, sugarcane, and taro, such as in our Cymz Chantilly Tarts and cupcakes. So delish! We also have our Kanak Attack Tart that has both Okinawan sweet potato and poi. Combined all together inside of a mini tart shell that has a cake like consistency, but a little smoother, topped with chantilly, and drizzled with a coconut macadamia nut sauce. Literally so good, you have to try it! Coconut has my heart in our Chocolate Fantasy Tart, which is a (mini tart) chocolate crust outside, chocolate pudding center, topped with a haupia layer, then swirled with a rosette piped chantilly topping, followed by chocolate shavings.
These ingredients are important to me. It’s important to have these plants on the menu because they represent Hawai‘i, local ingredients. They keep the culture alive and active, all while creating dishes that we enjoy and love very much!
My ultimate fave combination Hawaiian-kine Cymz custom plate would be – lau lau, shoyu poke, kalua pig, mac salad, poi – dash of sugarcane (yes, I like my poi with sugar, and I know that I am not the only one), sweet potato with coconut sauce, and some guava-glazed smoke meat. I think I may have just created a plate called the “Hawaiian Paralysis.”
Here are a few of my favorite places to get local food: TJ’s Warehouse: When their Hawaiian plate is on the bento menu, be sure to get it. With mix combinations of lau lau, kalua pig, sweet potato, and rice. You will not be disappointed. Sparky’s Food Company food truck: fresh poi, huge lau lau’s and heavy plates made with a lot of love. 808 Plates: smooth like buttah, soft pillows of fresh shoyu poke, with side rice, salad, and we can’t forget that aioli drizzle. WINNAHS! Other places I like to eat include: Like Poke, Poi By The Pound, Kaohu Store, Tobi’s Shave Ice, Tin Roof, and Pukalani Superette. Support local, 1,000 percent.
I will be opening a bakery in April but in the meantime you can find us at the Maui Sunday Market in Kahului, and Look for Cymz_ Sweet_Kre8tionz at ABC Store at Kam 1, Island Gourmet markets, Island Grocery Kahului, TJ’s Warehouse, Pukalani Superette. Custom orders, catering, and events are all welcome too.
Eric Purugganan, Executive Chef of The Plantation House
On Sunday nights I have a Hawaiian-inspired tasting menu at The Plantation House from 6pm to 8pm. It’s a five-course plating with poke, short rib bao, mahi mahi with lomi tomatoes, pulehu steak with macadamia nut rice, and a pineapple cake with pineapple coconut ice cream.
On our dinner menu, our Hawaiian kampachi and Kaua‘i prawns dish is a bestseller. I sell a lot of this dish. This comes with coconut curry made with lemongrass and ginger, Okinawan sweet potato, carrots, and snow peas garnished with lotus root, cilantro, and flowers. Also the classic Hawa‘ii Regional Cuisine local Mahi with a mac nut crust and romesco. I use coconut palm on the menu and ti leaf. I also like to use hibiscus to make floral tea mixed with a large mixture of herbs, and use it like broth to serve with fish.
Cuisine in Hawai‘i should really have a sense of place. I really like working with local farmers who have a passion for high quality produce.
If I am going out, I head to Lineage. Chef Sheldon’s take on local food is inspiring. One time I was helping out with the Maui Chef’s Table and remember him foraging for mountain apples in ‘Iao to serve with local Malama Farms’ pork loin. I also appreciate Poi by the Pound where my must have Hawaiian food is always the lau lau. The best local food is at baby’s first lu‘au – that is where you can find all the local food. I always go for the tako luau, chicken long rice, lomi salmon, and, of course, lau lau is my favored dish.
Kevin Posada, Executive Chef of Maui Brewing Company
The most popular dish on the menu that describes cultural heritage is our loco moco and our MBC burger.
It’s important to have this item on the menu as it pays respect to the land of Maui since every vegetable in that dish is fiercely local. It showcases the handcraft of our brewery, as the sauce to finish the dish is our Bikini Blonde Ale gravy. It also features the Maui onions with their sweet delicate character along with rice that is freshly milled in Hawai‘i.
Our burger is 100 percent Maui beef. We are big advocates of sustainability and supporting our local farmers. Our restaurant’s facility also shows that, as it runs partly on renewable energy.
