Chef Mavro's BlogBlogging about food & wine
The following is a letter from a young culinary student who was selected to experience Chef Mavro’s complimentary 2-day Restaurant Reality program, given twice a year in collaboration with the Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation. Hawaii culinary students are selected to spend two days working side-by-side with Chef Mavro and his culinary team to experience the reality of a independently owned Five Diamond level kitchen. Also included in the two days are visits to Hawaii farms, food producers, the fish auction, to meet the people behind the products featured at Chef Mavro restaurant. The finale of each Restaurant Reality is the Grand Tasting dinner hosted by Chef Mavro for the students and their instructor.
In her own words:
“Resturant Reality Fantasy”
I’ve been skydiving, shark diving, climbed the stairway to heaven forwards, and in reverse, but I can truly say my experience with “Restaurant Reality” was the most exciting, inspiring, humbling experience of my life. To call it “Restaurant Reality” is slightly a far shot because we felt like we stepped into a magical world far from reality, into something greater than ourselves. Hawaii Culinary Education Federation, Kapi’olani Community College, and Chef Mavro’s restaurant have something amazing going on, enriching the lives of culinarians across the map. I feel so fortunate to be chosen by some of the best Chef instructors in the world to participate in this amazing experience. Exciting would be a basic word to describe the feeling of “how did I get so lucky to be here?!” that I had every hour spent with Chef Mavrothalassitis, and the bunch. Inspiring would be a simple concept to describe the feeling of a small tear being brought to your eye when you hear pure passion in Chef Mavro and his team’s voice. Humbling is an understatement, because after the best two days with the people apart of Restaurant Reality, all I wanted to do was run to the labs at school, run into work and implement all the things I learned.
We started our first day in the dining room at Chef Mavro’s. We got to learn about the amazing things the Hawaii Culinary Education Federation do. We talked to Chef Mavro about everything culinary, and he introduced us to his staff, which in just 10 minutes shined like stars. They were each very inspiring, and you could see why he chose them specifically, from a head Chef who was turned away by Chef Mavro many times until Chef knew he was completely ready for the task at hand, who showed perseverance for what you want will get you there in the best path possible, to a pastry chef who was called to work before he even himself knew he was ready, but turned out to be the best possible choice for a pastry chef, especially at 24 years old. We spent our first day under the roof of Chef Mavro’s restaurant, and by the second day we were able to see what makes the kitchen so successful. We saw mutual respect for all, from a hard working dish washer, to high expectations for the hostess. The kitchen staff truly trusted the small group of people working around them, and they moved like dancers in a great ballet, every movement had a reason, every step was thought out. With one person working per station, they owned their stations, something every kitchen needs. The staff was amazingly humble, including Chef Mavro, we were happy to learn so much from them in two days which felt like two weeks, but also two minutes.
The second day we experienced family owned, 3rd generation run, Sumida Watercress Farm. It was amazing to see the love that goes into one simple, amazing piece of vegetable. It was beautiful to see what the farmer, David Sumida had to do to keep his product amazing. We have a lot of respect for farmers like Mr.Sumida, and we see the shine in Chef Mavro’s eyes when he talks about the farm and the product as well. Next we went to the new location for the brain and heart of Honolulu Coffee Company. Our eyes were opened to another aspect of the culinary world, and the main focus for myself, was product, if you love your product, and you choose the best product, you will get amazing results, the coffee company gets those amazing results. We were led on the first tour by Director Jon Chadwick in the new building that hasn’t even finished its plan, but was gracious enough to let us get in their way and take up their time to show us something they are passionate about. He educated us about what makes their product the best: love for what they do, and only providing the best to their coffee plants, their employees and most importantly, their customers. We met Row Aczon, the director of coffee quality, he showed us what makes great coffee great, and happily made us the best cups of coffee we have ever had. Next we saw their bakeshop which provided us the best macaroon pairing with coffee that we have ever had, and saw their production kitchen, which was beautiful, seeing the care and passion Chef Curtis Horka has for his kitchen and the products they push out, was eye opening.
