Chef Mavro's BlogBlogging about food & wine
Acclaimed food writer Lesa Griffith posted bonus material on her blog from a conversation with Chef Mavro in his home kitchen as he prepared one of his favorite fish dishes. The original story appears in the current print issue of Modern Luxury Hawaii with a intriguing portrait of the Chef by Linny Morris shot at the Sumida watercress farm.
But here’s that extra stuff that didn’t fit!
Check page 64 of the July 2010 edition of Conde Nast Traveler for CNT’s Why we love Islanders. Chef Mavro is their pick on Oahu and one of only 10 in the world.
“Whether they wear it, serve it, or invite us to join in, islanders deliver a welcome that sea and land alone connot. And let’s not forget chefs. If islands seduce travclers, islands with great food turn us religious.”
Ten destinations/one restaurant in each: Oahu Chef Mavro restaurant (and on Maui Main Street Bistro in Wailuku. in Bali Dava at Ayana, Jimbaran, in Capri Da Tonino, in Vancouver Deep Cove Chalet, Sidney, in the Cyclades Katinas, Santorini, in Nantucket Topper’s etc.). We love the local and international company.
Aloha from all of us and here’s to the bounty of Summer!
More than ever our new Summer Menu is all about our local farmers, growers and fishermen. Our restaurant is not only about us but involves what I like to call our ‘ohana, family, which includes mostly the same people since 22 years ago when I first landed in Hawaii.
Today I would like to celebrate this ‘ohana and tell them how much their hard work and dedication is appreciated. Thanks David Sumida for delivering himself his watercress to our door. Kurt and Pam Hirabara in Kamuela for growing in such a consistent way a bounty of baby greens and herbs (when Kurt started farming on the Big Island 22 years ago, I was one of his first customers). Brooks Takenaka general manager of the fish auction for bringing from the close waters the most amazing quality of fresh fish. The Threlfalls who raise goats in Ahualoa for producing one of the best fresh goat cheeses I know. Jeanne Vanna our tomato queen. Hubyba for your variety of fine herbs and spices. The Stangas for providing Hamakua mushrooms to our seasonal menus. Jim and Tracy Reddekopp Hawaiian Vanilla – I bought the first Vanilla bean that they produced in 1998 and have enjoyed their production ever since. Joe Wilson for nursing the liveliest lobster in the world at Kona Cold. Karen Fukunaga for selecting for us the best and the most consistent local ingredients.
Also our more recent discoveries Frankie’s Nursery, Grant our fisherman from Molokai, Gary Forth-Maunakea and his amazing team at Ma’o Organic Farms, Jim from Kona Kea Shrimp, Wenhao for his sea asparagus, and all our friends who brought from their back yard to our door, lychee, mango, hearts of palm, avocado, soursop, betel leaves, pomelos, mountain apples, rambutan, mangosteen, calamansi, guava, green papaya…
And this is what our restaurant and our new Summer Menu is all about.
Sous Chef Andrew Le harvesting peppercorns at Frankie’s Nursery in Waimanalo
Our day-boat catch comes every morning either from the fish auction or from our Molokai fisherman; whichever has the most beautiful fish. In summer we get Uku (gray snapper) most of the time. It is the freshest, direct from the boat and I like it’s elegant texture.
Day-Boat Catch Bourride “Moderne”
This white fish is perfect for Bourride, a Provencal name for white bouillabaisse. I love this recipe from my home town Marseilles where we mix an equal quantity of fish broth and aïoli, add 1 egg yolk per person and cook the mixture like a sabayon. Then we cover the fish and garnish with it. Well this is delicious but too rich for my taste. So we found a modern way to do it.
Place 2 parts of hot broth, 1 part aïoli, and no additional egg yolk in a siphon canister; two cartridges of compressed air and we foam the Bourride “Moderne” on the top of the fish. Now it is very, very light and very, very tasty.
Out of the 5 wines we blind tasted with the Bourride “Moderne,” the Chablis from Domaine des Malandes was the best. It is sharp, lemony but still mineral with beeswax after taste that blends perfectly with our garlicky emulsion.
