Category: Cooking Fresh

A Kōloa Rum Dinner


On a perfect Sunday afternoon we gathered several of Hawaii’s most thoughtful chefs and one talented cocktail chef, Matthew Biancaniello, to feed a group of Kauaʻi’s business leaders. The mission was to showcase 100% locally sourced food and drink on Kauaʻi while maintaining an emphasis on zero waste.

The dinner, held at the breathtaking McBryde Garden on Kauaʻi’s south shore, sought to honor Kōloa Rum and their efforts to support the Kauaʻi community. We encouraged the chefs to create courses that would pair with specially crafted cocktails featuring Kōloa Rum. For recipes and more stunning photos of the event please visit our website at

Matthew Biancaniello, Cocktail Chef

Pupu by Executive Chef Lee Anne Wong, Koko Head Café, Honolulu, O’ahu

Pai’iai Sui Gok – Island Pork, Lilikoi with Kōloa Rum and Pepper Sauce.

Vegetable Poke – Coconut, Finger Lime and Inamona with assorted Fresh Vegetables.

E Komo Mai Cocktail by Matthew Biancaniello – Sea Moss infused Kōloa White Rum, Cucumber, Tarragon, Lime, Agave and Lilikoi

Salad Course by Executive Chef Michael Young, Sheraton Kauai

Kailani Farms Arugula and Kunana Dairy Goat Cheese with Roasted Beets, Pear Tomato, Mango, Papaya, Koōloa Rum soaked, grilled & chilled Pineapple with Macadamia Nut & Tahitian Lime Dressing topped with North Shore Poi Mochi Croutons and Chicken Chicharron.

Cocktail by Matthew Biancaniello – Rosemary infused Kōloa Gold Rum Aperol, Tangerine, Beet Juice, Lime, Agave and Ghost Pepper Salt garnish with fried ‘Ulu with Poppy Seeds.

Bob Gunter, President and CEO of Koloa Rum



Beef Rib with Allspice Berries, Smoke, Chocolate, Fruit and Chili.

Confit of Uala – Turnip, Beet and Preserved Limequat

Cocktail by Matthew Biancaniello- Bay Leaf infused Kōloa Gold Rum with Macadamia Nut Milk, Jackfruit, Parsley, Liquid Aminos, Lime, Agave with Multi Citrus air on top.





Cocktail by Matthew Biancaniello – Candy Cap infused Kōloa Dark Rum, Coconut Milk, Egg and Honey.

Cocktail by Matthew Biancaniello – Kōloa Coffee Rum, Lime, Agave, Mango and Balsamic.





Entrée Cocktail by Matthew Biancaniello- Bay Leaf infused Kōloa Gold Rum with Macadamia Nut Milk,
Jackfruit, Parsley, Liquid Aminos, Lime, Agave with Multi Citrus air on top.

Autumn Equinox


Recipe by Joseph Arakawa, Bar Manager.
Photography by Ben Decastro.
Course: Drinks
Author: Joseph Arakawa


  • Shaker


  • oz. Rosemary infused Pau Oaked Vodka
  • ½ oz. Campari
  • ¾ oz. Meletti Amaro
  • 1 Large Egg White
  • ½ oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ¼ oz. Rock Candy Syrup


  • To infuse Pau Oaked Vodka -place one bunch of fresh rosemary in vodka overnight.
  • Add all ingredients to a shaker and dry shake for 30 seconds.
  • Add ice and shake vigorously. 
  • Double strain into a tall glass.
  • Serve with a fresh spring of rosemary.

Walk in the Forest



Recipe by Joseph Arakawa, Bar Manager.
Photography by Ben Decastro.
Course: Drinks
Author: Joseph Arakawa


  • Stirring Beaker


  • oz. Ophir Gin
  • ½ oz. Orgeat
  • ¼ oz. Fernet
  • ¼ oz. Carpano Antica
  • 2 Dashes of Chocolate Bitters


  • Add ice and all ingredients to a stirring beaker.
  • Strain over a large ice cube.
  • Garnish with orange zest, rose, and two lime zest.

