Category: Cooking Fresh

Talking Story with General Manager Nicky Boskoff and Chef Ivan Pahk of Aloha Mixed Plate



When did Aloha Mixed Plate originally open?

NB: Aloha Mixed Plate opened in its current location, oceanfront in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii in 1996. We were briefly located in Kaahumanu Shopping Center in Kahului, Maui, Hawaii a couple of years before but that was short lived.

IP: As we are talking story Aloha Mixed Plate is being completely remodeled along with the menu.

What was the restaurant concept back in 1996 and has that concept changed today?

NB: Aloha Mixed Plate’s concept has always been to feature the food of the plantation days – we have a story we share with our guests to describe the history of the mixed plate that we refer to often.

IP: Our aloha is timeless and, moving forward, we are evolving our food to an extent but keeping the “Aloha is our first name” service standard alive and well. The food now is still of our plantation days but some menu items have been recreated using more modern techniques while keeping true to the flavors of Hawaii. Some specific menu items remain untouched – you need to come in and see what remains unchanged.

Chef Ivan, what was the inspiration for the new menu?

IP: Creating new menu items that reach back to our local favorites and using local ingredients from our own farm where we can utilize modern techniques to improve upon our already flavorful palate. A nod towards modern local food while paying close attention to our mixed plate roots.

Nicky, please tell us about the mission or style of service for Aloha Mixed Plate?

NB: Aloha Mixed Plate has always been casual service – we used to serve everything on paper plates and our service staff was knowledgeable, friendly and fun. Now we are moving toward a more formal setting – no more paper plates – but the service will not be changing. Friendly and fun is a timeless style that we think fits well with our food, our oceanfront location and with the changing food culture on Maui in general. Knowledge is a core feature of service.

We understand you have your own farm, how does this support the restaurant?

NB: Many of the new menu items feature Kalo from our farm, Na Hoaloha Farms. We are proud and diligent about sharing our knowledge about our farm and the many varieties of Kalo we grow there. We also are able to support other local farmers who participate in our farm location and in turn we are able to feature their items on our menu including cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, bananas and much more.

We know the company that owns Aloha Mixed Plate just celebrated their 30-year anniversary, what is the reason for your successful run?

NB: Na Hoaloha Ekolu – our parent company – is run by a team of the most caring people on the planet. I do not overstate when I say that. Besides the non-stop community service we do as a company or as individuals, the leadership – founded by Tim Moore, Michael Moore and Rob Aguiar– puts its employees first. Our success is directly impacted by our employee happiness. It’s by far the best place to work.

IP: I am personally inviting everyone to come and try our new menu; it’s served with a great ocean view and warm friendly service.

Aloha Mixed Plate
1285 Front





Being Social


For those of us living in Hawai’i, being social often seems to come as second nature. Is it our particular social scene or just the natural tendency to be outdoors because of the warm, inviting weather? Despite our love of socializing, making the effort to bring everyone together for a planned event is often skipped due to lack of time or simple failure to make it a priority. We’re here to encourage you to invite a few friends and family over for drinks and pupu– then ask each of them to invite someone you don’t know to grow your circle! There’s no telling who you’ll meet and the impact that person might have on your life.

It all starts with a great location. Choose some place centrally located that has a good vibe and a great reputation. For our recent event, we chose The Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club, a boutique hotel that’s as close to time travel as your likely to get amidst the beaches and bustle of Waikiki. Recently renovated to reflect the style and vibe of 1960s O‘ahu, The Surfjack’s loyal execution of this retro theme is immediately winning. The hotel’s remodel also includes an exciting partnership with like-minded restaurateur, Ed Kenney, for the launch of his fourth O‘ahu-based restaurant, Mahina & Sun’s. Both hotel and restaurant make good on their promise to treat visitors to a healthy dose of “modern aloha.”

Once a location has been chosen, focus on the guest list. Who to invite? We selected friends from all the islands and created a simple invitation detailing the who, what, where, when, and why.

Quickly, all of our open spots filled up with a great mix of personal and business friends. We also decided to give an opportunity to young, up-and-coming photographer Duke Kenney to capture and record our gathering. Looking at the images afterwards, we are thrilled to have quality photos of our event to share and remember our time together.

