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CHEF LEE ANNE WONG

1. How important is sourcing locally made oil to your business for self sustainability factor?

At Koko Head Cafe, we strive to showcase as many local ingredients as possible. The reality is there is always a cost factor, with local product sometimes being more expensive than imported commodity goods. Understand that not only are you getting the freshest product possible, you are also supporting a community member and business.  Sustain-ability and food security start with the community working together to create a dynamic and intricate web of relation-ships. I love discovering new products made here in Ha-waii, and getting to meet the people behind them. The fact that these oils are high quality and have multiple health and beauty benefits makes their value inherent.

2. How did you use the oil? Be specific to sunflower oil or macadamia nut oil.

I used the sunflower oil for sautéing sliced leeks. Tradition-ally, I use butter, haha, but I loved the result when using the sunflower oil; the leek flavor came through cleanly. I used the macadamia nut oil for roasting cabbage in the oven. The result was simple but stunning.

3. Please describe the macadamia nut oil and sunflower oil’s appearance, scent, texture, and taste, both raw and cooked. One or two word descriptions are fine. If a cer-tain quality stands out, please elaborate. 

The macadamia nut oil is delightfully complex. Medium vis-cosity, fresh aroma of coffee and cacao mixed with the es-sence of a blonde raw nut. When it cooks it deepens in flavor as a macadamia nut would, becoming nuttier, more roasty.

The sunflower oil is very similar to a fresh  young olive oil with plenty of grassy and green notes. It stands up well to heat and allows whatever you are cooking to shine through flavor wise.  I would use both for raw and cooked applications.

4. Did you find anything surprising about the oils?

After doing some research, discovering the health benefits of both oils makes me reconsider utilizing these in my fats wheelhouse at home. I already use macadamia nut oil at the restaurant but this particular oil was less refined and had more character and flavor. The sunflower oil is an everyday use type for me so I’m excited to cook with it more.

ROASTED CABBAGE

Lee Anne Wong is the chef and owner of Koko Head Cafe in Honolulu, Hawaii. A native of Troy, New York, Wong grad-uated from the International Culinary Center (ICC) and began her culinary training at Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit before playing an integral role in the opening of Jean Georges Vongrichten’s Chinese concept, Restaurant 66. Wong went on to work as the Executive Chef of Event Operations at ICC, during which time she was prominently featured on Season One of Bravo’s Flagship Series “Top Chef”, and subsequently was hired as the series’ Supervising Culinary Producer for the next 6 seasons. Wong has also been featured on numerous food television series in addition to star-ring in her own web series The Wong Way to Cook on bravotv.com. In 2013, Wong moved from New York City to Honolulu where she debuted Koko Head Cafe to popular acclaim. Wong released her first cookbook, Dumplings All Day Wong, in August 2014. Chef Wong continues to expand her brand across the globe, joining the culinary team for Hawaiian Airlines in 2015, and debuting Sweetcatch Poke in NYC in the fall of 2016. She was most recently named Hawaiian Airline’s new Executive Chef, with her menus set to debut in June 2018.

CHEF RON MILLER, HUKILAU LANAI

1. How important is sourcing locally made oil to your business for self sustainability factor?

We work hard to find and use local products at Hukilau Lanai. Produce, fish and meats are all pretty easy to get our hands on. This is the first cooking oil produced in Hawaii that I have used. Each year (weʻre 16 years old this month) there seems to be more products available. Of course quality trumps all, so we canʻt use a local product unless it is of high quality. I believe we have it with both oils.

2. How did you use the oil? Be specific to sunflower oil or macadamia nut oil.

I made a Kona Kanpachi Poke Bowl using both oils. The Kanpachi poke was tossed with avocado, cucumber, onion, limu and a yuzu, white soy & sunflower oil vinaigrette. It was served on a bed of macadamia nut rice which was infused with the macadamia nut oil. The raw fish was topped with a yuzu kosho aioli made with the sunflower oil.

3. Please describe the macadamia nut oil and sunflower oil’s appearance, scent, texture, and taste, both raw and cooked. One or two word descriptions are fine. If a certain quality stands out, please elaborate.

The macadamia nut oil is crazy flavorful. It does to macadamia nuts what sesame oil does to sesame seeds. Neat toasted nutty cacao flavor really comes through. The macadamia nut oil is a great flavor enhancer. I added a tablespoon of oil to two cups cooked (warm) rice with toasted diced macadamia nuts and a pinch of salt. This was the bed for the poke bowl. The clear oil has a brown hue and is slightly viscous similar to sesame oil. Cooking the macadamia nut oil broke it down rapidly. I see it being a finishing oil more then a cooking oil.