Kabocha Brown Butter Almondine



Recipe by Executive Chef Robert Paik.
Photography by Ben Decastro.
Course: Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Author: Chef Robert Paik


  • Foil
  • Baking Sheet
  • Knife
  • Sauté Pan



  • ½ Kabocha Squash
  • 1 Tbs. Vegetable Oil
  • Salt (To Taste)

Brussel Sprouts

  • 2 lbs. Brussel Sprouts (Leaves Separated)
  • 1 Tbs. Duck Fat
  • 2 Tbs. Salt


  • 1 Tbs. Butter
  • 1 Tbs. Sliced Almonds
  • Salt (To Taste)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (To Taste)


Prepare Kabocha.

  • Remove seeds and membrane and rub kabocha with oil; sprinkle generously with salt.
  • Wrap in foil and roast at 350° for 45 minutes on a baking sheet.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature wrapped in foil.
  • Dice the kabocha into half-inch cubes and reserve for use later.

Prepare Brussel Sprouts.

  • Bring duck fat to smoking in a pan, drop in Brussels sprout leaves and allow to sit.
  • Toss gently and allow to caramelize and color evenly.
  • Salt to season and drain on a paper towel.

Prepare Almondine.

  • Melt butter evenly, then allow to begin browning.
  • Add almonds and allow to begin to color.
  • Add kabocha and sauté in brown butter and almonds.
  • Season and sauté until kabocha is heated through. 

Plate and Serve.

  • Garnish almondine and kabocha with duck fat-caramelized Brussels sprout leaves.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Herb-Roasted Chicken with Parsnip Yukon Gold Mash



Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Robert from Avenue's Bar & Eatery.
Photography by Ben Decastro.
Course: Main Course
Author: Chef Robert


  • Peeler
  • Small Saucepan
  • Ricer
  • Shallow Sheet Pan With A Roasting Rack


Parsnip Yukon Gold Mash

  • 1 Medium Parsnip
  • 2 Medium-Sized Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 2 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ Cup Milk
  • ¼ Cup Heavy Cream
  • Salt (As Needed)
  • White Pepper (As Needed)


  • 1 Chicken Leg (Quarter)
  • ¼ tsp. Dried Thyme
  • ¼ tsp. Dried Rosemary
  • Oil (As Needed)
  • Salt (As Needed)
  • Sprig Fresh Rosemary
  • 2 Sprig Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • ½ Cup Chicken Stock


Prepare Parsnip Yukon Gold Mash.

  • Peel parsnip and potatoes and place in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and season water; cook until potatoes and parsnips are tender.
  • Scald milk and heavy cream with butter. Working with a ricer, process both the potatoes and the parsnip. Slowly stir in milk mixture until it is tender and drops easily from a spoon.

Prepare Chicken.

  • Brine chicken leg if desired then pat dry.
  • Rub outside of chicken with oil and coat with dried herbs, then season with salt. 
  • Place in a shallow sheet pan with a roasting rack and roast at 450° for 25 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Drain excess oil from sheet pan and place sheet pan back in the oven for 5 minutes with fresh rosemary, thyme, and a bay leaf.
  • When hot, pour in ½ C. chicken stock and deglaze.
  • Pour deglazing liquid into a small saucepan and heat to reduce. When thickened, add a little butter and swirl to emulsify. 
  • Season sauce to taste and use over chicken.

Kevin Hanney Avenue’s Bar & Eatery



When you see how successful Kevin Hanney’s 12th Avenue Grill and Avenueʻs Bar & Eatery have become, you’d never know that owning a restaurant was always Plan B for him.

Like many in the industry, he had a typical introduction to the restaurant industry. He started in his hometown of Rochester, NY as a dishwasher at 15 years old, then became a busboy because “that’s where the money was.” He eventually moved up to being a waiter for about seven years.

He headed to college in upstate New York to get a degree in Natural Resource Conservation, and in 1978 got a job in the kitchen at Wild Wind Farms, an organic showcase farm with a good, seasonal restaurant (It was about the same time that Alice Waters was developing Chez Panisse.).