Now for the food & cocktails. Obviously, the food coming out of the kitchen under the creative supervision of Erik Leong, Chef de Cuisine, was going to be delicious and thoughtful, but the participation of Bar Lead Robert Bidigare kicked things up a notch with the addition of Koloa Rum inspired cocktails serving as perfect compliment to the food. Natalie Aczon, Restaurant Manager of Mahina & Sun’s, made sure the service was on point, and Eric Faivre, VP of Food & Beverage Operations at Aqua-Aston Properties, was there to oversee everything and make sure the event came off without a hitch.

The gathering was flawless. Food and cocktails were delicious, but it was really the people who took the time to come and talk story that made this social event great.

A very special HUI HO to Jeanne Toulon for her friendship with edible Hawaiian Islands magazine – enjoy your retirement and we look forward to our next cocktail!








Recipe Courtesy of Erik Leong, Chef de Cuisine at Mahina & Sun's
Photography by Duke Kenney
Course: Appetizer, Pupu, Side Dish
Servings: 16 Croquetas


  • Pot
  • Potato Masher or Fork
  • Extra Large Bowl
  • Baking Sheet or Plate
  • Slotted Spoon


  • ½ lb. Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. Flat Leaf Parsley Minced
  • ½ lb. Smoked Opah Flaked - Any Smoked Fish Will Do
  • 2 Extra Large Farm Eggs Separated
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • 2 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs
  • Grapeseed Oil for Frying
  • Flaky Sea Salt for After Frying


  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook potatoes until tender.  Peel, cube, and mash with a potato masher in an extra large bowl. Salt & pepper to taste.
  • Flake smoked fish and mix into mashed potato mixture. Add parsley.
  • Separate eggs.  Lightly beat egg yolks and mix with potato mixture.
  • Whip the egg whites until fluffy & stiff.  Slowly fold egg whites into potato mixture and keep fluffy.  Let sit.
  • Roll potato mixture into golf ball sized balls.  Roll balls in panko bread crumbs until fully covered.  Set aside on a baking sheet until oil is ready.
  • Heat oil till it shimmers.  Using a slotted spoon, slowly place potato balls in the hot oil.
  • Cook until golden brown.  Drain balls on paper towels over a baking sheet.  Season with flaky sea salt.
  • Serve with lemon aioli on the side and enjoy!




Recipe Courtesy of Erik Leong, Chef de Cuisine at Mahina & Sun's
Photography by Duke Kenney
Course: Appetizer, Pupu, Side Dish
Author: Erik Leong


  • Pot
  • Wire Rack


  • Pork Skin

Dipping Sauce

  • ¾ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 3 Hawaiian Chili Peppers


Prepare Pork Skin.

  • Boil pork skin for 2 hours in water.
  • When skin is tender remove from water and scrape off all excess fat and meat.
  • Cut the skin into small rectangles, place on a wire rack, and bake in the oven at 200 degrees until dry (5-6 hours).
  • Deep fry dried pork skin. Season aggressively after skin has puffed up and doubled in size.

Prepare Dipping Sauce.

  • Mince garlic and Hawaiian chili peppers.
  • Mix all dipping sauce ingredients together.


  • Serve chicharrones with the dipping sauce and enjoy!




Recipe Courtesy of Robert Bidigare, Bar Lead at Mahina & Sun's
Photography by Duke Kenney
Course: Drinks


  • Shaker
  • Martini Glass


  • 2 oz. Fresh Guava Juice
  • ¾ oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • ¼ Agave or Simple Syrup


  • Combine all ingredients with ice in a shaker.
  • Strain and pour into a chilled Martini glass.
  • Garnish with a lime wheel.
  • Enjoy!




Recipe Courtesy of Robert Bidigare, Bar Lead at Mahina & Sun's
Photography by Duke Kenney
Course: Drinks


  • Open Flame
  • Medium Pot
  • Fine Mesh Strainer
  • Collins Glass


  • ¾ oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • ¾ oz. Charred Poblano Simple Syrup
  • 2 oz. Koloa White Rum
  • 15 Cilantro Leaves
  • Soda Water


Prepare Charred Poblano Simple Syrup.

  • Char fresh poblano chili over open flame until blistered.
  • Allow to cool then peel charred skin, remove seeds and ribs.
  • In a medium pot, combine equal parts sugar and water to dissolve sugar.
  • Add charred poblano chili to the pot.