Following an Afternoon well spent, we went back to home base at the restaurant, were able to have another yet conversation that lasted hours with Chef Mavro and his crew. I felt that I learned what some people take years to realize, in two days just by talking to this astounding chef. We went back into his kitchen to see more of the care they take with their product and their instruments. Through this entire experience, Chef taught us what makes an amazing product the crème de la crème, and he always chooses the best products for his staff. I really appreciate the great habits and practices that hold strong under Chef Mavro’s roof. Finally, we were able to dine in, as guests, and we were offered everything on the menu. This was the best food experience I have ever had, the most humble I have ever felt, my senses were on fire, it was a very emotional meal. I want to thank all who were involved in making my experience everything great in the world. Kapi’olani Community College, for the chance to be even eligible to participate, and our chefs who chose Spencer and I, who saw something in us, especially Chef Alan Tsuchiyama, Chef Mavro’s wife for graciously accepting us into their culinary world as family, the Hawaii Culinary Federation for making every part of this amazing experience possible, Farmer David Sumida for showing us hard work and passion and what it takes to make the best ingredients, we as cooks should always cook with, to Honolulu Coffee for showing us what one amazing product can achieve, when you are truly passionate and proud of that product, to all the individuals that took time out of their busy schedule to help get us there, Chef David Brown for enhancing our experience by filling our minds with his own experiences, and opening his mind to allow us to see our experience through the eyes of a very qualified, experienced Chef, Hayley MatsonMathes for coordinating the entire event so beautifully, and well executed. Especially Chef Mavro, who I cannot begin to write about my respect for, for giving us the gift of insight, and education, as well as a meal that was full of hard work and passion, Chef Mavro’s restaurant staff for inviting us into their kitchen as if we were one of their own, giving us their knowledge and teaching us not just things, but ideas to live by,
Thank you all so much.
Pastry Chef Jose Calpito creates the famous desserts at Chef Mavro restaurant but so much more! Flavor combinations are a speciality and recently he’s added a touch of fresh herb to certain desserts.
Here is his Waialua chocolate bar, yuzu “guri guri,” chiboust & caramel, sesame crumbs, basil essence
His magic touches to the Chef Mavro dining experience include the complimentary sweets enjoyed by all guests at the end of dinner. These “mignardises” are changed frequently but could include tropical fruit pate, macarons, and chocolate truffles.
Chef Jose works quickly and precisely as he makes the restaurant’s signature French country bread.
Also Chef Jose Calpito makes crisps, wafers, croutons and all other small baked details that are important accents for the savory dishes. Here is the irresistible honey candy that tops the popular Big Island goat dairy cheese mousse, one-minute strawberry jam.
Chef Jose Calpito with Chef Mavro at this year’s Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. Always sharing a little joke and their love of cooking!
Chef Mavro restaurant selected as an OpenTable Diners’ Choice Local Pick for September. OpenTable recognition is determined by recent verified OpenTable diner reviews in Honolulu.
Only diners who have actually eaten in the restaurant receive an opportunity to post a review. Chef Mavro restaurant is also the OpenTable Diners’ Choice in the categories of:
Fit for foodies
Hawaii regional cuisine
Notable wine list
“Guests comment on our Hawaii style service and ambiance that make everyone comfortable. And of course we love to cook and it shows!” comments George Mavro, chef/owner.
Provence roasted niman ranch lamb loin, socca & basil ratatouille, sweet spiced lamb jus. A must-try on the current Summer Menu!
wine pairing: brunier, vieux telegraphe, 2012 chateauneuf du pape “la crau”
In Chef Mavro’s words:
“Our committee picked up unanimously the Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 Vieux Télégraphe as the wine pairing for our Lamb Provençale dish.
For me, this is not a surprise since in this part of Provence we know quite a bit about how to cook lamb.
The pairing is totally exceptional! And this shows again that wine and food from the same terroir are natural pairings. Le cul du berger sentira toujours le thym.
When you taste the Vieux Télégraphe with the lamb you can imagine the lambs eating the wild thyme and rosemary that grows between the vines. The winery is totally amazing with vines of grenache, mourvedre, syrah, cinsault…growing between the pebbles. There are so many pebbles than you cannot see the earth.