The sunflower oil is a pretty yellowish green color. It has a similar viscosity to olive oil. It has a rich somewhat green flavor that I would compare to some California olive oils. The rich green earthy flavor was really accentuated when I used it to make the aioli. The oil stood up well to heat. I seared some fresh fish in it and was really pleased with the result. I can see using this oil as a cooking medium.

4. Did you find anything surprising about the oils?

I was surprised at the complex flavors of both oils. They couldn’t be more different from one another. The macadamia nut oil has so much going on. I shared a blind taste with several sous chefs and cooks. I wish you could have seen their expressions. They lit up, smiled, and said, “Wow! What is that?” They too were impressed.

KONA KANPACHI POKE BOWL

Chef/Owner Ron Miller began his Hukilau Lanai journey as Executive Chef in 2002 when the restaurant opened. At that time, Ron began searching for interesting local products to serve. Exciting new partnerships were formed, many of whom still contribute to the menu today. Sixteen years later the small produce farmers and local artisans abound, and the possibilities seem endless. Local fisher-people have always played a starring role on the Hukilau Lanai menu. The restaurant is a certified member of the Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, which helps guide consumers and buyers to sustainable seafood buying choices. When choosing a product, Chef Ron strives to source Kauai first, neighbor island second, and mainland last. Hukilau Lanai has always been a collaborative effort, and a talented and dedicated kitchen staff help keep consistent quality at the forefront. Most nights, Ron can be found where he likes it best, working the line in the kitchen.

CHEF JANA MCMAHON

1. How important is sourcing locally made oil to your business for self sustainability factor?

Excited to have a locally made oil.  Enjoy sharing all locally produced product with clients.

Concerned about the high omega 6 fats in the sunflower oil, but can off set that by consciously combining the food prepared with the high omega 6 oil with a high omega 3 in-gredient.

2. How did you use the oil? Be specific to sunflower oil or macadamia nut oil.

Sunflower oil made some super delicious Molokai purple sweet potato chips. Complimented them with a high omega 3 dip with walnuts, sardines, olive oil, lemon, garlic and salt.

Macadamia nut oil made a beautiful salad dressing. Paired the macadamia nut oil with fresh passionfruit juice, rice wine vinegar, honey and sea salt. Also made a really good simple sherry vinaigrette with the macadamia nut oil.

3. Please describe the macadamia nut oil and sunflower oil’s appearance, scent, texture, and taste, both raw and cooked. One or two word descriptions are fine. If acer-tain quality stands out, please elaborate. 

Sunflower oil: clean taste, subtle sunflower seed scent and flavor.

Macadamia Nut oil: more viscous, umami scent and flavor from nut flavor profile. Both oils have a predominate nut like flavor.

4. Did you find anything surprising about the oils?

No surprises. Sunflower oil is very versatile.

BAKED MOLOKAI PURPLE SWEET POTATO CHIPS

Chef Jana McMahon has owned a Maui-based private chef business for 15 years, specializing in locally sourced Hawaiian ingredients and food restricted diets. Jana’s food philosophy is quality ingredients make good food. Simply beautiful meals are created from fresh beautiful ingredients which allows the food to sing. Chef Jana also works at a non-profit which teaches and advocates for people touched by autism by creating 365 days of healthy whole food-based menus. Obesity rates went from 80% to 18% within 20 months of implementing the menus. Jana’s YouTube Channel, Jana Eats, debuts June 2018. The cooking show will showcase delicious, healthy gluten and dairy free foods for people with auto-immune issues and autism. Jana currently has a live streaming TV show, Cooking with Jana, on The Autism Channel and co-stars with her autistic sidekick, Jason Brummett. Cooking with Jana was recently selected by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to be included on the ship’s in-cabin video feed. Chef Jana is a degreed horticulturalist, a Hawaii Master Gardener, a beekeeper, and grows organic produce and herbs for her clients’ meals. She also has her own laying hens. She is a founding member of Slow Food Maui, and a member of the Women Chefs & Restauranteurs Association.

Maui Chefs Invitational

View info about the 2017 event here.