Prepare Cocktail.

  • Muddle all ingredients except Koloa White Rum.
  • Add ice and Koloa White Rum, shake to mix, and chill.
  • Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a Collins glass.
  • Top off with soda water and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.




Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Author: Chris Damskey


  • Sheet Pan
  • Foil
  • Food Processor
  • Large Stock Pot
  • Grill Pan or Grill or Sauté Pan



  • 3 Red Peppers
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Red Thai Chili Seeded and Minced
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • Cup Macadamia Nuts
  • ½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Sherry Vinegar


  • 2 Cups Celery Chopped
  • 2 Cups Yellow Onions Chopped
  • 1 Cup Fennel Chopped
  • 1 Thyme Sprig
  • 1 Cup Champagne Vinegar
  • 3 Cups Dry White Wine
  • 4 Quarts Distilled Water
  • 2 lbs. Octopus or "Tako" in Hawaiian Head and Beak Removed
  • ¼ Cup Salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  • Preheat oven to 400°. On a sheet pan, line with foil and roast red peppers and garlic cloves for 20 minutes. Flip the peppers and roast for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool, cut away pepper stems, peel the skins, and set aside.
  • In a food processor, puree the Thai chili, and salt until smooth. Add the macadamia nuts, extra virgin olive oil, and sherry vinegar and pulse, so the mixture still has texture. Add the roasted red peppers and garlic and puree just until smooth and set aside or refrigerate overnight.
  • In a large stockpot, coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil, then add celery, onions, fennel, thyme, and sweat on low heat. Add the champagne vinegar and dry white wine, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the distilled water and salt, then bring the water to a low simmer. Add the tako into the water, cover the pot and cook for 45 minutes or until tender.
  • Once tako is cooked, remove it from the pot and let cool in the refrigerator.
  • To serve, heat grill to medium-high and char tako around 1-2 minutes per side.
  • In a bowl, add 1 Tbsp of the romesco and 1 tbsp olive oil and mix. Add the tako legs and toss to coat.
  • On a plate, add romesco, tako, and garnish with choice of microgreens, lime, and Kewpie mayonnaise.




Photography courtesy of Soni Pomaski
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Author: Chef Mark Pomaski of Moon & Turtle, Hilo Hawai‘i


  • High Power Blender
  • Pressure Cooker
  • Grill Pan or Grill


  • 1 Large ( 3-4 lbs. ) Octopus Cleaned
  • 5 Cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tea Bag Black, Green, or Oolong
  • 3-4 Large Ripe Tomatoes Cut Into Bit Sized Pieces
  • 1 Medium Sweet Onion Thinly Sliced
  • 2-3 Stalks of Scallion Green Parts Only - Julienned and Rinsed in Cold Water
  • 1 Bunch Watercress Washed, Drained, and Cut into ¾ Inch Pieces.


  • 12 Large Cloves of Garlic
  • 1.5 oz. Fish Sauce
  • 2 oz. Rice Vinegar
  • 2 oz. Lemon Juice


  • Place all dressing ingredients into a high-power blender and puree until garlic is completely broken down. Unused dressing will keep one week.
  • Place octopus, garlic, bay leaves, and tea bag in a pressure cooker and cover with salted water (use ¼ cup salt per ½ gallon water, or less to taste).
  • Bring to full pressure, cook for 15 minutes, and use the quick-release method to relieve pressure. Allow octopus to cool to room temperature in its cooking liquid, strain, and chill. (Reserve cooking liquid for use in another recipe, such as a seafood soup.)
  • Once chilled, divide into 4 sections by separating the head and tentacles and cutting each piece in half.
  • Toss lightly with vegetable oil and grill over high heat until warmed through and slightly charred.
  • Slice into bite-sized pieces and place into a large mixing bowl along with tomato and sweet onion.
  • Gently toss with a liberal amount of dressing and plate onto a bed of watercress. Garnish with scallions.

This Story Has Legs: Kanaloa Octopus Farm


Tucked away at the far end of Natural Energy Lab of Hawai‘i Authority (NELHA) in Kailua-Kona, Kanaloa Octopus Farm is making quite a splash with visitors who book tours of the unique aquaculture attraction.