Local people there say under every stone is a drop of water. This part of Provence is very dry and you understand that people and vines are desperate for water.
Even if any Chateauneuf du Pape is potentially a good pairing with lamb, the Vieux Télégraphe is way above the others. This is centuries of wine making experience. The wine has high alcohol but perfectly balanced by its acidity. The acidity is a gift from the freezing temperatures every winter.
To me drinking this wine is a trip back to Provence in my mind and especially for my taste buds. I can see myself with my family in the Aix-en-Provence countryside. Dining on Sunday under the shadow of a huge fig tree, a plate of daube d’agneau (lamb stew) & a bottle of Vieux Télégraphe on the table. Who’s going to Provence this year?”
In Chef Mavro’s words about the new Summer Wagyu Beef dish:
When we decided to select our wagyu beef our Chef de Cuisine Jeremy Shigekane and I looked deeply into what was going on. We narrowed our investigations & came up with two wagyu available on the American market: the Australian Tajima grade 9+ and the Japanese Miyazaki A5.
Compared to the Tajima, and by far, the Japanese wagyu has more marbling & melts in your mouth, like foie gras. The Tajima although not as tender is more flavorful & Jeremy and I agreed that flavor is more important to us. Now you know everything about the beef…what about the new dish:
Barigoulo or barigoule is a classic summer dish from Provence. Artichokes are simmered with bacon, tomato, carrot, mushrooms, thyme & oregano. We add fava beans to make the dish even more summery. Then we deconstruct the recipe around the Tajima.
I have to say humbly, this is our best beef recipe ever!!! Forget all the beef we did before…The sauce, mahalo to Jeremy, is a beef jus accented with pickled mustard seeds.
We choose a wine as big as the dish, the Washington State Col Solare 2011 red mountain.
Reserve your table or call us (808) 944-4714
In Chef Mavro’s own words. An introduction to the new Summer Menu that starts Wednesday, July 15th Reserve your table
Summer is by far the season that reminds me the most of Provence. Suddenly I can almost hear the sounds of the cigales and I want to cook artichokes, fava beans, fresh peas, zucchini blossoms…here you go… zucchini blossoms. No wonder why this is my first summer menu appetizer!
zucchini blossoms tempura, maitake mushroom salsify salad, espelette, island tomato coulis
In Provence we have many ways to accommodate zucchini blossoms. We fill them, we fry them, we beignet them etc…my favorite way was always to beignet them in a beer batter, no eggs. I realize now that without the beer this looks very much like a tempura. So we decided to tempura them! This way we got the best way to preserve the delicate flavor & the airy consistency of this outstanding ingredient. Culinarywise, sometimes I feel like I have one foot in Provence & the other in Japan. In Hawaii the Asian influence in our dishes are not following a trend…this is just what is going on here & not only in your plate.
Zucchini blossoms reminds me of a story when I was cooking in Maui and visited a big zucchini and onion farm on the slopes of Kula. I asked the farmer to pick up just the blossoms for me, no zucchini. And I wanted only the male blossomsI He looked at me like if I had just turned mad & told me to go look for him somewhere else (this is a strange translation of “Va voir ailleurs si j’y suis!”).
But I never take no for answer and it took me almost one year to convince him (especially because I accepted to pay a fortune for my blossoms)…But it was worth every penny & this is how I started to feature zucchini blossoms on my menus in Hawaii…
Today, we place the zucchini blossom tempura on top of a fricassée of maitaki mushrooms, salsify shavings & an ice cold fresh tomato coulis flavored with espelette chili powder. This new appetizer is as fresh as the wine selected by our wine pairing committee:
Wine pairing for:
zucchini blossoms, tempura, maitake mushroom salsify salad, espelette, island tomato coulis
comte lafond, 2013 sancerre, loire
“not too sauvignony, refreshing, flinty stones and chalk.”
In this blog post Chef Mavro talks about his dish Hamachi LomiLomi now on the Summer Menu.