The restaurant work was just to get him through school; Hanney was focused on a career in natural energy. After graduation, he moved to California to get a degree in Renewable Energy and Solar Architecture from San Jose State University.

The ‘80s food movement in California helped shape Hanney’s food philosophy and style. He liked cooking and what he had learned, so decided to keep at it.

He was invited to teach a community cooking class at Kapi‘olani Community College and fell in love with Hawai‘i, so went home to Santa Cruz, packed his bags and moved. He figured he would be here for a couple of years and would “keep moving east until it turned west,” but he stayed and married local girl Denise Luke.

He had a successful catering business in Honolulu and was looking for a place that was appropriate and affordable for his vision (which he’s still seeking). He found a hidden spot in Kaimukī but it didn’t work for catering, so he decided to create a cozy neighborhood bistro like the kind he loved in San Francisco. Twelve years later, 12th Avenue Grill has expanded to a larger space, with an offshoot, Avenueʻs Bar & Eatery.

Like its older brother, Avenue’s Bar & Eatery offers items that are made from scratch and locally sourced whenever possible. The menu reflects popular items and requests from 12th Avenue Grill’s bar, thus they have more little plates. The menu specials change more often, as well, as they offer dishes that showcase ingredients of each season.

The guys running his show at Avenues are young but ambitious, and have had some decent experience. Bar Manager Joseph Arakawa, who is a sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve, was previously at Mud Hen Water; Chef Robert Paik is a graduate of the Kapi‘ olani Community College culinary program and was previously at Vintage Cave. Their food and drinks reflect Hanney’s approach to fine dining.

“After arriving in Hawai‘i 24 years ago, I noticed that restaurants for the most part fell into two categories: Very high-end, continental- style restaurants or extremely casual ethnic restaurants. I decided I wanted to bring great food and drink that’s approachable to everyone at an affordable price, yet make everyone feel like they had a great experience,” Hanney says.

Left to Right: Executive Chef Robert Paik, Joseph Arakawa, Bar Manager and Chef/Owner Kevin Hanney.


Herb-Roasted Chicken with Parsnip Yukon Gold Mash

Kabocha Brown Butter Almondine

Walk in the Forest

Autumn Equinox

Mama Le



A huge pot sits in the upstairs kitchen at The Pig and the Lady, dwarfing the cook beside it. Loan Le, a.k.a. Mama Le, is the diminutive grand dame behind her son Andrew’s wildly successful culinary popup-turned-juggernaut. “Put in the bones for me, please,” Le says, pointing at a 10-pound bag of pork bones. Chicken bones will follow, then a large cheesecloth bundle of charred onions, salted radishes and dried roasted squid. By late afternoon the pot will yield the rich, fragrant broth for Le’s hu tieu My Tho, a southern Vietnamese noodle soup layered with slices of pork loin, Kahuku shrimp and crab fat tomato sauce. Because of its complexity Le rarely makes it; when she does, for the Pig’s farmers’ market booth, it sells out.

Cooking came to Le as a passion and an afterthought, much as it did for her son. The difference was that for Mama Le, the world of food was framed in war. The thirteenth of 15 children, she was a child when Ho Chi Minh’s victory over the colonial French forced her family from their native Hanoi. In Saigon she met Raymond Le, whose family had fled Hue during the Tet Offensive. “Only when I married did I have to cook,” she says. “My husband is picky—he likes to eat out, so I had to learn how to cook like in a restaurant. I learned the three cuisines of my country: central from my mother-in-law, northern from my mother and sisters, southern from my husband taking me out to eat.”

As South Vietnam fell, the Les boarded a refugee flight to the States. They were pulled off at Hickam Air Force Base when a heavily pregnant Loan Le went into labor. Their first child, Anderson, was born the next day. Then came Alex, Andrew and Allison, and Le’s pots of noodle soup got bigger. After shifts at the family’s growing business, Toys ‘n Joys, she cooked from memory and from a bible of 100 northern, central and Southern recipes amassed by her older sister: savory northern-style pho; bun cha vermicelli noodles dipped in a tart-sweet broth studded with green mango and grilled pork meatballs; spicy bun bo hue, its ropey rice noodles twined with stewed pork, beef and banana blossoms. Her kids loved her food, she says, because she loved to cook it.

