Category: Keiki in the Kitchen

Dinner Roles In The Kenoi Household

Story by Fern Gavelek

Photos by Kirk Shorte

Food fosters togetherness in the Kenoi household

Sitting down at the table and enjoying dinner together as a family is a priority for Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi.

“Dinner is the one time a day we all have together,” states the second-term mayor and Big Island native.

Leading full and busy lives, Mayor Billy and wife Takako share the parenting of their three children: Liam, 16; Justin, 14 and Mahina, 12. A flight attendant, Takako travels three days each week and in her absence, Mayor Billy takes over. Fatherly duties include transporting keiki to their activities and supervising dinner preparation.

“Over time, we have developed roles in making meals,” Mayor Billy says. “Takako likes to cook, so she takes over when she’s home. When it’s me and the kids in the kitchen, we work together.”

Family food participation starts with shopping. Typically, after picking up the kids in the afternoon, Mayor Billy takes his brood to the grocer’s or the Kea‘au Farmers Market to source ingredients—unless there’s something already in the works. When kalua pig is available in the freezer, made earlier in the family’s own imu (earthen oven), then one of the kids simply cooks cabbage.

There’s always hamburger in the freezer too to grab and defrost for the night’s meal. Other Kenoi meal-making “starters” are rice, poi and poke.

Justin’s favorite is Hamburger Helper and he readily takes charge of its preparation. “The kids love that; it doesn’t last long around here,” Billy says with a smile.

Another well-received family dish is “gravy burgers.” Prepared with hamburger, cream of mushroom soup, chopped onion, egg and bread crumbs, the recipe involves heating the soup, shaping and frying the patties, simmering the finished patties in the soup and then enjoying atop rice. It’s easy for kids to make.

“I make shoyu chicken, broiled pork chops and grilled salmon,” says Mayor Billy, adding that salmon and chicken are Liam’s favorites. “We always have a salad.”

Fresh fruit is readily available for all to grab, plus chocolate milk, juices, sports drinks and water. “I encourage the kids to hydrate,” notes Mayor Billy, who is an avid surfer and regular recent competitor in island triathlons.

“The kids can be picky; but they are pretty flexible and we have fun,” he concludes.

The Kenoi Family in

With Love, Fruit and Family Come Together

Photo & Story by Margy Love

Marmani Alspach is a typical ten year old girl in South Kona. She loves Monster High, animals, hula and Japanese animation. But frequent visits to the nearby home of Grandpa and Granny are anything but typical. There, instead of sitting at the table eating spam masubi, Manami is more likely to don chef hat and apron and assist in making products. Her grandparents, owners of Love Family Farms, make 150 products from lilikoi syrup to jackfruit marmalade that are sold at the weekly Keauhou Farmers Market and online at

Manami began honing her culinary skills when she was only three and had to stand on a chair to reach the counter.  She enjoyed helping out so much it has become a regular activity during her frequent visits. She even has a recipe / scrapbook  book made from photos of her endeavors.  Also she helps with pickling, making Waimea strawberry jam and a host of other exotic fruit jellies. Her favorite activity is making chocolate mint candies with grandpa for the holidays.

Her love of cooking was passed on to her by Grandpa, tropical fruit specialist and chef Ken Love. He began his own career at the young age of 4 when he made his mother a special breakfast of Crepes Suzette, complete with batter on the ceiling.  Since coming to Hawaii he has become immersed in the agriculture and culinary fields, having served as president of ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Assoc. and is currently Executive Director of Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers.

Manami also enjoys assisting Granny in baking gluten-free fruit loaves that are made weekly for sale at the market. Also, every Christmas Manami devotes an entire day in baking goodies that are passed out to friends at local banks, post offices and library as well as family and friends.

Whenever Manami craves a snack, she is in luck because Grandpa, is happy to share whatever exotic fruit is in season.

Photo & Story by Margy Love

Ed Kenney And The Kids Off To A Good Start

Sunday is a day many families look forward to for no work and all play. This holds true for Ed and Spanky Kenney and their keiki, Celia, 15, and Duke, 12. Theirs is a busy household and the kitchen is the hub of activity. Many would expect a huge, fancy kitchen with all the latest gadgets from award-winning chef Kenney, owner of Town restaurant in Kaimukï. Instead, it is small and close knit, just as the family itself.

Here’s the scene: 60’s rock ’n roll pumps in the background. Spanky relaxes and reads while Ed and the kids file in for breakfast duty. With just enough room to rub elbows, the kitchen comes to life with kid’s bright, enthusiastic energy. They shuffle between the fridge and prep counter.

