Chef Mavro, for my money, is Honolulu’s finest restaurant. Here, I’m enjoying a wide array of delights in a multi-course tasting menu. The swordfish crusted with mochi bursts with freshness. Corn fritters accompanying local duckling are a taste revelation. The arugula served with the Maui goat cheese and strawberry/green peppercorn jam tastes like it just came out of the field.
It’s no great surprise, then, to find that it did just come out of the field, picked at a local farm. Chef George Mavrothalassitis stops by the table and I ask him about this. “About 85% of our ingredients,” he proclaims, “are local. All the vegetables, all the fish of course, and for spices like ginger…” he smiles. “Well, maybe more than 85%.” With typical modesty, he seems to ignore his own amazing talent, proclaiming, “using small farms is what makes the restaurant special.”
Well, maybe there’s something to that, I realize, and I start digging deeper. In Hawaii, I soon find out, locally sourced food is beyond a currently fashionable movement—it’s almost a religion. There’s a historic connection to the land and sea, and the very act of dining echoes through centuries of Hawaiian culture. People here believe passionately in the bounty of the land. Sustainability is not just a buzzword.