Cooking Fresh Family Photo Capture: L to R: Lawrence, Andrew, Mama Le, Alex. Addition-al photo: Allison

Acr14661991393280-2547728It’s not really surprising that Andrew, raised on the heady flavors of his mother’s kitchen, switched from design studies to culinary school. When he left Chef Mavro and struck out on his own, his early pop-ups progressing to farmers’ markets and then to a packed Chinatown restaurant and a new one opening at Ward Centre, he kept his mother’s flavors at the center of an eclectic menu. Every popup featured a Vietnamese noodle soup cooked by Loan Le as the fourth course. The Pig’s farmers’ market menus were centered around these noodle soups, with virtually the entire family coming together around them as they had in their home kitchen: Andrew at the pot, Alex running the operation, Allison or Andrew’s wife Teri taking orders, Raymond serving up Vietnamese iced coffee and Loan watching over them all.

Today she still oversees the farmers’ market soups, working six days a week surrounded by her children. Now, standing at her pot in the Pig’s upstairs kitchen, Le gets a call from downstairs. Andrew needs help perfecting her southern-style broken rice. “Andrew always says the flavors have to be right,” she says. “He says they have to be the flavors of his family.” And she hurries downstairs.

Chef Jay Johnson

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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.


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

Kojima Legacy



Kapaʽa was said to have lost a piece of its history when it closed its doors to the century-old Kojima Store; after five generations of family operations. A Kauaʽi landmark, the Kojima Store began as a family business first in Wailua, then moved to Waipouli and finally settled in its current location on Kuhio Highway in Kapa’a. The store back then was a 1-stop-shop selling clothes, hardware, feed and even grave monuments. Known for it’s convenient location, family focus, affordable prices and local food such as, grass fed beef and it’s famous Korean style short ribs the store endured until it shuttered in June 2014.

Since the June hiatus, Glenn Kojima, son of Henry Kojima, one of seven children of the original owners, Eiji and Okono Kojima was introduced to a new business named Hanai which would continue a business in this building that supported the local community and families but with a renewed focus was a generational gift. Hanai has had previous success across Kauai in the  community highlighting locally sourced food and drink with their ever-popular events.

Hanai is a natural fit for bringing a pulse back into the lifeless building.  The foundation was in place for new owners, Chef Adam Watten and Creation Director Collin Darrell, to continue what was the heartbeat of a small community but with new offerings. Hanai, which in Hawaiian means to adopt, take in, nourish, sustain and to be close. Their intent is to feed and educate the community through a farmers’ market, cooking classes and prepare food in a restaurant that is focused on locally foraged, delicious food.

Originally from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and formally trained at The New England Culinary Institute, chef Adam Watten continued training at some of the country’s top restaurants in Washington D.C. and Portland Oregon before arriving on Kauai in 2009 to open Red Salt at Poipu’s Koa Kea Hotel. “What the Hanai space previously meant to the people and to the generations before needs to be kept in this community,” remarks the chef, “with both the restaurant and the weekly farmers’ markets we have planned for the spot, the concept plans to give farmers and producers another venue for their goods selling directly, becoming a part of the menu and having the opportunity to rent kitchen space.”

With a vision to create a place of integrity extending through ingredients, education and support of the community, the Hanai menu is sourced 100% from Hawaiʽi with a focus on Kauaʽi. Execution is inspired by mentors, experiences and a palatable sense of the “present.”

“I love to nourish people,” responds chef Watten when asked why he does what he does, “I like to make people happy with my hands and to be playful; it’s a great creative outlet, and it’s a lot of fun. My style has evolved throughout the years, coming from a traditional, formal cooking background that was very regimented to eventually wanting to just showcase each individual ingredient and the best possible way to enjoy it. A lot of my technique has become about ‘how to make it work.’ I like to cook simply, yet properly.

