Chef Mavro's BlogBlogging about food & wine
PACIFIC BUSINESS NEWS, September 6, 2013
Four questions for Chef Mavro
Reporter-Pacific Business News
George Mavrothalassitis is chef and proprietor of Chef Mavro, a top-rated fine-dining restaurant in Honolulu. I had the opportunity to talk story with Chef Mavro, as he is most commonly known, in his restaurant with the same name. Here is what we talked about:
What do you enjoy about living in Hawaii?
I’ve been here for 27 years. Do I have to explain? I come from the French Riviera. It’s not bad.
But, what I like about Hawaii — it’s not the scenery or the coconut trees — I think it’s the people. I like that Hawaii is islands, and maybe that comes from my blood. My father was born on a very small island. Maybe it comes from this. Who knows? When Halekulani hired me in ‘88, I remember I came, I flew, and we arrived at the end of the day. It was dark. I went to Halekulani, I had dinner at La Mer and after that, I went to my room. It was, I guess 6 o’clock in the morning, dawn, I opened the window and I saw what I didn’t see when I arrived because it was dark. I saw Waikiki, Diamond Head and it was blue because it was early in the morning. I couldn’t believe — I said, ‘Wow, I’m home.’ I think it was deep.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Not working? What are you talking about? I don’t have a concept of “day off.” To me, day off doesn’t exist. Restaurant is closed on Monday, on Monday you can think “day off” [but] I have so much paperwork.
This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy being off. My restaurant, I don’t have to give notice to take off, so I escape. I escaped a few weeks ago and we went to spend three weeks in Provence, close to my hometown in the south of France. And I love to escape to Kauai, to Big Island. If my schedule is OK, I escape. Even sometimes, I can stay home. I’m lucky to live Makiki with a fantastic view. Being home and looking out my window, I’m already on vacation.
What is your favorite meal to cook at home?
I like fish. I cook a lot of fish. I go to pick up my fish at Tamashiro Market. I like chicken. I like easy cooking. I cook a lot. Usually chefs don’t cook at home. I cook at home. To me, it’s almost like meditation because there’s no pressure. My kitchen, I can cook all day with not one single spot on me, and at home, I make a mess.
What do you enjoy about operating your own Facebook and Twitter accounts?
I have to confess, I enjoy it. I enjoy Twitter and Facebook. I start to communicate with people and it’s quite interesting.
You are not going to see “I went to Magic Island this morning and the weather was beautiful.” I don’t do that. It’s 100 percent business, 100 percent restaurant and 100 percent cooking.
We never advertise. I never spend one dime on advertising — one dime. We opened 15 years ago and we never advertised. In my category, we don’t advertise. If I advertise, people say, “Oh what is going on?” So to me, what I felt a long time ago, 15 years ago, I started a newsletter. It was communication by email, a newsletter about what is going on. Now we have a database of about 9,000 guests.
When I discovered Twitter and Facebook it was to me, to multiply. So I was posting my newsletter, which if you look at my page, you’re going to find. I post my newsletter on my page and on Twitter, also.
It’s great. I have a great return for this, and I enjoy doing it.
At beginning, I thought it was taking too much of my time. I found a way to do a little better and faster and to be more efficient. I have almost 2,000 friends on Facebook and 2,000-something on Twitter that follow me. I think this is good enough.
Stephanie Silverstein covers tourism, retail and money for Pacific Business News.
Chef Mavro restaurant recommended by Modern Luxury Hawaii August 9, 2013
by Kai Andersen and Diane Seo
“Leave it to James Beard Award-winning chef George
Mavrothalassitis to wow with his new summer menu dubbed Return from
Provence. We suggest you splurge with the Grand Degustation, an 11-course sampling that wows with the very first bite. (How could you not
love the abalone, served with a light, airy tarama?) The symphony
continues with Indochine-style poached Keāhole lobster and squab
served in papillote. The final dishes like the goat cheese ice cream
are simply marvelous. With menus like this, it’s no wonder, then, that
Gayot selected the Mō‘ili‘ili eatery as one of the 2013 Top 40
Restaurants in the U.S., the only Hawai‘i establishment on the list.