It’s imperative to have these items on the menu to represent to our visitors that we love what the island is producing and are proud that we can support our local farmers.
For Hawaiian food I enjoy the local spot Da Kitchen. My favorite must-have Hawaiian dish is kalua pork and poi; I love the three finger poi consistency and its delicate slight sour funk.
Gary Timmons, Dope BBQ Food Truck
At Dope BBQ our menu consists of a southern style barbeque that is rich in flavor and culture. BBQ is a way of life in the South and there is something primal about cooking meat with a wood fire that I really love. Every weekend we bring the best flavors of the South to Maui. Our collard greens and cabbage are locally sourced – that’s as close to a canoe plant as we have. Our collard greens seem like the item with the most heritage to me, but then there is the brisket. Our brisket is smoked for 12 hours over a wood fire. The taste and texture is straight from Texas, just like our smoker. We make our own BBQ sauce and rub which we are currently trying to market for retail.
Our menu has sliders made with pulled pork, coleslaw, and marinated onions on a jalapeno cheddar cornbread muffin; chicken and waffle sliders with fresh made waffles, smoked chicken, and a maple sage drizzle; BBQ tacos with pulled pork, coleslaw, marinated onions, cilantro, cheese, and BBQ sauce; street corn (elotes), roasted corn on the cob topped with BBQ aioli queso fresca and our dope BBQ rub; and a BBQ burrito with saffron rice, black beans, pulled pork, coleslaw, marinated onions, cilantro, BBQ sauce. Last week’s special sandwich was the brisket reuben: brisket, pepper jack parmesan blend, thousand island, and coleslaw on rye.
For my Hawaiian food craving I go to Da Kitchen for my favorite local food, poke, and kalbi ribs.
We currently set up at the Maui Saturday Swap Meet at UHMC 7am-1pm, the Maui Sunday Market at the Kahului Shopping Center parking lot from 4-8pm, and First Fridays Wailuku Town party from 6-9pm.
Craig Dryhurst, Chef of Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
At private lu‘au’s we use pohole ferns in salads and taro for our fresh homemade sweet bread. Our poke bowl is the most popular Hawaiian dish at the resort. We also make beautiful breadfruit chips.
It is important to have these plants on the menu to show that what people brought to the island still has relevance in modern Hawaiian cooking.
When I think of eating canoe plants I think of ‘ulu and John Cadman’s pono pies. I love Pono Pies. They’re my non-guilty pleasure. If I am going for local food I love some huli huli chicken. Then, I also like to go to Ko at the Kea Lani or Lineage at the Shops at Wailea.
Alexa Caskey, Co-owner of Moku Roots
We use tons of taro, ‘ulu, and coconut. We basically designed our menu around canoe plants! Our taro burger is becoming the go-to veggie burger option for restaurants around the island, as well as at Moku Roots of course. We make them from lo’i grown taro from Keanae with other local veggies and spices. We also use taro in some of our breads and tropsicles. We do a lot with ‘ulu. The very ripe ‘ulu we use for sweet dishes and make it into custard that is incredible. The less ripe ‘ulu we make gnocchi, use in breads, fry as chips, and use in conjunction with yuca as pizza dough and gluten-free flat breads.
Our two “milk” options that we offer for coffee as well as in smoothies and other elixirs are mac nut and coconut milk. We make all of our own coconut milk. Then with the defatted pulp that’s left over in the process we make coconut flour for brownies and banana bread. My new favorite coconut item, however, is coconut bacon! We finely slice aged and dehydrated coconut meat, marinate it, and saute it up – it tastes a lot like bacon. It’s incredible.
We wrap all of our to-go food in ti leaves. In all honesty, yuca (cassava) is a great heritage plant that we love. It is the magical ingredient in vegan gluten-free baking to keep things together for one, so it’s a great partner for coconut flour in our banana bread and brownies. We also create vegan omelettes with it, no joke. Our most popular use of it, however, is falafel; we don’t use the traditional garbanzo beans in the falafel, it’s all yuca and herbs and spices, so it’s far moister than traditional falafel.
