Chefs and restaurants from Waikoloa to Hawi, Waimea to Honoka`a have long taken advantage of this abundance.
One chef who intimately understands what the land provides is Jayson Kanekoa of Waikoloa Beach Marriott. Kanekoa was born and raised near Waipio Valley on the northeastern shore of the Big Island, and says his love of cooking Hawaiian-inspired foods and flavors comes from his grandfather, a taro farmer who made his own poi. “We use locally sourced ingredients as much as possible,” Kanekoa says. His sources include JA Farms in Waimea, from which he gets a variety of herbs. “It is a great feeling to be able to share the foods I grew up enjoying with resort guests from around the world.”
Chef Scott Lutey at Sansei Seafood, Steak & Sushi Bar in Queens’ MarketPlace is adamant about using local ingredients in as many of his dishes as possible. “There is no comparison to having local produce picked daily and delivered,” Lutey says. “The flavor and texture can’t be beat. We get to know the farmers so there is a personal connection; we tour the farms to see what they do. They are all very proud of what they produce. Tourists come here to try items from Hawai`i, so aside from great products, it’s a great selling point.”
Lutey cites Hirabara Farms as his source for greens; WOW Farms and Nakano Farms for tomatoes and cucumbers; Nakamoto Farms for his baby bok choy; and Adaptations for specialty items, herbs, fruits, greens, and micro garnish. Lava Lava Beach Club also uses a number of locally grown products on their “farm-to-beach” menu, including local greens in their salads, local tomatoes in the gazpacho, and fresh-as-can-be fish caught daily in the waters near Kona. “Whenever possible we work with locally sourced ingredients. Our island is home to some of the greatest produce, dairy, and of course, fish, Hawai`i and the Pacific have to offer,” says partner Scott Dodd.