Mavro Among Top U.S. French Chefs

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - September 14, 2011
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Chef Mavro. Jo McGarry photo

Chef Mavro is no stranger to awards and accolades, but this month he’s sharing the limelight with some fellow Francophiles. The Marseille native is just back from a trip to New Zealand, where the U.S. ambassador David Heubner raved about his cooking, and in the September issue of Wine Spectator, Mavro is named as one of the 11 best French chefs in America.

It’s great news for his King Street restaurant, and reservations from tourists are sure to see a boost in coming months because of it, but Mavro is just happy to be able to bring attention to the islands he calls home.

“Sometimes in Hawaii you feel like the rest of the world doesn’t really know what you are doing,” he said when we sat down for a pre-dinner chat last week. “Of course, the recognition is nice, but I think anytime there’s an opportunity to put Hawaii on the map it’s a good thing,”

Alongside Mavro and his good friend Alain Ducasse, Wine Spectator honored some big names in the culinary world including Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy and Pieree Gagnaire.

Although I have to wonder what culinary crime Jon Georges Vongerichten committed to cause his omission from the list. At the very least, a sense of aesthetics might have led the publisher to nominate the “12 best French chefs in America,” rather than just 11.

But it’s all good news for Hawaii, and somewhat perfect timing in this, the 20th anniversary of Hawaii Regional Cuisine. Mavro, of course, is one of the founding chefs.

He’s been regionally and seasonally cooking for the past two decades, and displays his love of Hawaii and his passion for our fruits, fish and local produce by creating small plates of beautifully balanced and delicately proportioned dishes every night (except Mondays) at his South King Street restaurant.

There’s a complete menu change four times a year, and wines are paired with dishes rather than provided as an endless list of perplexing choices. Blind tastings among the staff are conducted with each menu rotation “and every time the wine absolutely complements the food,” says the chef.

But while Mavro much prefers to create a dish and then move on, his signature classics have a way of coming back.

With regulars continually bemoaning the loss of dishes such as his Opakapaka Baked in Hawaiian Salt Crust, he’s celebrating 20 years of HRC by putting his greatest hits back on the menu. Some of the bestselling dishes making an encore appearance include Ahi Tartare and Caviar, Keahole Lobster Risotto and a Big Island Goat Cheese Mousse.

If you’re looking for somewhere to celebrate, want to head for a truly romantic night in a restaurant or you just want to see how one of America’s great French chefs is cooking, now is a great time to head to Chef Mavro. The limited celebration dishes won’t be around for long.

For reservations, call 9444714.

Happy eating!

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