Story by Becky Speere | Photography by Nina Kuna
Chris Schobel is a happy-go-lucky chef who once worked as a screaming, gyrating commodities-floor trader at the New York Mercantile Exchange. He says, “I love to be in the kitchen. And when I make a mistake, I just do it over. But on the trading floor, if you screw up a trade with someone else’s $25,000. . . .” In 2004, Schobel traded hand and body gestures for a whisk, and graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America. He went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in business at Le Cordon Bleu Adelaide in South Australia, then boomeranged back to Hula Grill in Ka‘anapali, where he had externed as a Culinary Institute student. A year later, he was promoted to executive chef at Hula Grill.
Schobel is a founding member of Growing Future Farmers, a program that provides grants to young people entering that field. Localicious is one of the ways the program raises funds; participating restaurants designate a “Grown on Maui” salad on their menus, and contribute $1 to Future Farmers every time someone orders it. Schobel says, “I love Localicious. Supporting the upcoming generation of farmers is important to our economy and Maui’s sustainability.” In 2013 — the same year he opened Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse — Schobel received the Maui County Farm Bureau’s Friend of Agriculture award.
I arrive at Fat Daddy’s just as two guests are leaving. One sated diner tells Schobel, “I am a serious [meat] smoker myself, and I can tell that you know what you’re doing. We’ll be back.” As they exit, Schobel turns to me with a big smile and says, “Some visitors come in three times during their stay on Maui!” It’s no wonder that his workhorse smoker is going twenty hours a day, loaded with up to 200 pounds of spicy tri-tips, briskets, pork butts (for pulled pork sandwiches), whole fat chickens, and St. Louis-style ribs. This is a barbecue lover’s paradise.
I am so hungry, I almost order The Sampler, a half-pound each of four different meats, but I restrain myself and make a mental note for my family’s next beach outing. I order a beef brisket that’s been double smoked over kiawe wood for fourteen hours. The tender burnt ends fill the room with a smoky aroma. For sides, I’ve chosen fried and crunchy hot jalapeno hush puppies, home-style chunky potato salad, and bleu-cheese-spiked Kula cabbage and green apple coleslaw. A Maui Brewing Company Lorenzini Double IPA, with hints of tangerine and blood orange, waits on the sideline in an icy, frozen glass to wash it all down.
As I dig in, I smile to think what a wise move Schobel made in exchanging the trading floor for a smokehouse.
Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse
1913 South Kihei Road, Kihei
879-8711 • FatDaddysMaui.com
Open daily 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. | Fat & Happy Hour: 3–5 p.m.