The Readers Also Digest

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Story by Rita Goldman

looking backFood has been part of Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi since our premiere issue rolled off the presses in Summer 1996. That first issue even managed to score four of the legendary founders of Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine: Chefs Philippe Padovani, Gary Strehl, Eric Leterc and Alan Wong. What they were doing with that bikini-clad manikin is another story. . . .

maui chefs looking back
Chefs Padovani, Strehl, Leterc and Wong, Mānele Bay Hotel.

Three months later, we featured one of Maui’s more illustrious residents, Shep Gordon, a talent manager and producer whose client list has ranged from Alice Cooper to Groucho Marx. But whom did we show standing proudly alongside Shep? Chef Roger Vergé. Their friendship inspired Gordon to create Grand Chefs on Tour, bringing food celebs like Alice Waters and Emeril Lagasse to Maui.

As our own culinary professionals have expanded their horizons, we’ve been privileged to come along for the ride — once literally, sending dining editor Becky Speere out before dawn on a boat that catches dinner for Mama’s Fish House. We applauded when Chef Tylun Pang transformed Kō restaurant into a paean to Hawai‘i’s multicultural plantation past . . . insinuated ourselves into the kitchen of a gourmet chocolatier (honest, only for the sake of the story!) . . . and let our minds boggle at Chef Jojo Vasquez’s experiments with molecular gastronomy — lobster foam, popping candies and all.

And while we’ve indulged in the opulent, we’ve also celebrated what is quintessentially Maui: from Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice, to T. Komoda’s Store & Bakery, to ten places to satisfy your ‘ōpū for under ten bucks.

In 2011, we got the delicious idea to turn our annual Holiday Test Kitchen into cooking with the pros, inviting top Maui chefs into island kitchens to show us how it’s done — and share their recipes. They’ve always said yes.

It’s been an honor, a pleasure, and a belt-buster to share this culinary journey with you. In exchange, two favors, please: Go explore Maui’s diverse dining scene; enjoy an old favorite and discover a new. Then share what you’ve learned.

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