Story by Becky Speere | Photography by Mieko Horikoshi
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The menu threw Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi Magazine’s art director into a tail-spin. “How can we make all these recipes in a few hours?” John Giordani exclaimed.
“Chef Tylun is a pro,” I assured him. “Don’t worry.”
How could I ask Tylun to cut a few dishes from his test-kitchen menu, when each was a favorite of mine? And not just mine; this test kitchen would spring from a treasured collection of family recipes that he wanted to share with the world. Plus, as my husband told me a few nights earlier, “Tylun is like the Godfather to all Maui’s chefs. They revere him.” Question the Godfather’s menu? No way.
Executive Chef Tylun Pang has managed the kitchens at the Fairmont Kea Lani for twenty-one years, including the resort’s fine-dining venue, Kō — the Hawaiian word for sugarcane. It’s no secret that Kō’s eclectic plantation menu is one of the best. Its blend of native Hawaiian fare with home-style foods brought to the islands by Chinese, Japanese, Puerto Rican, Filipino, Korean and Portuguese immigrant workers has earned Kō seven Gold and four Silver ‘Aipono Restaurant Awards since it opened in March of 2012.
But today Chef is helming a more intimate kitchen — at the home of Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi publisher Diane Haynes-Woodburn — helping the magazine’s staff prepare our annual Holiday Test Kitchen.
Tylun grew up on O‘ahu, where, he says, “My grandmother worked as a cook’s helper, making dim sum in Chinatown. My dad loved to cook as a hobby. He learned to make the crispy noodle dish we’ll prepare today because he got tired of taking us to the Chinese restaurant.” Then he laughs. “We’d go to the noodle shop and the noodle maker’s eyebrows to his toes were covered in white flour.”