We are so incredibly honored when locals come in who either grow taro or grew up eating taro, and they tell us how much they love our taro burger. We love being able to support the farmers who’ve been growing this incredible plant for generations, especially in an environment that isn’t buying as much taro as it used to. We buy hundreds of pounds per week and being able to create something out of a plant that most tourists don’t particularly understand or enjoy in its typical form of poi is really amazing.
I think all sustainable agriculture is extremely important. When you take into account the cultural significance of kalo, it is of utmost importance to maintain the industry and demand for this product so that farmers can continue to grow and sell it, and teach the keiki how to as well.
Joey and Mitzi Toro, Owners of The Maui Cookie Lady
I am inspired just walking out the door. We are fortunate here to have beautiful edibles growing not only on our property, with very little effort to maintain, but wild all over the island. My husband Joey and his family is the heritage influence that is present for me. His family roots come from the Philippines and banana, mango, and coconut are present in many dishes.
One of our best selling cookies is called “Grown-Up Samoas.” This utilizes coconut and also locally brewed Coconut Hiwa Porter from Maui Brewing Co. We also make a Maui Monkey Cookie that has banana and also macadamia nuts from Waihe’e Farms. We can’t forget our seasonal liliko‘i cookie, and the pineapple lychee passion cookie that has hibiscus flowers, white tea rosehips, and citrus chocolate.
By far the “Grown-Up Samoas” really embody our unique island food scene. It is unusual to find a beer cookie, yet here we are. Even better that the beer is made from coconuts grown on the island and brewed on Maui. We also use raw organic cane sugar in all our cookies. We partner with Maui Brewing Co. for the sugar as well. When they order their sugar for the root beer they are gracious enough to order for us as well.
These Maui ingredients showcase the beauty of our island and just like my own family they are a melting pot of cultures.
When we go out looking for Hawaiian food and a great canoe plant meal we frequent Poi by the Pound, Da Kitchen, and Nuka. My husband brings home his favorite squid luau and laulau from Poi by the Pound on a regular basis.
I also love all the variety of poke he brings home from Takamiya Market.
Tylun Pang, Executive Chef of Ko Restaurant, Fairmont Kea Lani
We have a lot of canoe plants on the menu including sweet potato, taro, coconut, banana, and mountain apple when it is in season. We also use olena for tea, and candle nut and limu in our poke. I would say poke is the most popular dish right now. Then there is the taro leaf for lau lau and luau stew.
For me these plants are a part of the island culture. They represent our sense of place. It’s educational for our visitors. We even grow kalo, niu, ko, and banana for guests to see.
On Maui I recently ate a Hawaiian plate from a food truck it was called Momona Bowls. It was tasty home cooked Hawaiian food — mahalo bruddah Kamaka! Then there is Takamiya Market, Pukalani Superette, and Poi by the Pound – all good local grindz! My go-to Hawaiian food dish is squid luau, preferably made with local tako. There is nothing like it!
At Ko we have complimentary valet parking for our guests and 30 percent off food and off wine by the bottle for kama’aina.
Sarojini Harris, Founding Member and Chef of Jini’s Curry, Fijian Indian Food
We hail from Fiji Islands, where the island has an abundance of coconuts, ‘ulu, kalo, and a wide variety of root crops like taro and tapioca. These items show up in our menu. When available we also use fiddle head fern greens (pako), karamua (water spinach), and various herbs.
Moringa leaves dominate our daily menu in our dal. We have coconut curries almost everyday and we use coconut oil in our cooking. We use taro leaves and it is cooked in coconut cream with Indian spices. Sweet potato leaves are rich in iron and on our menu almost every week.
These ingredients are important, as they are rich in iron and minerals, locally grown, and always fresh.
When I want to explore other heritage foods I like to go to Thai restaurants where they use most of the ingredients we use in our kitchens. I prefer vegetarian food. It all depends where we are and what is available that is healthy.
Tammy Ringbauer, Owner of Anuenue Juice Truck
I grew up with true, real, genuine “back to the land” hippies. So that is the cultural heritage that I identify with the most. That was our lifestyle and our community and our life. What that means for me is growing up near fruit orchards and learning how to glean at an early age. It also means that my parents had incredible gardens in the size of acres. Eating organic and local back then wasn’t quite as popular as it is now, and I’m grateful that I have those roots to pass on to my community now. I ate out of the garden more than I ate at the dinner table! I ate peaches as big as my head, carrots fresh from the ground, and peas right off the vine! Thanks Mom and Dad!