While Hawaii is home to many excellent restaurants and boasts a vibrant food culture all its own, our physical distance from the rest of the country can lend a touch of isolation to our culinary experience. The Maui Chefs Invitational promises to breathe a breath of fresh air into Maui’s food scene—how could it not? The Mill House restaurant, led by Executive Chef Jeff Scheer, has invited seven of the nation’s finest chefs to Maui for a week-long meeting-of-the-minds culminating in a three-day culinary event featuring two exclusive Chef’s Table-style dinners and a more informal Sunday afternoon BBQ. With each of the chefs imbuing the event with their own style and expertise the Invitational should result in a culinary collage of epic proportions; a mixing pot of tastes, techniques, and talents.

Many of us are familiar with the Chef’s Table layout, an intimate and interactive dining experience that highlights local ingredients and allows attendees to witness the creation of a multi-course meal before their very eyes. Diners are encouraged to get close to the action, talk with the chefs and ask questions. Geared towards people with a deep passion for food, Chef’s Table provides a creative outlet for top-notch chefs to experiment and showcase their abilities. With eight widely-acclaimed chefs on the roster this collaboration is bound to be nothing short of inspirational.

And the best part? We’re all invited.

For tickets and more information visit www.mauichefsinvitational.com.

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Taste of Upcountry: Bringing the Farm to the Table in Support of Kids’ Education on Maui

img_4281The board of directors, staff, faculty and parents of Montessori School of Maui have announced a brand-new culinary event, “Taste of Upcountry”, scheduled for Saturday, October 8th, 2016, 6:00-10:00 PM on the beautifully manicured grounds of their campus at 2933 Baldwin Avenue in Makawao. Individual tickets and sponsor tables are now on sale. Proceeds support this nonprofit school that was founded in 1978 and has since grown to make major impacts on the lives of Maui’s keiki.

Taste of Upcountry is designed to highlight Maui’s many talented chefs and diversity of local farmers and purveyors, who provide an abundance of food and produce on the island. The launch of this event will create a tradition of sharing and enjoying farm to table cuisine with the community.

While great food is the centerpiece of the evening, the festivities (hosted by well-known Maui emcee Kainoa Horcajo) also include a silent and live auction, and live acoustic music by Benny Uyetake and ManaBrasil. Cocktails, wine and beer will be available for purchase. The event open to the members of the public that are 21 years of age and older.
As the Montessori School of Maui’s primary fundraising event for the 2016-17 school year, Taste of Upcountry event will generate proceeds to support the school’s operating budget.  Each year, the school raises funds for student programs, teachers’ professional development, campus maintenance costs and tuition assistance for students.

As of press time, the following chefs, and restaurants are participating, (subject to change):
Farm to Table Dinner Tastes By:

Sean Christensen, Maui Country Club
Ben Diamond, The Wooden Crate at Lumeria
Gary King, Oceanside Maui
Cameron Lewark, Spago at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
Jennifer Nguyen, Saigon Cafe
Sheldon Simeon, Tin Roof Maui
Roger Stettler, Taverna
Kevin Bell, Ulupalakua Ranch Store Grill
Uma Dugied, Star Anise Catering
Desserts by:
Emily King, Oceanside Restaurant

Cocktails & Bar Service By:

Ross Steidel, Perfect Pour Maui

Featuring:
Hali’imaile Distilling/Pau Vodka

Taste of Upcountry’s corporate sponsors include: 

Hawaii Petroleum
Pacific Rimland/Goodfellow Brothers Inc.

Hope Builders
The Rice Partnership

General Admission tickets start at: $100. Seated General Admission Tickets are $125 and VIP Tables of 10 start at $2500. To purchase tickets, or to find more information and a description of VIP perks, please visit: https://momi.ejoinme.org/tasteofupcountry or call: (808) 573-0374

Chef Jay Johnson

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WRITTEN BY MELISSA CHANG
PHOTOGRAPH OF CHEF JAY JOHNSON BY ANNA KIM
PHOTOGRAPHS OF FOOD BY MELISSA CHANG

Chef Jay Johnson, a Hilo native, had never been to Maui until he interviewed for the position of Executive Chef at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar at Travaasa Hana. He probably wouldn’t have ever gone to Oahu, but his wife’s family is from Waimanalo. “Why would I ever need to go to Maui? I’m not related to anyone there,” Johnson explained, as only a true local boy can. Thus, he’s never been to Kauai, either.

Moving to a new island meant learning new things about the ingredients and cooking styles, adjusting to the Maui palates while showing them his Big Island style. “There’s more mahimahi here, while there’s more ahi on the Big Island. Even the pohole — I know it as warabi — they eat it raw on Maui. Usually we blanch it first,” he muses.