“As in the old days, from land and sea, (chef) gathers what is fresh and available, and with a devotion to excellence, plans the daily menu of edible masterpieces!” says Glenn Kojima, “He sources local farmers and fishermen and oftentimes does his own gathering. Traditional and time tested  techniques, (curing, smoking and fermenting)  are also used to create, flavor and preserve ingredients.”

“The ability to produce here is unmatched,” says Watten, in comparison to his culinary training grounds, “growing season is all year. The variety and abundance of crops, fish, cattle operations- it’s all here. The potential to develop a cuisine inherently of this place is something I feel really strongly about. The beef dish below emphasizes reestablishment of a local source (with Wailua ranchers Sanchez family farms) and a market concept; exemplifying how we base our menu off of what is available right now, creating different lines of value added product, eliminating waste and speaking to the very traditional attitude of this community.”

With this approach, Hanai aims to inherently become different, and therefore more attractive to their present day consumer. Menus are healthy, made from scratch (no flour, no cooking oil, fats rendered from animal or vegetable or extracted coconut or avocado oil), local (with no flour or wheat in the state, expect plenty experimenting with alternatives like kiawe flour) and speaks to the island the ‘way it is right now.’

A refreshing, present approach.


Filet of Beef

Mango Kulolo Terrine

It’s All About Creating Synergy

Written by Fern Gavelek
Photographed by Anna Pacheco

Chef Stephen Rouelle talks the talk and walks the walk in the kitchen. The chef demonstrates his personal values and nutritional knowledge—learned through personal experience—via menu selections and best practices at two Hawai‘i Island eateries. They are Under the Bodhi Tree at The Shops at Mauna Lani on the Kohala Coast and Making the Cut Café inside Pacific Island Fitness in Kailua-Kona.

Chef’s culinary focus wasn’t always driven by personal choices. Born in Montpelier, Vermont, he learned the traditional tenets of food preparation at both Central Vermont Vocational School and Johnson & Wales University. His 30-year culinary career included stints inside his native state and also Ohio, Hawai‘i and international locales.

“I spent 20 years working at various hotels and feel like I had success,” shares Stephen. “However, I wasn’t personally eating healthy and I was living my life in silos.”

Elaborating on what that means, chef explains his personal values and relationships with food were contained separately—“they didn’t meet.” He says choice of menu items and diet didn’t always “line up” to his beliefs about the environment and the humane treatment of animals.

”I feel my life and work are now one and I have more synergy.”

The need to lose weight prompted Stephen to change his eating habits. He started on a vegetable-based diet of lean protein and eventually converted to a “primarily raw vegan diet” after finding nutrient-rich, raw food is generally low in calories and contains beneficial living enzymes.

Chef says he’s now living his beliefs regarding food. Under The Bodhi Tree offers vegetarian, vegan (zero animal products) and raw food. Choice of ingredients is also driven by local availability and the restaurant is the state’s only eatery awarded a Hawai‘ i Dept. of Agriculture Seal of Quality, designating it uses genuine, Hawai‘i-grown or -made premium products.

The challenge in marketing Bodhi’s specialized food is making it approachable to all prospective patrons, according to Rouelle, so menu items use names people relate to. For example, Reuben’s Garden Sandwich is “corned” tofu—prepared using a salt brine and pickling spice—melted swiss cheese, house-made sauerkraut, mushrooms and kale served on seeded rye. The Garden in a Grinder Gazpacho aptly describes the makings of this tasty cold soup. It has a healthy “slow glycemic load”—meaning the digestion of fiber slows down the body’s absorption of sugar.

At the newly opened Making the Cut, chef prepares “fitness food,” offering items lower in carbs and fat and higher in protein. “We cater to gym-goers and those on a paleo diet,” says Stephen.

Summing up his journey on fusing food and career with personal values, chef concludes, “I feel my life and work are now one and I have more synergy.”