I rolled past the visiting crowds, rented a white economy car and slapped my catering business, car magnets on either side, right there in the parking lot. My first stop in Kona was a restaurant supply that I'd GPS'd for a knife sharpener and a few other tools of the trade. At the back of the store looking at chopstick sets and sushi platters, I heard a jovial voice request "the Chef with the great car signage". On Island less then an hour and I'm shaking hands with a local guy who owns a busy catering business. He needs backup at several events within the next few weeks. After working together, he and his wife and I became great friends and they really helped to network me for Private Chef dinners and smaller gatherings. I'd come to Hawaii primarily for a much needed sabbatical but I also wanted to jump into the culinary wave here and get into Pacific Rim cooking. Here was my opportunity for a paid invitation. Thank's for suggesting a "bucket list" dad, I've always wanted to live "Hawaii".
A year on the Big Island is potentially a book all on it's own. I've got some classic stories from a variety of kitchens that can top Saturday Night Live, for sure. Do you know that the presence of cockroaches and rats do not always constitute a dirty kitchen? My place on the board of the Farmer/Chef Association was a tasty adventure, helping to organize lavish culinary events in a tropical paradise. Grand Resorts full of World Class Chefs serving artful tasting plates paired with wines and local Island beers was a divine opportunity. I snorkeled with dolphins, crewed a catamaran with 150 visitors daily for snorkeling dive tours. It truly was an adventure, bitter and sweet.
I shipped my mini Mitsubishi jeep, full of gear, to Maui and took a Private Chef position with a family on a compound with four unique homes. Their art and yoga retreats on the cliffs at Haiku offered fresh ocean breezes off transcendent vistas and "crazy ono" menus of local flavors land and sea, "Island style". Homemade kombucha, a beautiful organic garden and tropical fruit orchard created the perfect space for healthy guests to thrive. Maui vistas often shape shifted to resemble Mendocino through the mist. Pulling over to soak in the sunset, and squint for a green flash, I looked across the water and pictured a cathedral of Redwoods encircling me, the smell of the forest and a feeling of home. By Valerie Adair www.culinaryorigins.com