Dinner, with a side of typeface

“Food is so close to our emotional state,” says Justin Cravalho, co-founder of Humanhand, a design company whose clients include Otto Cake and Highway Inn. “We use it for so many different reasons–control, enjoyment, satisfaction…There’s something different about [designing for food companies]. It has to be very emotionally connected to a person.”

Read the rest: http://honoluluweekly.com/restaurants/2010/11/dinner-with-a-side-of-typeface/

Shared dreams: kitchen incubators

What we see: the shrimp trucks along roadsides, pizza and taro mochi at farmers’ markets, cookies, jams and sauces at craft fairs and on grocery store shelves. What we don’t see: the shared-use kitchens, without which Hawaii’s culinary landscape would look a lot different.

Without these community kitchens, also known as kitchen incubators, the cost of starting a legitimate food business by leasing or building a kitchen according to health code would be prohibitively expensive. Many of the businesses that have made names for themselves locally and nationally may never have launched: PacifiKool, a ginger syrup listed in Saveur magazine’s 100 list; CakeLava, a specialty cake shop recently featured on the Food Network; Waialua Soda Works, locally made premium sodas distributed nationally; North Shore Farm’s pizza, which amasses the longest lines at the Kapiolani Community College farmers’ market.

Not to mention nearly all of Oahu’s beloved food trucks, of which the “truck” is only one part of the equation. For many businesses, a stove on wheels is hardly enough space to prep plate lunches and clean equipment afterward. A kitchen incubator provides the rest of the facilities–as a sort of docking station for a fleet of food trucks.

Read the rest: http://honoluluweekly.com/restaurants/2010/07/shared-dreams/

Market Forces: Mercado de la Raza and India Market

I’m at Mercado de la Raza, the Latin American grocery store, trying to find the right blend of chiles to make the mole that Rick Bayless used to win Top Chef Masters, the one that Gail Simmons wants to bathe in. The owner of the shop, Martha Sanchez, is not particularly amused by my teeny quantities of some 30 ingredients…she is not the type to be climbing into a mole bath with Ms. Simmons.


Q&A with Charles Phan, The Slanted Door

Charles Phan opened the original The Slanted Door in San Francisco’s Mission district–it has since moved to a more expansive location in the Ferry Building– in 1995. While Phan drew inspiration from other Bay Area restaurants’ food philosophies, he broke new ground in giving Vietnamese food a modern, upscale setting. As a finalist for the James Beard Outstanding Chef Award, Phan is in town for a Hale ‘Aina ‘Ohana cooking demonstration on Vietnamese cuisine, followed by a demo and reception at the Halekulani on Friday.

The rest: http://honoluluweekly.com/restaurants/2010/03/behind-the-green-door/

Better eating through chemistry

It’s a new year and Michael Pollan’s already got a new book of rules that expound on his edict to “eat food” (as opposed to food-like substances). But those unfamiliar and unprounceable ingredients he would have us shy away from? A handful of chefs and bartenders in Honolulu are deliberately mixing tapioca maltodextrin, sodium alginate and xantham gum into their food and drinks, and they’re having a hell of a lot of fun doing it. They’re experimenting with a style most widely known as molecular gastronomy–sometimes also termed “postmodern” or “hypermodern” cuisine–in which they play chemist with a pantry of powders and nifty gadgets to alter the form, textures and flavors of the familiar. Many of their powders originated in the industrialized food world to help create Chicken McNuggets and Cheetos (aka the stuff you’re trying to avoid this new year), but now they’re finding their way to a few of Honolulu’s high-end restaurants by way of temples of hypermodern cuisine like El Bulli in Spain and Alinea in Chicago.


Kitchen mates

For those who profess to be hopeless cooks or find kitchen work tedious, there’s inspiration to be found in a certain culinary course on the Windward side.

“Before, I thought cooking was boring,” says Joanne Liupaono. “I never wanted to learn anything about the kitchen. But now my whole perspective has changed. I really enjoy it, for real. It took me a long time to figure out what I really wanted to do in life. I think this is something I want to do.”

The rest: http://honoluluweekly.com/restaurants/2009/12/kitchen-mates/

Chef under chef

Kevin Chong, Lindsey Ozawa, Wade Ueoka. Their names may be unfamiliar, but these cooks helm three of Honolulu’s most recognizable restaurants in upscale dining: Chef Mavro, Nobu and Alan Wong’s, respectively. In this era of celebrity chefs, the relative anonymity of this trio attests to the real world of cooking: a job with long, anti-social hours, hot, physical work with little fame or money attached.