1969 S. King St., McCully/Mō‘ili‘ili, 944.4714, chefmavro.com“
Be sure to catch Chef Mavro’s appearance at the 3rd Annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival event “Taste our Love for the Land, ” a stroll-around feast, September 7th at the Hawaii Convention Center. “I always want to recognize Hawaii’s farmers and fishermen because they are the foundation of my success. I have to know exactly where my ingredients come from and they have to be fresh every morning. Local is best. End of story!” exclaims Chef Mavro.
(text and image courtesy of the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival)
“Ingredients are the raw materials of a chef’s art. Without quality materials, a masterpiece is reduced to simply ordinary. Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival’s Taste Our Love for the Land pays tribute to the abundance of these extraordinary materials in the Islands and highlights the intimate connection between the food on your plate and the land on which it’s grown.
This night of unlimited feasting takes place on the charming rooftop garden of the Hawai’i Convention Center. Featuring 18 world-renowned chefs noted for sustainable cooking and 19 master sommeliers, wineries, and mixologists, this event is the festival’s biggest, meaning more food and more wine! Join George “Chef Mavro” Mavrothalassitis, Chris Cosentino, Ed Kenney, Art Smith, Sang Yoon, Sheldon Simeon, and many more on this unforgettable night, Sept. 7.”
Hawaii Food & Wine Festival Signature Event “Taste our Love for the Land”
Saturday, September 7
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Rooftop Garden at Hawaiʻi Convention Center
THE WEEKLY EATER
“When some friends wanted to try the menu, I tagged along, intending only to share a few photos on my food blog at takeabite.staradvertiserblogs.com, but I was wowed by the strong flavors and pure bravura on display, so wanted to share the menu with the nongeek set as well.”
August 7, 2013
Mavro’s summer menu delights
with color, flair
Nadine Kam, restaurant critic
Four Stars (highest rating) for Food, Service, Ambience and Value
Summer is the season for travel, but even if you can’t leave home, you can live vicariously through friends who are proficient with a camera and are ready and willing to share photos of what they’ve seen and done on their vacations.
George Mavrothalassitis, aka Chef Mavro, does most sojourners one step better, seizing on the sensory experience of ocean, gardens and terroir of a destination, and bringing to his kitchen memories of those scent and flavor profiles for the rest of us to savor.
The new summer menu at Chef Mavro is a gustatory postcard of his vacation in Provence. In translating his experience to the table, the James Beard Award-winning chef showed why he remains one of the best in the islands, through four- ($85) or six-course ($128) prix fixe dinners, or an 11-course grand degustation ($175 per person for whole table only). Wine pairings are $55, $63 and $98, respectively.
The “Provence Honolulu Express” menu is inspired by finds and techniques gleaned from kitchens of the south of France, with the best of locally sourced ingredients, and it seemed best to try everything. When some friends wanted to try the menu, I tagged along, intending only to share a few photos on my food blog at takeabite.staradvertiserblogs.com, but I was wowed by the strong flavors and pure bravura on display, so wanted to share the menu with the nongeek set as well.
Dinner started with an amuse bouche of creamy chilled kabocha curry soup, with accents of salty bacon in a coconut mousse and the slight bitter crunch of cocoa nibs.
The amuse set the tone for the rest of the meal, full of lively, surprising touches that set off pleasurable flavor explosions on the palate.
A confit of Big Island abalone came next. For this dish the chef went back to his Greek roots. His father’s secret to cooking abalone was to use almonds, which Mavro now uses to finish his own dish. The abalone is cooked at low temperature so it’s tender, drizzled in lime juice with a touch of Hanapepe salt and served atop a tzatziki cucumber-almond milk Greek caviar mousse, and garnished with a cucumber ring full of foamed tarama and a crisp sliver of house pita bread.
Next up was the chef’s upscale version of an ahi bowl, with spicy big-eye ahi topping a bowl of steamed basmati rice. The luxe touch is a velvety sea urchin and aleppo pepper aioli dotted with bits of ogo. Drawn onto the plate is a line of shoyu powder, adding its umami effect when sprinkled onto the dish. I could have stopped eating here and been fully satisfied. My mind was telling me to stop eating the rice, which would fill my stomach quickly, but it was so delicious I polished off the whole thing.
An Indochine-style poached Keahole lobster came next, served over long rice beside Kurobuta pork kau yuk. A pour of tamarind and lemongrass broth with crustacean essence was added. This was heaven.
