Story by Becky Speere | Photography by Nina Kuna
Braised Kona abalone, pickled Kusshi oysters, Kaua‘i shrimp, and sweet, Kona-raised Manila clams chillin’ under a blanket of celery granita on a hot summer day. Slurp it down and you are instantly refreshed.
Chef de Cuisine Gary Johnson of Joe’s Nuevo Latino got his inspiration for this dish from memorable spring and summer escapades in Baja California’s Porto Penasco when he was a college student. “We’d get up late in the morning after partying all night and walk down to the food stand on the beach, and there on the counter was a huge glass gallon jar of chilled ceviche. They’d ladle it into a bowl and serve it with saltine crackers for breakfast.”
Amid stiff competition at the 2015 Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, Chef Gary’s seafood cocktail was a standout, winning Best of the Fest.
As dining editor for Maui No Ka ‘Oi, I had the honor of judging the competition, along with publisher Diane Haynes Woodburn; Master Sommelier Patrick Okubo; Chef Cameron Lewark of Spago at the Four Seasons Maui; and Daniel Chun, Alaska Airlines regional manager of sales. (Alaska Airlines generously provided 40,000 miles to the winner). Okubo spoke for all of us when he said, “The competition is a difficult one, yet we sampled twelve incredible dishes. If you could see how much work goes into the dish and how every one of these restaurants adjusts to provide over a thousand portions, you, too, would be impressed.”
Congratulations to Joe’s Nuevo Latino, Best of the Fest at the 2015 Kapalua Wine & Food Festival’s seafood finale!
Story Update: This restaurant is now closed.