“When I first got here, I wanted to personally meet everyone — fishermen, farmers, vendors — and coordinate the menu according to what is available. One result from these face-to-face meetings is we selected to partner with Hana Ranch. We also have small farmers providing fresh fruits, herbs, pohole ferns, hearts of palm,” Johnson said. “About 75 percent of our ingredients are local and we want that percentage to grow.” His food philosophy is “keep it simple,” but make no mistake, Johnson has a very refined chef resume.

He started in the kitchen at age 16, when his mother was running the restaurant at Uncle Billy’s Kona and his brother was the chef. It was a way to keep a close watch on him, but he found he loved it. “You get to play with food every day, and put a smile on people’s faces. There’s nothing better than that,” he said.

From there he worked at several restaurants in Kona, followed by the Ritz Carlton Waikoloa and Waikoloa Village. He opened Roy’s there in the 1990s, then bounced between resorts in Hilo and Kona before landing at the Volcano House in 2013. Travaasa Hana General Manager David MacIlwraith, who previously worked alongside him at the Volcano House, recruited him to Hana in August 2015.

“I’ve done all the fancy sauces and stuff, but I wanted to go back to how I grew up, when all these pre-made products weren’t available.” Johnson and MacIlwraith overhauled Travaasa Hana’s signature restaurant menu and renamed it The Preserve Kitchen + Bar, just one of many changes in the resort’s $12 million renovation project. Here’s a look at some of his recipes.

Recipes

Hana Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Curry Candied Ginger

Misoyaki Torched Kampachi with Smoked Soy Sauce and Scallion Oil

Roasted Hana Seasonal Root Vegetables with Wasabi Goat Cheese Dressing

The Pragmatic Hard Work of Roy Yamaguchi

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Written by Kelly McHugh
Photography courtesy of Eating House 1849

Roy Yamaguchi is a phenomenon: An international culinary creator and visionary of Hawaiian fusion cuisine; recipient of the prestigious James Beard Award; television host of “Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi,” airing in more than 60 countries; cookbook series publisher and founder of a rather significant collection of restaurants including 30 Roy’s Restaurants in the United States and Guam, the now closed Tavern by Roy Yamaguchi and his latest creation, Eating House 1849, he’s pretty much killing it. And rightly so, considering his pragmatic approach to his work.

“How do I do it?” He asks, “I just put my head down and I do the work. I never look up. I never ask myself ‘why.’ I don’t ask any questions. And I never take any of it for granted.”

The menu for this latest venture Eating House 1849 in Kaua‘i took two years to conceptualize, a testament to the quality of both care and resolve given to his work.“I knew that our Roys’ lease was going to be ending over in Po‘ip–u, and I had already begun dreaming up a new concept based on Peter Fernandez’s mid-1800s style of using only what was available from local farmers, ranchers, foragers and fishermen,” he remarks.“When I had a chance to shop at The Shops at Kukui‘ula and saw the surroundings, it really kind of fit everything into place.”

Yamaguchi’s idea is to take the Portuguese – Filipino flair of Roy’s and blend it with American cooking. “What you see on the menu today is only about 10 percent a reflection of what it looked like a few years ago,” he reveals. “It’s gone through a lot of transitions of writing, tweaking, tasting, executing and starting the process all over again until it’s right.”

In this case,“right” is not tuned to a creative vision per se,but the inextricable link between taste and memory. “My grandfather worked on a Maui plantation and ran a restaurant in the 1940s,” he recalls. “I remember visiting him during our summer vacations and eating his plantation paella, a Hawai‘i-style approach to a traditionally Span- ish dish. Generally paella is more or less a dry, rice dish, but my grandfather would start his off with a tomato base and make it very brothy and rich – more of a stew or a soup. I remember he used to make this for the farmers, served up in a cast iron dish. It brings back a lot of memories.”

Chances are,Yamaguchi has also created a taste memory for you as he attributes any success he has had to the community at large with whom he feeds, employs and otherwise intermingles. “No, my inspiration doesn’t come from food; it isn’t a question of what I eat periodically,” he says.“I get inspired every day that I work. From colors that I see to textures that I feel to people that I meet. It’s not about food- it’s about life. And no B.S.”

“It’s not about food- it’s about life. And no B.S.”

Now we’re getting somewhere.

