Friday - September 28, 2011 Share Del.icio.us | Podcast | WineAndDineHawaii.com
Occupation: Chef/Owner 12th Avenue Grill, Kaimuki, and SALT, Waialae Avenue.
Where were you born and raised? Rochester, N.Y.
Everyone is talking sustainability these days, but you’ve been cooking farm to fork for a long time. I started cooking at a farm-to-table restaurant in 1978. I got my degree in environmental studies and then studied renewable energy. In Santa Cruz, where I spent 10 years, the food scene was exploding and I became known as the guy who worked out of the farmers markets. The produce was amazing.
You were a little ahead of your time.Yeah, the first restaurant I worked at had its own garden, its own sheep ... it was the hippie thing (laughs), but I never stopped cooking that way.
But when you came to Hawaii ... I took my first job at 3660 on the Rise and immediately asked, “So where do we go for the farm produce?” Nalo Farms was supplying a few restaurants, and that was about it. We found some farmers on the Big Island and started to order from them.
Was it always your dream to have the ultimate neighborhood restaurant?
Actually, I had a catering business and I wanted to do a takeout deli, but I couldn’t find the right place. 12th Avenue Grill was kind of Plan B.
Where do you eat when you’re not running two restaurants? My wife Denise and I like to eat ethnic food, so Tokkuri Tei, Gaku, To Thai For, Chian Mai, Hale Pho ...
Do you cook at home? Yes, a lot. I cook the same kind of food that we cook at 12th Avenue Grill. Lots of one-pot dishes, soups and casseroles and stews.
What’s always in your fridge? Organic milk and juices for our son. Cheese and fruit, tofu, poi, hot sauces and olives.
Favorite kitchen implement? Knife and cutting board. I have every kind of gadget and never use any of them.
With whom would you most like to have dinner? My dad was very proud of what I was doing but passed away before seeing what we’re doing here. And I once had the pleasure of cooking for Julia Child in the early ‘90s, and she was the nicest, most-gracious person in the world. I’d love the chance to cook for her again.
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