The one canoe plant that fits in well with what we do, juices, smoothies and acai bowls, is noni. We’ve played around with it a little bit, and found that it’s best when blended into a tropical fruit smoothie. The distinct flavor actually sneaks in with other fresh fruits instead of taking over the entire thing, due to it’s intense flavor and aroma. For me, any tropical fruit, vegetable, or root that is grown in Hawai‘i is a cultural heritage plant.
We absolutely love being able to go to a fresh fruit stand or farmers market to pick out the very best ingredients for our juices, smoothies, and bowls. We do use freshly made apple juice in some of our recipes, and if you didn’t already know, apples don’t grow much in Hawai‘i. We favor green apples, granny smith, for their lower sugar content and tart flavor. They’re excellent for juicing. Almost every apple we use comes from my home state. Being from Washington State, apples are a huge part of my cultural heritage, so I’m happy that our recipes are a “melting pot” of my past and my present lives.
Another way cultural heritage ties into our business is in our love for pineapple! Anuenue Juice Truck was born on the island of Lana’i, which is the Pineapple Isle. Pineapples no longer grow as a crop on Lana’i, but the pineapple is still highly regarded as many of the families, traditions, and businesses grew from pineapple plantation days.
Our pineapple zinger is likely our most popular juice that embraces cultural heritage. It is made with fresh pineapple, lemon, liliko‘i, ginger, and apple. Everything except for the apple is grown on Maui.
It is incredibly important to use local fruits and vegetables for many reasons: First off, at Anuenue we stand behind our promise of freshness. When it’s local, it’s at its freshest state! In addition to quality that comes from local produce, there is also the importance of sustainability. If we buy local and use local, we support a healthy economy, ecology, and community!
I’ve been so excited to get more into ‘ulu, and taro! The best thing I’ve had with ‘ulu are Pono Pies! I’ve also had ‘ulu marinated like artichoke hearts; a chef friend of mine made that on Kaua‘i. At home, my son makes awesome Hawaiian style dinners with fresh fish caught by him! That is the best Hawaiian food ever.
You will find Anuenue Juice Truck at the Saturday Swap Meet, Friday Town Parties, and soon at the corner of Vineyard and Market Streets by the Hi Thai Truck.
Peleg Miron, Executive Chef of Spago Maui
The preparation of raw fish has influenced me the most here on the island. The bountiful fish we have around is just too good of an ingredient. I love using it in the restaurant or at home with coconut milk, or without and instead with a little of inamona kukui or just some sea salt.
On the menu as Spago you will find we use coconuts, ti, sugarcane, breadfruit, and noni. Not to mention we use jackfruit, ti, and coconut on a regular basis. Our poke is the most popular dish. It is a twist on the traditional poke with some California influence, but you have to come in and see for yourself!
We use the ti leaf to steam local fish. We also use the same leaf to grill the fish so there is a nice smoked flavor to it.
When I travel or when I eat at home, I always try to eat from what is around, what is nearby. I am a big believer in eating locally and sourcing ingredients locally. It not only showcases the island’s heritage but it also brings a different taste to classic Spago dishes.
The produce section in Mana Foods is a good source for canoe plants. When I want Hawaiian food I go to Ka‘Ana Kitchen, Sushi Paradise, and Oki’s Seafood in Kahului. My must have dish is the poke and lau lau.
Desmund Manaba, Chief Operating Officer of Molokai Wildlife Management, LLC
The beauty of the protein that axis deer provides is astounding. It has been featured on Iron Chef America a few times, and chefs all around the world now prefer axis deer then any other wild game protein because of it’s high quality and exoticness. I also read a grade book in meats that has axis deer as one of the highest in quality. We at Molokai Wildlife Management have expanded our horizons in producing different kinds of value added products with venison. We have experimented with many different kinds of sausages and hotdogs. We have also smoked different kinds of cures and now make a corn venison liquid cure product.