“Many years ago we tried to figure out what Roy’s really is,” he goes on to explain.“It’s about ‘No B.S.’ We have a job to do. We have our missions. On a day-to-day basis, we’re cooking for guests. We want to make sure that our staff is happy and we treat them with respect. We want to take care of our guests’ needs with a ‘get the job done’ attitude, and deliver a wow factor that we hope will get them to come back.We operate such that what we did last night determines how successful we will be today. We have to prove ourselves over and over again on a sec- ond-by-second basis. Their perception could change within seconds! So we take care of each and every guest.”

And with this, I realize that Roy and I are both exhaling; caught up in a moment of excitement for what he very clearly has a passion and a calling for: Quality.

I release him from our discussion with one final question: “What’s the best thing that happened to you all week?”

He repeats my words.Twice. Mulls it over and states plainly, “I got home yesterday after four days on the main- land, all business, opened the fridge, grabbed some leftover dim sum, ate that and relaxed.That was nice.”

A Passion For Food Sustainability

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Written by Fern Gavelek
Photography by Anna Pacheco

When you ask Scott Hiraishi what’s his favorite ingredient, he quickly replies, “anything sustainable from Hawai‘i Island.”

And why does he cook? “To make people happy and create a memorable experience,” he grins.

The executive chef at The Feeding Leaf, a Kona catering and event company, has a passion for food sustainability and fostering chef-farmer relationships. With over two decades of culinary experience, Hiraishi has been wowing Hawai‘i diners at numerous restaurants and community culinary fundraisers. Shy and humble when talking about himself, the 40-yearold beams with pride when discussing the Big Isle’s hard-working food providers.

“I admire my lettuce farmer, Zac,” shares Chef Scott. “His son is ill but he’s still farming every day, still producing beautiful food.”

To help Zac with medical expenses, Scott came up with a month of special lunch and dinner menus showcasing the farmer’s lettuce. Proceeds were donated to the effort.

“People like Zac are not just business relationships, but friendships,” continues Hiraishi.

The simple need to bring a prepared dish to baseball potlucks is what got a young Scott Hiraishi in the kitchen. He concocted desserts and local favorites like mochi to share with teammates. Ironically, Chef “doesn’t do desserts” anymore, explaining that baking is a more difficult, refined process. “Cooking is way easier and you can be more flexible.”

After graduating from O‘ahu’s Pearl City High School, Scott decided he would try a career in culinary arts. The teen enrolled in Hawai‘i Community College-West Hawai‘i and got a job at Sam Choy’s restaurant located in the then-Kona Bowl.

“Everything just fell into place; I was very fortunate,” recalls Scott, who worked alongside his mentor for 13 years. “Sam taught me to do it the right way; the way it’s supposed to be done—rather than taking shortcuts.”

Other culinary stints were at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and The Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. When Sam Choy opened his Kai Lanai restaurant in Keauhou, Scott served as Chef De Cuisine for three years before helping form The Feeding Leaf last summer. The company took off with its aprons on, creating the coffee-themed Roast & Roots event and participating in the Hawai‘i Food and Wine Festival, where Chef Scott offered a Kona Coffee Rubbed Beef Carpaccio using 100 percent locally sourced ingredients. More recently, he prepared an entr.e of Molokai Venison with a canoe crop hash for the Kona Edible Event—a fundraiser for the “I Am Ha–loa” kalo documentary.

At The Feeding Leaf, Chef Scott creates meals for activity outfitters like Hawai‘i Forest and Trail and KONASTYLE Sailing Adventures. In an effort to educate visitors about island food sustainability, the menu incorporates local canoe crops—kalo (taro), ‘ulu (breadfruit), ‘uala (sweet potato) banana and coconuts— plus macadamia nuts, produce and value-added products like Original Hawaiian Chocolate, Punalu‘u Sweet Bread and Atebara Chips.

“Serving locally sourced food on our catamaran is an awesome tool,” notes Kalani Nakoa of KONASTYLE. “We tie the ingredients into our stories about Hawai‘i…I can point to where their banana came from as we bounce among ahupua‘a.”

Succinctly summing up his preference for using locally sourced ingredients, Chef says, “My passion with food focuses on being as sustainable as I can. I go out to farms to find out what’s new and fresh and I use it. I support the local economy.”

A Pastry Chef’s Dream

Words by Melissa Chang
Photography by Melissa Chang & Jamie Takaki

When Michelle Karr Ueoka was in high school, she wasn’t thinking about becoming an award-winning pastry chef: She was on the Hawaii golf team, making a name for herself in the golf circuit.