“The last thing you want to do is cook hamachi. This is why I decided to “confit” it instead and even to confit the hamachi half way. So it’s raw on the top and keeps all it’s beautiful texture and flavors. I use the hamachi as the center of the plate for a king salmon lomilomi. Of course the salmon is cured in-house and I massaged the original recipe to make sure that it paired perfectly with the hamachi.
How did I change the original lomilomi salmon recipe? By the addition of a combination of sesame oil, grape seed oil, jalapeño, and chives instead of green onion.
You are going to tell me…and what about the crunchy ice which is also part of this traditional recipe? It’s on top of the hamachi as a lemon shave ice!”
By popular demand, Chef Mavro’s signature dish will be on the menu through June 28. Offered on the 4-course menu but can be moved to the 6-course. Onaga Salt Crust earned a place on the GQ Magazine “Top 10 Recipes” and was featured in The New York Times.
“This dish turns steamed onaga into a dramatic magic trick” Mike Keany writes in Honolulu Magazine’s Biting Commentary. Complete story here.
Served tableside and not to be missed! Reservations.
A “Return from Alaska” seafood menu will be offered for 3 days only, June 18, 19 and 20, 2015
Chef Mavro returns from Alaska with a fresh catch of cold water seafood after a TV shoot for Ben Wong’s “Let’s Go Fishing” at El Capitan Lodge! Each Alaskan fish prepared in the best way just for you – for 3 days only.
June 18-20, 2015 Reserve your table online or call us (808) 944-4714
6-course seafood menu $119 wine pairings $75
spotted shrimp ceviche
dog point, 2012 sauvignon blanc, “section 94” marlborough
king salmon à l’unilatérale, greek salad “moderne”
domaine laroche, 2012 chablis premier cru “vau de vey,” france
poached with dried ponzu, english pea purée
moone-tsai, 2012 chardonnay, “charles heintz vineyard,” sonoma coast
bouillabaisse, aϊoli & croutons
tournesol, 2012 rosé, napa valley
big island goat dairy cheese mousse, one-minute strawberry jam
frankie’s nursery fresh green peppercorns, baby arugula
andis, 2012 cabernet franc, sierra foothills, california
lychee just freshly picked – lychee sorbet – lychee & hibiscus in gelée
coconut foam, coconut pastilles, white chocolate crèmeux
fennel accent, and hibiscus reduction
maculan, 2012 dindarello, veneto
Option: australian tajima wagyu experience
substitution for main course add 34.00
addition to course menus add 45.00
grade 9+ wagyu medallions, loco moco, sautéed pa’i’ai, poached quail egg
young carrot vichy “moderne” ginger & cumin, pinot noir essence
bergström, 2012 pinot noir, “silice,” chehalem mountains a.v.a. 39.00
wine by the glass
from the selection 21.00 (5oz)
from our premium selection 39.00 (5oz)
For Father’s Day 2015 Chef Mavro is the Top Choice Honolulu restaurant with wagyu beef, lobster, wine pairings and lots of irresistible choices on the Spring Menu. Reserve now for the best times (808) 944-4714 Gift certificates also available.
Surveys by The National Restaurant Association confirm that “consumers say the most important factor for choosing a restaurant for their special Father’s Day meal is dad’s favorite restaurant, regardless of specials (60 percent).”
Dad will be excited to learn that Chef Mavro’s signature dish “Onaga baked in a salt crust” is on the menu! Back by popular demand for just a few weeks starting June 3 and continuing through Father’s Day, this dish is not to be missed. The fish-shaped crust is opened table side revealing a perfectly cooked fillet of onaga on a bed of spinach. Plated and served with a sauce of tomato, ogo and fresh herbs as the delicious scent of tarragon and chervil wafts across the dining room!
Check out the current issue of Honolulu Magazine for a story on “Classic Dishes” that features Chef Mavro’s Onaga Salt Crust on page 25. Also on that page is Ethel’s Grill a Chef Mavro pick for a casual lunch to enjoy their classic dish ahi tataki! (just click on the scan to enlarge).