Compared with what had come before, the seared onaga registered as plain, though the work that went into its sauce was no less intense. The dish had a calming effect before the second main course and finale, as though the chef were orchestrating a performance. The fish is served over bitter burgundy-braised radicchio with raito, or rayte, red wine sauce that the chef discovered in an 1897 cookbook. This “pinot noir essence” is finished with vegetable broth, capers, confit tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil and air, for a bubbly effect. He topped the onaga with its fish skin “chicharron,” which he says is not to be tried at home. My friends wished it could be packaged like pork rinds.
Entree choices for the six-course menu are a meat lover’s Wagyu and braised short rib with chimichurri sauce and parsnip puree (add $28) or squab breast baked in papillote with savoy cabbage and chipolata. With the squab, you get the chef’s personalized service as he arrives at the table to open the paper pouch, plate the bird and gently pour on the jasmine tea-squab jus. A thigh is served on dandelion greens with a tart poha berry salad.
I’m partial to the lamb that comes with the four-course meal. The mushroom-dusted Niman Ranch lamb loin is seared and served with lamb jus, accompanied by eggplant caviar, julienned snow peas and a pair of thin toasts topped with green and black olive tapenade.
Just when we thought we could eat no more, an arugula-goat cheese salad arrived like dessert, with the greens surrounding a refreshing helping of Hawaii Island goat cheese ice cream, one of many wonders served up by Mavro’s new pastry chef, Elizabeth Dippong. All were sweetened with Mavro’s strawberry-rhubarb minute jam and finished with the honeycomb crunch of Elizabeth’s Volcano Island Honey CandyPre-dessert was a block of translucent champagne gelee set to show its contents of red watermelon forming a floral pattern.
At this point we were moaning and groaning about not being able to eat another bite. But small nibbles of lychee with Valrhona white chocolate, yuzu cream, pistachio semifreddo and candied basil led us to finish this dessert as well, except for the bitter Campari gel.
We also finished the savory guava-olive oil sorbet that came with the next dessert, but ended up taking home the rest of it, as small as it was. The Madre Hamakua chocolate and cocoa nib dacquoise was too good to allow to go to waste. It’s served with a confit of mango with the gentle heat of the Turkish pepper urfa biber, and the crunch of chocolate feuilletine.
It was, from beginning to end, a meal worth remembering.
——— Nadine Kam‘s restaurant reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Advertiser. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hawaii food & wine restaurant features Cristom 2011 Viognier, Willamette Valley with Lobster Lemongrass dish
Chef Mavro Sommelier Doug Johnson notes that guests are enjoying the pairing of Cristom Viognier with the Lobster Lemongrass dish indochine-style, long rice, kau yuk, kaffir lime, tamarind, green papaya, chervil, crustacean essence. This Hawaii food & wine restaurant is celebrating 15 years of menus dedicated to offering a wine by the glass with each recipe, including desserts. Chef Mavro restaurant gives guests an experience of how the perfect wine pairing elevates the flavors of each dish and in term, the flavors of the dish show the wine to best advantage.
chocolate – mango
madre hamakua chocolate & cocoa nib dacquoise, urfa biber confit mango
chocolate feuilletine, guava olive oil sorbet
wine pairing: alvear, “solera 1927” pedro ximenez, montilla-moriles, spain
“butterscotch, fig jam, bitter cocoa & crème brulee”
Today! Honolulu Star-Advertiser, July 12, 2013, Quick Bites, Nina Wu, honolulupulse.com, page 23
Pastry Chef Elizabeth Dippong’s Big Island Goat Cheese Ice Cream, her Volcano Island Honey Candies, and Chef Mavro’s Strawberry-Rhubarb one-minute jam are taste sensations in the recipe shown here. Guests are raving about the new lamb and squab recipes too. Reservations 808-944-4714 or online www.chefmavro.com/reservations
In Chef Mavro’s words:
abalone – tarama, for this recipe I went back to my roots, way before I was born…Greece!
I guess I was in a Mediterranean mood after my trip to Provence. In France we call abalones “Ormeaux.” In Hawaii abalones are produced in the most sustainable way in the Big Island Abalone Farm. They are raised from scratch in the pristine deep ocean waters from Kona.