Fans of our Meli Melo of organic spring vegetables will be happy to hear that it stays on the menu and becomes the Meli Melo of organic Summer vegetables according to Gary’s selection of the best. Paired with the French chenin blanc Argilex from Vouvray. Of course this recipe will be gone in fall and we already know it will be missed. We never keep any recipe more than two seasons. Why? I need to make room for the creative energy of our kitchen team. If we would have even more variety of fresh local ingredients I would be able to change our menu every day. Our kitchen doesn’t stand on recipes but on cooking techniques and talents. I am very fortunate to work with some of the best cooks in the country.
Talking about creativity here are our new dishes:
photos: Justin Morizono
Fresh Kona Kea shrimp, dusted with Garam Masala, Hearts of Palm Remoulade, Chervil and Espelette: where France meets Hawaii. This is a total explosion of flavors made to be together. I insist on fresh because this is the only fresh sea water shrimp you can find in the Honolulu market. Most of the time shrimp are frozen even if you buy them direct from the boat. They are frozen on the boat as soon they are out of the water (or not and then they’re mushy – ugh).
To make sure you fully enjoy the freshness of this product we poach it very lightly in vegetable broth and flavor with garam masala. Every body in Hawaii would tell you “the best part of the shrimp is the head.” We didn’t discard the heads they are fried separately and served with the dish (Japanese style). Also on the plate; hearts of palm chervil remoulade with espelette accents (Basque country chili).
Our pairing committee picked up a Hungarian wine the citrusy, peachy flowery Tokaji Muscat Lunel from Grof Degenfeld.
Lamb might be our favorite meat to cook with. First our Colorado lamb is for sure one of the best in the world. Second, since Provence is a lamb country we know so many combinations of ingredients than we are able to provide you the best new lamb ever every time. Like love, always better than yesterday but not as good than tomorrow.
This one is a killer! We use always the loin, by far my favorite cut. The loin is roasted in low heat and served with a “pissaladiére.” What the hell is a pissaladiére? If you insist I am going to tell you. This is a specialty from Nice (Côte d’ Azur), a tart of caramelized fennel and onion, house-made lamb bacon, finished with anchovy and garlic chips. The lamb jus is perfumed with black olive powder and essence of parsley.
All the Mediterranean flavors on your plate at once and the wine is from Napa Valley? Yes! The “not-too-big-not-oakey-not-big-tannins” cabernet sauvignon from Chateau Montelena. When I first came to the States in 1985 I attended a wine tasting with Jordan and Chateau Montelena. I am not kidding but at this time fresh from France I didn’t know that America was producing wines you can drink. Wow! I was blown away, in 1985 the fine wine industry was very young in the country and that these two wineries were able to produce wines of this quality was a big surprise. I told myself, in France we have been making wines since 2,000 years ago! Welcome to America where nothing is impossible.
(click on older posts to see the last section (dessert) of Chef Mavro’s letter)
Pastry Chef Perry Ho’s Summer Treat
Our Pastry Chef Wai Kit “Perry” Ho is from Hong Kong but is not new in Hawaii and very comfortable with local flavors. His new summer dessert is a perfect illustration. Big Island Lychee, Soursop Puree, Rice Pudding in Hawaiian Honey Crisp, Pomegranate Tapioca Pearls. I love the combination of lychee and sousop enhanced with Hawaiian vanilla. Also his idea of serving a lychee sorbet with pomegranate tapioca pearls is brilliant. The wine a Muscat de Beaume-de-Venise from Provence has natural aromas of honey and caramel which complement beautifully the dish.
In addition to Perry I would like to thank our chef de cuisine Kevin Chong and our sous chef Andrew Le for their outstanding job in the kitchen. And many thanks to our sommelier Todd Ashline who pre-selects the wines for the pairing committee (please check his wine column in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Wednesday, June 23).
Also explore the complete Summer Menu on the Menu page of this site.
To Feasts & Friends! See you soon.
