WRITTEN BY SINEAD BYRNE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SEAN MICHAEL HOWER
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.
HAWAIIAN BLOODY MARY WITH KAUAI PRAWNS AND OCEAN VODKA MIST
STUFFED MAUI ONION RISOTTO
WARM SURFING GOAT DAIRY CHEVRE WITH MARINATED BEETS
Written and Photographed By Lily Diamond
Published By Atria Paperback
Maui-raised Lily Diamond understands the connection between emotion and sensual perception; her new work Kale & Caramel is more than just a cookbook, it’s a study in sense memory. An extension of her popular food blog, kaleandcaramel.com, the book is an ode to the herbs and flowers that have perfumed Diamond’s life since childhood. Categorized by plant, each recipe begins with the recounting of a unique memory tied to that dish, a tactic that lends real personality and readability to the book. The tone alternates between poetic, sassy, and narrative as Diamond presents memories of heartbreak, friendship, grief, and healing structured around the tastes and smells that defined them. Writing style aside, Diamond’s recipes are enviously unique without being complicated or pretentious. In fact, Kale & Caramel is full of so many quizzical yet immediately appealing flavor combinations it’s hard to decide which recipe to make first! And we’re not just talking food here; Diamond also includes several simple recipes for DIY beauty products with a focus on pure, clean ingredients. So whether you feel like branching out in the kitchen, sprucing up your medicine cabinet selection, or just reading something honest and invigorating, Kale & Caramel is the perfect cookbook to add to your collection this spring.
Vibrant Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Recipes Featuring Nature’s Most Versatile Ingredient
Written By Nathalie Fraise
Photography By Erin Scott
Published By 10 Speed Press Berkeley
Few foods are as iconic to Hawai’i as the coconut. Most island households are equipped with a machete and T-shaped coconut opener for tapping into this delicious fruit/ nut and accessing the refreshing water and tasty meat inside. But, while Hawai’i is no stranger to the coconut, few of us have explored it as extensively as Nathalie Fraise. In The Whole Coconut Cookbook Fraise shares her intimate knowledge of this multi-faceted plant and supplies recipe after recipe for the at-home cook looking to prepare meals that are as healthy and creative as they are delicious. Beginning with “A Guide To Coconut Ingredients,” Fraise walks us through the various incarnations of coconut (milk, oil, flakes, etc.) and teaches us how to make many of them right at home. She then uses these base ingredients in a series of recipes covering everything from breakfast to dessert, driving home her point that coconut can find a place in any meal, any time of day.
Written By Tamara Rigney
Photography by Mariko Reed
As contrived as this may sound, when I initially set to work on this particular review, I was overcome by the urge to go out into my backyard and forage for flowers instead. This was no mere bout of procrastination, but the book working its intended magic on me. The introduction gently commands readers, “Get outside. Pull inspiration from your surroundings. Keep your clippers handy.” ‘Ohi offers tips on how to find, arrange and preserve a plethora of plants alongside gorgeous photographic examples. O’ahu-based florist Tamara Rigney (founder of Paiko in Kaka’ako) teams up with photographer Mariko Reed to present an artist’s guide not only to the plants of the islands, but to the aesthetic of Hawai’i at large. The photographs in ‘Ohi are like poetry for the eyes; their striking simplicity draws attention to the natural beauty and form of some of Hawai’i’s most common plants, and encourages a new perspective for viewing our surroundings.
You are holding in your hands an example of political power – a local food & drink magazine. We are a quarterly publication, and the last time I had an opportunity to write my Letter of Aloha was in early winter before the full effects of our election had been felt. Now, a couple months later, reflection has made certain things clear.
We engage in our community in a way that most publications can’t imagine. We put on rubber boots and walk the land with farmers. We swing by the back door at restaurants, listen and talk story. We visit as many farmers’ markets as possible and then invite friends and neighbors into our own home kitchens for healthy, locally-sourced meals. My point is that, while we may feel upset and powerless in the face of the national political climate, moping negativity and divisive attitudes will get us nowhere. Now is the time to focus on our immediate surroundings, zero-in on our own communities, and unify. We need to dig in locally and support local business – it’s more important now than ever before. Act, do something positive, and bring your friends and family along.
This season marks the fifteen-year anniversary of the edible publication. It started as a way to connect a community through local food, and quickly grew to become a network of food-awareness that fed back into itself, strengthening and supporting the community as a whole throughout North America. We proudly share the story of edible’s birth through the words of Marion Nestle.
Ten years ago this summer we brought this same message to Hawaii when edible Hawaiian Islands was born. Each year we ask you, the community, to share with us who you feel our LOCAL HEROES are throughout the state. The votes are in and we are proud to highlight folks who embody the qualities we at edible hold dear and respect. So please, support their efforts, visit them and bring your friends. We are grateful for their hard work and commitment to our community.
In this issue we share stories about two crops you may not immediately associate with Hawaii: vanilla and cashews. We also introduce a new industry that we predict will change fine dining in Hawaii (so if you are a talented chef with a head for business your opportunity awaits!). PLUS we are excited to share our 4th annual Hawaii Farm Guide – save it and use it all year long.
Start supporting local by subscribing to edible Hawaiian Islands today. We would appreciate your support so we can continue bringing you the latest in what’s fresh and local to our community– hopefully for another ten years to come!
Dania Novack Katz
Publisher / Editor