Before heading out for a beach day, their tradition is to make waffles out of pa‘i‘ai, a concentrated form of poi (hand-pounded taro root). There is no real recipe to this causal, locally sourced dish. Simply refrigerate the pa‘i‘ai for several days, cut a 1″ slice and pop it in the waffle maker with a slice of butter. After a homemade breakfast together, they pile into the car and go.

The waffle recipe was conjured up by Duke and executed by Celia. With a little tweaking, it just may appear as a new menu item at Town. This morning the waffle was topped with banana, straw- berries, honey, and whipped cream, but it can be eaten plain, right out of the waffle maker too. Once it’s cooled it becomes firm, but retains that slight, sweet twang of fresh pa‘i‘ai. The kids also recommend using the waffle as a base for savory ingredients.

Cooking and sharing a meal has always been a focal point for this family. Spanky does most of the shopping and the kids participate in much of the cooking. Celia tends to stick to the recipe, while Duke’s love of food and cooking is more freestyle. He’s known to put together a meal with whatever is on hand in the fridge or garden. A few years back that spontaneity lead Duke to enter a cooking contest after overhearing the five minute call for final en- tries. His creation, a slice of Big Island beef, some warm pa‘i‘ai and fresh tomato, placed first to everyone’s surprise!

Clearly, the real secret to their family cooking is a pure love of delicious, local food, cooked simply and to perfection.

Photo by Adrianna Torres Chong
Photo by Adrianna Torres Chong

Keiki in the Kitchen: After School Snack with Maui Mom Sarah Burns

Photo by Jana Morgan

“When I pick my kids up from school, they’re always hungry!” laughs Sarah Burns, professional blogger of The ‘Ohana Mama. “There’s usually an activity to rush off to, but a few days a week we go straight home and can make a proper snack.”

Making bagel pizzas are the standing favorite with her kids, Cameron, 9, and Leah, 6, mostly because they can do everything themselves (and the gooey cheese doesn’t hurt, either!) They love how hands on it is.

Cooking together is something the family is doing more of.

“Leah loves to be in the kitchen with me, helping to cut vegetables, stirring bowls, she loves to get her hand dirty,” says Sarah. “They’re my sous chefs.”

“My kids, like many kids, don’t really like vegetables. I find when the kids participate in preparing and cooking their own food it helps with making it a positive experience and they usually end up eating some vegetables.”

Sarah Burns started The ‘Ohana Mama ( in 2008 to focus on family life in the islands. Her “parenting dispatches from Maui” happen while scrambling to and from swimming, gymnastics, or simply shell hunting at the beach.

Sarah Burns - Keiki in the Kitchen

Keiki in the Kitchen: Working Parents Guy Hagi and Kim Gennaula Make Family Dinner

Photos and story by Ed Morita

Kim & Guy in the Kitchen

For working parents, making dinner can be the bane of the day. Conversely, it can be just the occasion needed to bring the family together to share some precious time. That’s how local TV personalities Guy Hagi and Kim Gennaula view it.

Though their schedules are hectic, they’ve got a good system down. “Monday through Friday I do the cooking,” explains Guy, who has a dinner breakin between anchoring the weather on Hawaii News Now KGMB9. Kim, now busy as philanthropy director for Kapiolani Health Foundation, helps prep then tends to the duty of getting the kids to their many after-school activities.

They experimented with theme nights: Meatloaf Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Whatever Wednesdays, Thursday Leftovers, and Friday Free-choice. “We just try to make it fun, something the kids can look forward to and have some input on.”

Kim & Guy Cooking FreshTaco night became a tradition, a meal where the kids can interact from start to finish. “They get to choose the ingredients when we’re at the market: chicken or beef, the vegetables; they get to feel for a good tomato, a ripe tomato.” Alia, 9, likes to make the guacamole and prep the fixings, while Luke, 11, likes to cook the meat.

“At this age, they just want to get involved in any way. Whatever duties we can assign to them, they’re more than willing to do: wash this, chop that, they have that curiosity. It’s not a chore, they want to help,” says Guy.

The kids’ involvement in food is evident: Alia jokes that caviar is her favorite food, while Luke’s vote is filet mignon. Both agree on Spam musubi as a close second.

“The challenge for me as a parent is to stop being so…Type-A,” he chuckles. “Slow down and let them get involved, even though it’ll be messier. It’s okay.”

Sometimes there’s a mishap. Then, it’s pizza night.