Our venison is available on Maui. Tobi’s Shave Ice and the Molokai Livestock sells to a few other vendors on Maui. We used to sell to Mama’s Fish House and Royal Hawaiian Venison. On Moloka‘i, we will be at the Kumu Farms, Sustainable Molokai, and Molokai Livestock Cooperative. On O‘ahu, we’ll be at Roy’s Hawaii Kai, Makana’s Provisions, and Chef Zone Y Hatta. On the Big Island, we’re available through Umeke’s Restaurant.
We do make a few different styles of summer sausage. We do a hot or mild, four hours smoked. Or we do raw sausage to our vendors and they smoke or cook their own. Our sausages have no MSG, no nitrates, and are gluten free. We use all natural ingredients. We also do hotdogs.
Everything is made at the federal USDA Plant 21699 Molokai Livestock Cooperative. Our 1-pound sausages go for $13 per pound if you’re buying bulk cases. If not, they are sold $15 per pound.
Molokai Wildlife Management is all about conservation. So we are harvesting the wild deer and trying to bring down the population to a manageable state. We are also making sure the doe to buck numbers are where they should be.
Javier Barberi, Owner of Mala, Down the Hatch, and Breakwall Shave Ice
We use a variety of local food in our kitchen, from sugarcane for our natural shave ice syrups, bread baked locally, fish caught and brought into the Lahaina Harbor, local produce from Upcountry, and limes from our friends in the Shark Pit neighborhood.
Since we are from the South we are influenced by our Southern cultural heritage, soul food, and more hearty meals like our shrimp po boy or chicken and waffles. Since we have all relocated and call Maui our home, we are also influenced by Polynesian culture cuisine such as kalua pig which we use in many dishes. You will find these influences in the niu and ko (sugarcane) on the menu, and also in local coffee beans. We use liliko‘i for our cream cheese, sauces, and bar juices, pineapple in our muffins, fruit plates, and cocktails, and prickly pear in our cocktails.
Our Southern-style fried chicken eggs benedict served on a biscuit and topped with sausage gravy really encompasses many aspects of the cultural heritage from the South. Our fresh ahi poke really reminds me of the flavors of Hawai‘i, using fresh local fish and adding delicious local avocados to our dish.
I use ‘ulu often to make home fries in the morning for my kids. It is important to me to use these island ingredients. It is critical for the longevity of these plants. Then we can order less from the mainland and move towards sustainability. This is key in Hawai’i.
When I am in the mood for local food and a meal created with canoe plants I think of Savage Kitchen, Moku Roots, and Lineage. I also love side of the road huli huli chicken. My friend Iwa makes amazing mochiko chicken, better than Tin Roof! My must have Hawaiian food dish is probably poke, because I love all the different flavors and varieties. My spot for local food is RVN Deli and Catering by Ace Hardware, for chicken katsu, two scoops mac salad, and rice.
Megan Kanekoa and Jackie Goring, Owners of Wailuku Coffee Co.
We love our coffee culture here in Wailuku and so our heritage plant has to be coffee. Coffee was brought to Hawai’i in the early 1800s, but has grown into an important and recognizable industry for the state and Maui. We serve Maui red catuai coffee grown on Maui. You can get it as a brewed coffee option here everyday. You can also buy the beans or ground coffee to consume at home or buy for gifts. We also have the Maui moka bean coffee: It is a peaberry as a pour over coffee, and we also do the Kona coffee that way too. So If you want to try a 100-percent Kona coffee we have it. Maui Oma is our coffee roaster.
We get our macadamia nuts right here from Waihe‘e Farms, but they are not in season right now. We take those and make them into our scones, muffins, and desserts that we bake here fresh daily. Our lemonade is 100-percent Maui meyer lemons and so refreshing. We get the lemons from one of our customers here. There is a big difference using Meyer lemons: It’s not as acidic, and it is a lot smoother. You don’t need as much honey or sugar to make a really yummy lemonade. We are crafting a poi drink so keep an eye out for that in the future. It is still in development.
I just love Moku Roots. It’s the best restaurant and I just discovered it a couple of weeks ago. I am just floored at their no-waste model and love their food. There is a compost bin, linen bin, and no garbage can. There are cloth napkins. I think there are a lot of people in our generation that want to see these kinds of changes too, so when you can capitalize on that it is great. I am super stoked to go to Moku roots and pay $14 for my sandwich because I know I am supporting this model that is inspiring and good for our future and our children’s future.