Chef Mavro: Oahu’s Most Romantic Dining Destination

By Si Si Penaloza, Editorial Director,  Saturday, June 13, 2009 Posted in Travel – Culinary Tourism

Romantic Restaurant 5 minutes from Waikiki

Romantic Restaurant 5 minutes from Waikiki

Where Sensual Hedonism is Made to Order

Welcome to Pop-The-Question Central. If you find yourself on the magical island of Oahu with your sweetheart and he happens to mention that he’s made a reservation at Mavro, you might be in for more than a little seared tuna. Chef Mavro’s soulful culinary creations and intimate dining venue set the stage for magical evenings and grand gestures.

Since the venue opened in 1998, the accolades have been flowing in a steady stream. Chef George Mavrothalassitis, a founding member of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, holds the prestigious James Beard Foundation award as the Best Chef in Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest. The restaurant earned the Five Diamond rating from AAA for 2009. The prestigious Gayot restaurant critics bestowed their only “18/20” rating in Hawaii, and also named Chef Mavro as the only Hawaii restaurant in their Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. 2008-2009. Mavrothalassitis was also recognized as one of “America’s Top Six Chefs” in a Wine Spectator cover story on the masters of food and wine pairing.

With a charismatic and telegenic personality, he has also appeared on CNN, numerous shows on The Food Network, PBS “Great Chefs in America,” Discovery Channel’s “Home Matters,” the Travel Channel’s “The Tourist,” NBC’s Travel Café, and many others.

Mavrothalassitis’ impressive commitment to Hawaiian regional cuisine and island ingredients make his restaurant Oahu’s most celebrated destination dining venue. An evening at Chef Mavro brings together the formidable skills of this remarkable chef-owner into a sublime marriage with the finest specimens Hawaii has to offer. As satiated sentiments break like waves from table to table, it’s obvious the results are elegant, intriguing and unforgettable.

Mavro’s menu is reinvented each season as the culinary team works hand-in-hand with local farmers to bring new offerings to the table. He is a genius at developing innovative techniques that enhance the natural flavors of fresh local products. Chef Mavro is recognized as a trail-blazing innovator with his introduction of food & wine pairings, which has been an integral part of his practice since the restaurant opened its doors.

Instead of a wine list, every menu selection is presented with a wine pairing offered by the glass. This takes the edge off for a guy nervous about making the right moves with the wine list. No need to worry about impressing your dining partner. At Mavro, all the nuances of your masterpiece meal have been carefully studied an pre-selected. The selection process created by Mavro himself makes this even more unique. Four times a year, he convenes a committee of twenty five including his cooks, wait staff, and food and wine media. Together they carry out a blind tasting of a variety of wines with each of his recipes. The winning pairings, to be enjoyed by guests for the following three months, are selected based on a democratic vote.

Mavrothalassitis was born on the port in Marseilles, the capital of sun-kissed Provence, surrounded by the feral calls of fishmongers and the farm-fresh abundance of southern France. His award-winning cuisine is rooted in training with numerous masters of contemporary French cuisine and his experience as owner of the Restaurant Mavro in Marseilles and the Restaurant La Presqu’ile in the seaside village of Cassis.

Drawing current influence from his life in Hawaii, he loves to tell the story of his first morning in Honolulu. “At sunrise I looked out over Waikiki Beach to Diamond Head and I said to myself – That’s it! I’m home!” Ever since that day in 1988, Chef Mavro has embraced the multi-ethnic people and foods of Hawaii and has become close friends with dozens of boutique farmers and specialty fisherman. On the occasion of the 5th anniversary of Chef Mavro restaurant in December 2003, he gathered his longtime purveyors around a Chef’s Table to honor them as the foundation of his success.

One example among so many is Mavro’s partnership with Island-born vanilla farmer Jim Reddekopp and their launch of the Hawaiian vanilla industry in Honolulu. His dedication to quality is legendary. As his fresh fish buyer, Don Leong of Honolulu’s Wing Sing Seafood, comments “Chef Mavro is picky picky picky!”

“Sometimes buying local means the cost is higher and sometimes it takes more time but the reward is huge. Local farmers succeed and my guests enjoy fresh, regional ingredients and a dining experience they could have only in Hawaii,” explains Mavrothalassitis.

Chef Mavro recently made a trip to New York’s James Beard House for a tribute dinner for Mildred Amico, director emeritus of programming. As noted on the Beard website, “Mildred has spent the last 22 years inviting risen and rising star chefs of American gastronomy to cook in James Beard’s Kitchen.

For this seven-course Tribute dinner establishing a new culinary scholarship, Amico chose nine chefs who were closest to her heart: Four James Beard award-winners George Mavrothalassitis (Chef Mavro/Honolulu),Ming Tsai (Blue Ginger/Wellesley, MA), Eric Ripert (Le Bernadin/NYC), and Takashi Yagihashi (Takashi/Chicago), plus five other notable chefs Ed Brown (Eighty One/NYC), Rebecca Charles (Pearl Oyster Bar/NYC), Clark Frasier & Mark Gaier (Arrows and MC Perkins Cove/Ogunquit, ME), and Florian Bellanger (Mad Mac and Rue et Violette/NYC).

“I am deeply honored to cook for Mildred’s dinner. Her enthusiasm for my regional cuisine has helped put Hawaii on the national culinary map,” says Mavro. Chef Mavro featured an innovative farm-to-table recipe from his current menu, Big Island Abalone Ceviche with Red Chimichuri and Salt Cod Croquettes. Big Island Abalone is donating their fresh product in support of the event.

In 2004, he began offering intimate cooking classes at his restaurant. If you want to sweep a girl off her feet, do it in the kitchen. Make reservations for two at the next class; after all, the couple that cooks together stays together. Reservations for his classes can be made through Gourmet Cooking Hawaii. “Cooking for the Love of It!” offers a rare up-close experience with Chef Mavro and includes demonstrations, tastings, a gourmet lunch with wine pairings and, as always, entertaining anecdotes from a lifetime of “la dolce vita”!

If you only have one night to dine in Honolulu, make it Chef Mavro.

Chef Mavro

1969 South King Street

Honolulu, HI 96826

Phone: 808.944.4714

By Si Si Penaloza, Editorial Director,
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Si Si Penaloza, Editorial Director
About the contributor:

Si Si Penaloza is the Editorial Director of Prior to joining’s powerhouse executive team, Si Si cultivated strong ties with editors, producers and publishers at all major Canadian media outlets. She is a seasoned print, radio and broadcast specialist. Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Bowdoin College in Maine, Si Si moved to Manhattan to study Film at New York University. Her strengths lie in contextualizing relevant content for a broad audience. She’s driven to stay competitive and at the top of the market – commissioning exclusive features and launching bold initiatives. Contact Si Si at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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