My Greek father, even though he came to France when he was only 5 years old, was still very Greek…so Greek…and of course he loved to cook! He used to make the best Taramosalata in the world. He has a secret ingredient…almonds. I always thought this secret was coming from his native Island, Symi…I went to Symi many times and I never met any cook there who was adding almond to tarama; nowhere in Greece. If you know anything about this method, please let me know; if not I am starting to think that this was his own creation…
Anyway, I finish my Tarama with almond milk like him & this it is not a secret anymore!
The abalone is confite at a very low temperature, sliced & skewered on top of a tzatziki, cucumber salad with Greek yogurt & extra virgin olive oil. The Tarama is foamed into a cucumber ring & we serve with a house pita bread cooked a la minute just before we send the dish to your table.
the wine: Since we couldn’t find any Greek wine on the Island matching this recipe, the pairing went to a Riesling Kabinett from Joh. Jos. Prüm. This complex wine with fresh cut green apple, passion fruit flavors & a tangy mineral finish is the most beautiful pairing you can find.
(This is an excerpt from Chef Mavro’s letter to return guests. If you would like to receive his letter about the new menu and his trip to Provence, just send your email to email@example.com)
Don’t miss this appetizer on your next visit! Shoyu powder on the rim is a flavorful accent. Two choices of sake pairings with the Spicy Bigeye Ahi. Photo taken June 26, 2013
ahi – aleppo pepper
spicy bigeye ahi, ogo,
sea urchin-aleppo pepper aioli
basmati rice sushi style, shoyu powder
pairing: shirakabe gura, sho chiku bai, mio sparkling sake, nada japan
“refreshing and fruity; soft and smooth texture”
or sommelier selection
kubota manju, junmai daiginjo sake, niigata
“exquisitely smooth & silky with hints of cedar, wet stone & orange blossom”
Tonight guests are enjoying Chef Mavro’s Flight of Caviar. This is a rare opportunity to taste and compare three different sustainable caviars and try to choose a favorite! It’s a taste sensation that inspires conversation about whether you prefer the Russian Golden Osetra from Bulgaria, the Siberian Osetra from Uruguay, or the White Sturgeon from California. Served tableside with fresh blinis and creme fraiche. A glass of champagne is the perfect complement to this amazing dining experience. As featured in Honolulu magazine!
Reserve a table and give your Mom the best! All weekend our Pastry Chef Elizabeth Dippong will prepare this special creamy delicious Mother’s Day dessert. Four-course flexible menu $85 with other options available. Comfortable seating, relaxed ambiance. Top food rating in Hawaii 18/20 by Gayot.
namelaka – lemongrass
valrhona white chocolate lemongrass bavaroise, red wine blackberry gelée
rose water baby meringue, almond cardamom crumble, poached seasonal berries
wine pairing: malvira, 2011 birbet, italy
“red wine made from the brachetto grape with a slight sparkle & notes of fresh plums & berries”
Catch – Ratatouille
Families are already bringing their Moms in for a special dinner at Chef Mavro, the top choice for Mother’s Day in Honolulu! The official Chef Mavro Mother’s Day Weekend is Friday, May 10, Saturday, May 11, and Sunday May 12. Here we are showing a 4-course Mother’s Day Dinner Menu although our 6-course and Grand Tasting menus will also be available. Menus are flexible. Another treat offered only at Chef Mavro is a Flight of Sustainable Caviars! Give your Mom the very best in Hawaii-style fine dining at the Honolulu restaurant with the top Gayot food rating of 18/20. Savor a farm-t0-table dinner and share an experience that will long be remembered.
Reserve your table now by calling us at (808) 944-4714 or online at the Reservations page of this website.
Chef Mavro Mother’s Day Menu
4 courses $85
includes special Mother’s Day Dessert three days only May 10, 11 and 12, 2013
asparagus – declinaison
white asparagus kanten flavored with sarriette, green asparagus purée
sea asparagus tempura, ponzu sauce, asparagus étuvée, serrano ham on house bread stick
catch – ratatouille
steamed day boat catch, ratatouille, zucchini ribbons
essence of basil, and jus
pork – espelette
berkshire pork loin accented with espelette, pineapple glaze, braised & roasted shank
fricassée of hamakua hon shimeji mushroom, salsify, sumida watercress
Mother’s Day Dessert
valrhona white chocolate lemongrass bavaroise, red wine blackberry gelée
rose water baby meringue, almond cardamom crumble, poached seasonal berries