There is clearly no doubt who inspired chefs at Maui’s Ritz-Carlton resort. Just in time for Mother’s Day, the culinary masters share stories of food from their childhoods that have inspired items on Sunday’s menu.
The offerings also reflect the ethnic diversity of the resort’s chefs. Some were raised in Hawaii, other in such far-flung places as Indiana and the Philippines.
Alvin Savella, the head chef at the resort’s Banyan Tree restaurant, is a Maui native whose cooking reflects the ocean’s bounty.
Savella’s Crispy Fried Hee — hee is Hawaiian for octopus — harks back to a family favorite: tentacles served poke-style (raw) dressed in ink from the creature’s sac. In his work kitchen, he chars the octopus and serves it with pohole ferns, Maui onions, tomato jam and a foam made from squid ink.
The executive sous-chef, who’s also a Maui native, is particularly proud of the offering he calls Mom’s Portuguese Bean Stew.
“My mom would cook this dish once a week in a large batch,” he said in a news release. “My friends and I would come home from surfing after school and just feast until we had full bellies and would fall asleep.”
The ingredients include ham hocks, Portuguese sausage (wildly popular in Hawaii), kidney beans and potatoes. Sniffen pointed out that a good ham hock stock, with its “slightly smoky signature flavor,” is the key to the stew’s success.
Daniel Schmidt, April Matsumoto and Michael Burman
Other chefs add their Mom-inspired favorites too.
Executive Chef Schmidt makes Konigsberger Klopse, which is a veal meatball dish. Chef Matsumoto, who grew up on a sheep farm in Indiana, prepares leg lamb roast. And chef Burman prepares his herb-roasted pork loin with three types of mushrooms, heavy cream and Gruyère cheese.
Burman’s child-to-chef story is particularly interesting. He learned to cook as a kid, and he pursued a career in culinary arts largely because his mother was not much of a cook.
“She could burn water, given the opportunity,” he said in the release.