Thanks to Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation, the students of Hawaii Community College Culinary program were treated to a lecture by Chef Ed Kenney and Dave Caldeiro of TOWN in Kaimuki, Oahu, last Monday.
TOWN opened in 2005, with the philosophy of: Local First, Organic Whenever Possible, with Aloha Always. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, with seating for 80, Ed and Dave opened the restaurant to feed their family and friends, not knowing if their philosophy of helping the local farmers would be a success or failure. Nine years later, they brought Shinsato Hog Farm from nearly closing to a very viable business by buying a hog every week. Third-generation hog farmer Glenn Shinsato also now raises rabbits for them.
Chef Ed and Chef Dave have so much respect for the farmer, who is connected to his soil and believe in the slow oods movement of preserving traditions of family foods. They could easily pay $4 a pound for vegetables from Costco, but instead, pay $11 a pound to a local farmer so he can make an honest living.
One of their vegetable and fruit vendors is Ma’o Certified Organic Farms. Located on 24 acres in Waianae, it is a non-profit organization that reconnects about 60 students from the Waianae area, gives them a free-ride scholarship to earn a degree in sustainable food, and $1,000 in stipends. For many, this stipend is the sole source of income for the family. Faced with the statistics at Waianae High School of a 65 percent dropout rate and only 2 percent completing college, Ed and Mark wanted to help make this program work and support them buy buying fruits and vegetables weekly.
Seeing what the program does for the community’s youth and provide local products so we can become more and more self-sufficient, Chef Ed and Dave are currently working on planning a similar certified organic farm on the North Shore, hiring the youngsters from the Kahuku and Waialua area. They plan to build a restaurant to make the enterprise a viable and money-making venture.
Both Chef Ed and Dave shared with the students about noting a reservation from Alice Waters with a return phone number from California. They both acted like young giggling school girls, so thrilled at the thought that their patron for the night could possibly be THE Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, the Edible Schoolyard movement and a strong supporter of Slow Foods. Well, it was the REAL Alice Waters from Chez Panisse and Chef Ed and Dave both giggled throughout the night!
TOWN brings back the ancient paiai, or hand-pounded poi on their menu. There is very little water in paiai, unlike the poi we buy at the market. If you do not care for poi, paiai will change your mind. When chilled, the paiai can be sliced and then fried like a polenta cake. In fact, TOWN served Michelle Obama dinner with fried paiai with a piece of fresh mahimahi on top.
Chef Ed also talked about Kuahiwi Ranch in Kau, who, according to him, have the best local beef! We got to sample a slice of Kuahiwi Ranch beef sitting on top of a piece of fried paiai. A ball of fresh paiai was also on the plate for us to sample. The structure of the poi changes when turned to a fried cake and almost had the texture of mochi. It was interesting and delicious.
We also were given locally grown Hakurrei turnips three ways: raw with pickled mustard seeds and lavender sea salt; steamed (sous vide) with orange and fennel; and roasted with high heat. Who would think a simple turnip could taste so good and different?
Chef Ed is collaborating with other chefs to create meals with taro in the feature documentary, “I am Haloa,” currently on a fundraising campaign (with a goal of $77,000, the last time I checked, they were halfway there). It will be “about Hawaiian identity and culture, as understood through the story of Haloa, the first person in the Hawaiian Creation Story known as the Kumulipo and the traditional Hawaiian staple food known as poi.
This film tells the story of three Kamehameha School seniors who are embarking on a journey of self-discovery as they travel throughout the Hawaiian Islands to gain a better understanding of their culture and to re-establish a link to the first Hawaiian, Haloa. For 90 days they will commit to cultivating and eating kalo for 3 meals a day.”
Check out iamhaloa.org to donate to this fundraising effort to produce the film on one of our most important foods, the taro.
Here is a recipe by Ed and son Duke Kenney:
“Steak and Poi”
Paiai (firm poi)
Extra virgin olive oil
Butter chili peppah water
Salt and pepper
Season the room temperature steak with salt and pepper. Grill steak to medium rare or your liking. Allow the steak to rest. Slice the paiai to 3”X3”X1/2” slices and season with salt and pepper. Sear the paiai on both side with butter in a medium hot pan until brown and crisp. Dress the watercress with fresh squeeze lemon juice, evoo, salt, and pepper. Cut the tomatoes into chunks. Thinly slice onion and combine with tomatoes. Season the tomatoes/onions with chili peppah water, salt, and pepper. Slice the steak. Place the paiai on the plate, top with watercress, top with sliced steak, and spoon over tomato. Grind!
Thank you Hayley Matson Mathes of Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation for bringing such an interesting program to the Hawaii Community College students.
TOWN is located on 3435 Waialae Avenue, #103. Call 808-735-5900 or check out their website: www.townkaimuki.com
The Hawaii Community College Cafeteria is open from tomorrow till Friday and the Bamboo Hale is featuring the foods of Italy this week. Reservations start at 11a.m. with last reservation at 12:20. Call 934-2591.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have a question. Bon appetit until next week.