PACIFIC BUSINESS NEWS, September 6, 2013

Photo Credit: Tina Yuen, Pacific Business News, September 6, 2013

Photo Credit: Tina Yuen, Pacific Business News, September 6, 2013


Four questions for Chef Mavro

Stephanie Silverstein

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.