I love talking to watercress at Sumida’s
If Dad is a true foodie, like Olivia D, he’ll appreciate a 6-course meal at Chef Mavro and “the fanatic attention to detail that the Chef has poured into the preparation of all his dishes.” A well-deserved treat for Daddy dearest! (from today’s email from The Weekly Yelp)
Chef Mavro celebrates early Father’s Day dinners (3 courses $69, 4 courses $78, 6 courses $120) on Friday and Saturday (closed Sundays). Honolulu’s place for special occasions.
excerpts from “The Boys are Back in Town” by Martha Cheng, Honolulu Magazine June 2010
“When we [Chong and a handful of other Hawaii cooks], all left Hawaii we were all saying we don’t want to do this Pacific Rim stuff,” Chong says. “That’s why we went abroad, to learn other things.” In his time away, he worked his way from “the bottom of the bottom”—cooking for the chef’s dog at Le Cirque in New York—to opening a Le Cirque in Mexico at age 26 and supervising a brigade of 60 cooks.
As soon as he got married, he returned to Hawaii, and for the past five years, he’s been Chef Mavro’s chef de cuisine, bringing global flavors to Hawaii Regional Cuisine. These days, he says “some dishes may have Moroccan, some Indian, some maybe Vietnamese, Korean or French.” Is it Pacific Rim? An escabeche of abalone with Manchego cheese croquette, serrano ham and sundried tomato sauce, inspired by time spent in Spain, is not. The betel-nut kurobuta pork loin with green papaya salad and lemongrass pork jus, with its Vietnamese flavorings, is. For Chong, now 33, experience, a Vietnamese sous chef and Chinese pastry chef have tempered his disdain for Asian fusion. “I love Pacific Rim,” he now says. “It’s just how you interpret Pacific Rim.”
Do all paths in Hawaii lead to Asian fusion? Will all chefs succumb to the tyranny of Pacific Rim? Sure, it’s delicious, but isn’t a little variety good? Even Chong concedes that he might wish for a “real Italian trattoria” in Honolulu, perhaps of the sort his best friend Tony Liu, also a local boy, helms in New York, Morandi.
Chong says, “Cooks from Hawaii have a good reputation in New York. We work harder, we’re the first ones in, last ones out … We didn’t travel all that way to fail.”
“As soon as I got married I decided to resign and go back to Hawaii,” Chong says, “because Hawaii is more laid back, people are more laid back. In the restaurant business it’s not as chaotic and competitive as New York and other countries. I thought I would have a heart attack every day working in a big brigade, big kitchen, with 60 cooks. I’ve reached my goals and now it’s time to do what I want.” He finds his position at Mavro ideal: “I really touch the food and cook.”
The current menu at Mavro is mostly free of Asian flavors—instead, offering up Indian vadouvan, Basque espelette and Middle Eastern tahini in dishes that are still grounded in Hawaii via their use of local products.
Chong believes in a bright future for Hawaii chefs and cooks, particularly those who travel, work outside of the Islands, and return. He sees their Pacific Rim-educated palates as one of their greatest assets: “Cooks from Hawaii have the best palates because they know Japanese and Vietnamese cuisines, [which have] a balance of flavors: sweet, salty, sour, umami, bitter … [and] not just a balance in flavors, but in texture and temperature, cold, hot, crispy, soft.” This sort of food culture, coupled with work and travel to master classic techniques and taste new cuisines, gives Hawaii cooks a strong foundation. “They should come back and produce what they learn and mix things up,” Chong says. “When I ask some cooks from Hawaii on the Mainland: You ever plan on coming back to Hawaii’? It’s ‘No, there’s nothing there.’ What do you mean there’s nothing? If you want to do things differently, you do it.”
A new Private Event photo gallery page on our website makes it easy to see the many diverse private parties that have arranged for Chef Mavro and his team to cook for their events outside the restaurant.
How many: as few as 2 and as many as 1,000. Locations vary from private homes and unusual venues on Oahu, Lanai, Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai, to the Mainland U.S., and Japan. And on high-end cruise ships, golf courses, historic buildings, and practically anywhere. Special parties for up to 70 guests can be produced in the restaurant.