Continuously fed by deep-cold seawater pumped offshore of Keahole Point, the farm’s big blue tubs provide living quarters for adult octopuses harvested live from the wild for the captive-breeding project.

Marine biologist Jacob Conroy, who launched the re-search-and-development venture at the end of 2015, seeks to successfully raise octopus in an aquaculture setting. His ultimate goal: to become a production facility that can provide restaurants with a sustainable option for locally sourced octopus. It’s a feat that has eluded other research-ers through the years, however, due to the unique breeding challenges of the species.

“This research is in its infancy and the methods haven’t really been figured out,” said Jacob, CEO and president of Kanaloa Octopus Farm. “I got into the field in the first place to provide a pragmatic solution to overfishing, which is less of a problem in Hawai‘i, but more of a problem in Asia, the Mediterranean, and especially the Philippines. I tell people never to buy octopus that comes from the Phil-ippines because of their overfishing practices.”

Rather than jump through hoops for federal grant money, Jacob keeps his octopus business afloat with tourism. Working an average of 12 hours a day at the farm, he finds time to fit in two tours per day to help cover his expenses. The idea for hosting tours came about organically after a visitor posted about the farm on TripAdvisor.

The current facility includes a small, 500-square-foot wet lab with an open-air shack. Now that he’s successfully kept animals alive in tanks where they’ve mated and produced eggs, Jacob will soon be moving into a larger facility to-taling 4,000 square feet directly across the way. The new facility will accommodate 30 tanks, 100 animals and hope-fully two to three hatchings per month.

Round two of the research will involve successfully rearing larva to the juvenile stage. It takes 30 days for a larva to become a baby octopus, he said:

“We’ve had about seven hatches so far, which is good considering how few animals we have. Each hatch is a quarter-million larva each. In the wild, we don’t really know how many larva become adults, but survival out in the ocean is probably one percent. Babies live in a differ-ent part of the ocean than adults. They feed on plankton, unlike the adults that feed on reef animals. The core of our research is to recreate the ocean environment and food sources crucial for survival of the larva.”

Known as the “day octopus,” the species that frequents Hawaiian waters has a lifespan of only a year and a half. Cold-water species in the Pacific Northwest live for about three years. Jacob plans to conduct research on six or seven species eventually, but for now his focus is on the day octopus.

How long will it take before his farm begins supplying restaurants with octopus? “It could be a pie-in-the-sky dream, it could take 20 years or it could be just around the corner,” said Jacob.




Chef Jojo Vasquez


Chef Jojo Vasquez Jojo Vasquez is pure presence. When you talk story with him you can feel the gentle weight of his full attention; his mind isn’t skimming through other thoughts or jumping ahead to whatever he has to do in the kitchen. He’s right there in the moment, listening intently and answering with a steady eloquence that’s as authentic as it is measured. This trait is so prominent that it should come as no surprise to find the same quality at work in his food. His dishes are deliberate, methodical, each ingredient like a carefully chosen word.

Jojo’s early food memories are tied to his father. Although Mr. Vasquez made his living creating anatomical illustrations for scientific and medical communities, he ran a bustling Filipino catering business on the side. As a child, Jojo was frequently called upon to assist his father in the kitchen, and he grew to associate cooking with joyous occasions of all kinds.

After high school, Jojo decided to study physical therapy. He did very well in this subject (as one might expect of an anatomical illustrator’s son), memorizing muscles and body parts with ease, and he was asked to become a teacher’s assistant. One night, while cooking dinner for some tutees, they commented: “You’re really good at this physical therapy stuff, but you seem bored with it.” Food, on the other hand, seemed to ignite him with enthusiasm. Soon thereafter, Jojo left the physical therapy program and entered culinary school, taking his methodical creativity with him and embarking on a career path that would prove to be hugely successful.

From Chicago to Atlanta to LA to Hawaii, Jojo has worked side by side with some excellent chefs (perhaps most notably celebrity Iron-Chef Morimoto) and has gone on to serve as an Executive Chef himself. In his current post as Executive Chef at The Plantation House in Kapalua, Maui Chef Jojo continues to create thoughtful, delicious meals featuring Maui ingredients. Each dish is built with intention. He starts by identifying the heart of the dish and then adds supporting elements to elevate the dish to a point of perfect balance. We are honored to have him share three springtime recipes with us.