Maui No Ka 'Oi Magazine September-October 2014 - September-October 2014
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Fantastic Favas, Tantalizing Tomatoes

Taking the Meat-free Challenge Is No Struggle with Maui’s Top Chefs.

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Photography by Jason Moore

I’m an omnivore. By choice and profession, I’ve cast my lot with those who eat high on the food chain. A phobia of cholesterol (and my environmentalist heart) may prompt me to abandon flesh in the future, but I haven’t yet chiseled down my incisors. Still, I wonder . . . could I do it? Could I—with my greedy, gourmet hankerings—turn vegetarian? I recently experimented the best way I know how: feasting lavishly at Maui’s top restaurants. Can fava beans turn the head of a foie-gras lover? Read on, ye of little faith.

Spago

Sleek furnishings . . . savvy waitstaff . . . breadbaskets brimming with crisp sourdough. (Crisp! In the tropics!) Any way you slice it, dinner at Spago is a luxurious event—even if you do skip the delectable lamb chops.

Luxury doesn’t require clogged arteries. Executive Chef Cameron Lewark claims his four-star menu makes the health grade, too. “Because of our Asian influences, we use less oil, less butter in the kitchen,” he says. While the menu doesn’t actually list a vegetarian entrée, the chef claims to have “four or five veggie options always in my pocket.”

Vegetarians can be “very picky,” remarks Chef Lewark, who seems to enjoy the challenge. “I teach my waiters to get as much information from the guest as possible.” He uses that as a platform to create a special meal. “Vegetarian food, to me, tends to be somewhat bland. I like to give guests big, intense, bold flavors, things they haven’t tried before.”

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