Chef Mavro restaurant offers the best Tasting Menu in Honolulu with the highest food rating in Hawaii 18/20, Gayot. In French restaurants it’s called a Grand Degustation menu defined in part as a “careful, appreciative tasting focusing on the senses, high culinary art and good company!”
Tasting Menus are a growing trend for culinary travelers who have only one night to experience a destination restaurant and for local residents celebrating an occasion. At Chef Mavro the tasting menu offers quarter portions of everything on the Spring Menu so it’s not too much. Wine pours are also appropriate for the tasting menu. Chef Mavro restaurant is unusual in that it’s OK if some guests order the Tasting Menu and others order the 4-course menu (95) or the 6-course (139).
Chef Mavro Tasting Menu 185
Wine Pairings with sommelier selections 125
foamed chilled potato leek soup, diced watercress kanten
meli-melo of spring upcountry vegetables
sumida farm watercress, tapenade vinaigrette
on sauce verte
tournesol, 2013 rose, napa valley
poached taylor farms shigoku oysters on baby leek salad
lemongrass kanten, sriracha trout roe, ogo mignonette
domaine laroche, 2012 chablis premier cru, vau de vey, france
seared hudson valley foie gras with island mango
foie gras mousse in brioche
royal tokaji, 2008 tokaji aszu, five puttonyos,hungary
steamed day-boat snapper chinatown style
shiitake mushrooms, ginger, sizzled grape seed & sesame oil
fried cilantro & green onion
joh. jos. prum, 2011, riesling kabinett wehlener sonnenuhr, mosel
roasted keahole lobster, island sweet corn & shiso fritter
charred poppy seed asparagus
crustacean espelette emulsion
moone-tsai, 2012 chardonnay, charles heintz vineyard, sonoma coast
berkshire pork loin & crispy belly pho
pickled green papaya, mung bean vermicelli
pork consomme, kale & thai basil, aleppo pepper
andis, 2012 cabernet franc, sierra foothills, california
provence roasted niman ranch lamb loin
socca & basil ratatouille, sweet spiced lamb jus
louis barruol, 2011 cote rot, neve, rhone valley
100% wagyu medallions, loco moco, sauteed pa’i’ai
poached quail egg, young carrot vichy moderne
flavored with ginger & cumin, pinot noir essence
bergstrom, 2012 pinot noir, silice, chehalem mountains, ava
pan fried big island goat dairy feta cheese
long pepper, sage honey crisp
salad of poha berry & frisee, mac nut snow
domaine huet, 2009 vouvray, le haut lieu, demi-sec, loire valley
honeydew melon in champagne gelee, fresh mint
rosemary roasted pineapple & semifreddo, guava gelee
coconut sorbet, sansho crumble
maculan, 2012 dindarello, veneto
waialua chocolate bar, yuzu guri guri, chiboust, & caramel
sesame crumbs, basil essence
w & j. graham’s 10 year tawny porto
earl grey blackberry macaron
guava pate de fruit
sea salt caramel
“Best dining in Honolulu” is a frequent comment by guests of Chef Mavro restaurant. Gayot just awarded Chef Mavro a coveted spot on their 2015 Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. for the 8th year! And Chef Mavro restaurant earned a Gayot food rating of 18/20, the highest food rating in Hawaii. But fine dining goes beyond the food to ambiance and service.
This top Honolulu restaurant continues to offer an ambiance designed for conversation (even for groups of 6-10, table conversation is easy; no need to shout to be heard). Also guests notice the luxurious soft feel of Egyptian cotton napkins instead of nonabsorbent synthetics. And knowing that you’re in a clean environment dining on fresh linen tablecloths instead of placemats. These are touch points of the best fine dining in Honolulu.
Service is personalized and friendly. Expert servers are there when you need them. Always.
Where is the best fine dining in Honolulu? Just 5 minutes from Waikiki at Chef Mavro restaurant. Experience great food, expert friendly service and a dining room accented with Hawaii art and described by some as “Hawaii-style residential.” Book your table at Chef Mavro in advance. We want you to have your preferred date and time. Walk-ins are welcome too.