She wasn’t even thinking about it when she got to the University of Hawaii, when she was majoring in Travel Industry Management. But one day, it clicked.

“I was doing an externship at Alan Wong’s, and he asked me if I knew how to cook. I said no, and he thought I was being humble … but I didn’t know how to hold a knife correctly or turn on a pilot light,” she said. “I always enjoyed cooking with my grandmother, even though I didn’t cook. Working there inspired me to learn to be a chef.”

She headed to the Culinary Institute of America, using money she had saved from waitressing at Planet Hollywood Waikiki to pay for her tuition. While there, she decided to apply for a coveted externship at The French Laundry, and sent owner/chef Thomas Keller a toothbrush and a letter saying she would do anything for the opportunity, even scrub toilets with a toothbrush.

She got the externship, of course, and was at The French Laundry for two years until she graduated from the CIA in 2000. She came home to again work for Alan Wong, this time as a chef. (This is also where she met her husband, Wade Ueoka, the chef de cuisine.) Although Alan wanted her to work in savory, she was adamant that she become a pastry chef.

“I had to put myself on the path to my dream,” she said.

For Ueoka, the years of training in savory laid the fundamentals of cooking out for her so she could create the sweet.

“You need to understand how to make the basics first, or you can’t get creative,” Ueoka explained. “For example, there are so many custards … but if you don’t know how to make it, you can’t recreate it. What happens if you add coffee? Or coconut? You have to make a good custard before you can experiment with flavors.”

Ueoka became the first woman from Hawaii to be nominated for a James Beard Award — and being so humble, she had no idea she had been nominated, or that she was the first woman.

The day the nominations came out, her East Coast friends were texting her congratulations and she didn’t know what for. One friend called her to tell her she had been nominated, and she thought he was joking— so she hung up on him. She later apologized when he sent her a picture and a link.

“In my wildest dreams, I would never have thought I would have gotten the nomination. The other James Beard categories are separated by region. Pastry nominations cover the entire U.S.,” she explained. “It was truly an honor and great to share with the team.”

She’s been busy with husband Wade at their self-named MW Restaurant, which opened in October 2013. It’s been a learning experience for them in business and in cooking, and they’re moving forward with a new private dining room adjacent to the venue, as well as offering wine dinners, cooking demos and more.

“You gotta dream big,” Ueoka said, with a big smile. “It’s a journey. We’re striving for excellence, and looking to make things even better.”

Culinary Ink: Collin Darrell

Collin Darrell was only nine years old when he started washing dishes at a local farmer’s market in Philadelphia. (He wanted a new bicycle and wound up making enough money to buy two cars.) From there, he got a job working at a pizza shop— first as a dishwasher, then a pizza maker— and then opened a coffee kiosk at a train station. And he was still in high school. “I think what it did was show me the possibilities,” says Darrell, now 31 and creative director of Grow Culture, a Kaua‘i-based company that links chefs and farmers through innovative events. “I knew the experience was what you made of it.” It wasn’t until he was attending The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College and running a promotion company that he got interested in wine. He took a wine class taught by a passionate master sommelier, then worked for veteran sommelier Michael McCauley at Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in Philadelphia. “I had this incredibly door-opening experience,” he says. After a stint at James on 8th, he took a job as general manager and sommelier at the now-defunct Cassis by Chef Mavro in downtown Honolulu, learning from Mavrothalassitis about the art of food and beverage pairing. He continues to do this with the pop-up dinners he organizes on Kaua‘i. “The synergy between food and beverages at restaurants are few and far between,” he says. “I really believe in this.”

What is your tattoo?

Darrell has a full sleeve on his right arm of various corkscrews and leaves of Nebbiolo, a red Italian grape variety predominated associated with the Piedmont region.

Edible-Collin-012

When did you get it?

He got his first tattoo in 2010 and continues to add to it. He estimates he’s spent at least 25 hours in the chair already.

What was the inspiration?

Darrell chose Nebbiolo grapes because he appreciated the fact that they were so region-specific. “That sense of place was important to me,” he says. And he picked corkscrews because it represented his love for wine and food pairings and it was a symbol of a technological advancement in the industry that’s around now but may not be later. “Plus, they’re beautiful, mechanical devices,” he says. “I wanted something that shows more artisanship and personality. It’s a tool of my trade, the way chefs have knives. It’s the kind of thing you keep in your pocket all the time. It’s really my tool.”