Of Curds And Ways To Succeed

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - September 14, 2005
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Randy and Donna Nakamoto with their
Planted by the River brand
tropical-flavored curds

Donna and Randy Nakamoto are expanding the reach of their tropical-flavored fruit curds made by their locally based company, Planted by the River.

The signature curds with a delicately vellum-wrapped jar cover come in mango peach, guava, lilikoi, and lilikoi with li hing. They are already in stores such as R. Field, Executive Chef, Compleat Kitchen, Honolulu Coffee Company and Neiman Marcus. The Mililani husband-and-wife team are grateful for the opportunity to be distributed in the Hawaiian goods section by the president of Washington-based Bear Creek Fine Foods, Punahou grad Mike Chittick.

“It helps so much that we have a distributor because the shipping costs can be so high,” says Randy.

Other local venues that carry the gourmet product are Pat’s Island Delights, Great Harvest Bread Company, Island Keepsakes, and at Hualalai Resorts on the Big Island and Kula Marketplace on Maui.

The company name, Planted by the River, is a verse in the Bible, as well as the literal translation of Donna’s maiden name. The firm began in 1999 when Donna localized a traditional English lemon curd recipe when a need opened up because a lilikoi butter supplier was retiring. They first tested it on a women’s group at church and when the ladies started scraping the extra curd from the bottom of the barrel, the Nakamotos knew they had the right combination.

Word of mouth spread the news about the curds, and people started giving jars of it to friends for gifts.  Making appearances at local trade shows, and craft fairs increased their business so much that they eventually started making the treats in the commercial kitchen at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Wahiawa. Wearing old-fashioned hats at some of the trade shows they attend, they try to bring out the sophistication of high tea. The curds can be spread on crackers, scones or bagels. Another idea is to use it to cover a plain cheese-cake.

“Some people even use the guava as a glaze on ham,” explains Donna.

The busy season of August to January is maintained by the couple - and lots of very appreciated volunteer help from their friends and family- while they still work their day jobs at the Hyatt Regency in Waikiki. Randy, a Kaimuki grad and an assistant bell captain, has been there since 1976. Donna, a Roosevelt grad and cook at Ciao Mein, has been there since 1986.

He handles the front end including public relations. She handles the back end of cooking and mixing of ingredients. Donna’s previous experience includes photography in college, and working in the bridal floral business.

Planted by the River also makes four flavors of scone mixes and has a line of teas and coffees as well.  For more information, call 626-2353 log onto www.plantedbytheriver.com

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