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.