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…march 26, 2012…

On March 26, 2012, I prepared a five-course dinner at Prima Restaurant in Kailua, HI. I spoke with the chefs of the restaurant, Alejandro Briceno and Lindsey Ozawa, two weeks prior and began to sketch a plan for the meal. It was my intention to create dishes that would stimulate people into further invention and innovation. Many ideas were brought up in those two weeks, and I am hopeful that many more will surface in the future. As the day of the dinner came closer in time, I realized I had too many ideas for just five courses. New dishes, some small bites, some complex platings with a dozen components; the number grew to 11 different items that I wanted to serve that night. Some of the dishes focused on using new ingredients, others on reworking classic recipes with local, Hawaiian flavors. I wanted to reexamine serving vessels, and so I created some dishes from items at the hardware store. I also wanted to reassess where one could get the raw materials for a dinner. Many of the vegetables and garnishes, which might be expensive micro-greens at a modern restaurant, were actually flowers, shoots, and weeds from the hills above Honolulu. Some of the base materials, like ricotta cheese, hams, and breads were made in house. The one cohesive element for the dinner was to stimulate a culinary conversation. Each dish had an idea, or several ideas, worked into it to be touched upon at a later date. I hope others in the community present their own ideas and projects, both successes and failures, so that we may all learn and grow. This dinner was a way for me to pose a question to the people I have worked beside. Presented here is a catalogue for that dinner.

Un piccolo aperitivo‌..

Terrina di fegato di maiale fegato di maiale 900 g lardo di maiale 450 g panna 100 g brodo di prosciutto 100g uova 6 ogni sale 30g pepe nero 30g coriandolo 15g Pulire il fegato e tagliate a cubetti. Saltate i dadini con le spezie e lasciare riposare una notte. Riscaldare il brodo e panna, lardo. Scottare il fegato con leggerezza, e pure con il liquido. Aggiungere le uova, una alla volta, e poi ceppo. Cuocere il composto a bagnomaria fino al centro è ferma.

Croquant di cacao Zucchero, 50g Latte, 10g Burro, 80g sciroppo di glucosio, 25g polvere di cacao, 15g Cacao semi, 45g Unire lo zucchero, il latte, il burro, e lo sciroppo in un piccolo vaso. Portare a bollore e cuocere a 110 gradi celcius. Togliere dal fuoco e mescolare il cacao in polvere e semi di cacao. Pour su un rotolo pergamenaceo e molto sottile. Cuocere in forno caldo fino a ribollire. Taglio a misura mentre ancora caldo.

oxalis debilis, Limnophila aromatica, Psophocarpus tetragonolobus

FLOWERS AND HERBS It is becoming common to see chefs creating dishes based solely on vegetables gathered from their own backyards. Many cite influence from Chef Michel Bras and his dish gargouillou. At its most simple, it is a dish of composed vegetables. At its most complex, it is a sculpture garden of over 60 herbs, leaves, roots, bulbs, and flowers. For this dish, mint and basil were accented with locally gathered oxalis, vervain, knotweed, and ohi’a. Many of these plants were found near Wiliwilinui and Kalawahine.

PUFFED BEEF TENDON Any connective tissue can be fried into a crispy puff. Skin, tendon, feet, bladder. The key is to cook the tissue very tender, then carefully dehydrate, and finally heat very hot very quickly. Here, beef tendon was braised in soy, star anise, and cinnamon, then chilled and sliced thin. This was placed in a dehydrator overnight before being fried in smoking hot grape seed oil.

ANDRADE RANCH The beef for the tartare was provided by Bob McGee and The Whole Ox Butcher, who receives his beef from the Kauai Beef Company of Andrade Ranch. Started in 1886, the cattle from the ranch are raised without hormone treatment or antibiotics, and live free-range on a 100% grass diet. The beef is dried aged on the ranch for two weeks, before being shipped to the Whole Ox, where it is dried aged further. For this dish, we hand chopped the tenderloin before mixing it with chile tapioca, nuoc cham gelee, mint and shallots.

For this dinner, I decided I wanted to do a pasta course. It seemed logical enough, perhaps even a little predictable. My problem was I wanted the plating to be more than a simple tangle of noodles. I wanted to see if we could combine a more complex plating with the simplicity of lightly dressed pasta. We used the sheets of pasta as a blank canvas, and worked up from there. The flavors and techniques were fairly traditional: yolk-rich pasta dough, carefully made creamy ricotta (although kiawe smoked), glazed asparagus and ho’io, crispy rendered ham. To make things slightly more interesting, we kept the ravioli as a single sheet and treated it as a large pappardelle noodle. The ravioli filling was a house made ricotta, folded with a ho’io puree, and lightly smoked. The pasta was dressed with a rich emulsion made from a roasted ham stock mounted with butter and rendered lard. We finished the dish with a bright tasting parsley puree, crispy ham crumble, and glazed asparagus and ho’io. While I admit it is probably not smart to experiment with new ideas when trying to pick up 30 plates all at once, I feel this technique has more potential in the future and I look forward to others playing with similar presentations

The asparagus was trimmed in a style I learned at Jean Georges. Each stalk is marked at the same length from the tip. A ridge is cut, then the stalks are tourneed to the base. Tedious, but pretty

The ricotta was made from 1000g heavy cream, 3000g whole milk, 50g salt, and 200g white wine vinegar. Heat the milk and cream to 165°F. Remove from the heat, stir in salt and vinegar, and let curdle. Carefully strain overnight, then smoke over kiawe wood for 20 minutes.

The ho’io for this plate was gathered by Mark Noguchi. He always seems to know where to get the right ingredients from the island.

Part of the ham garnish was jamon iberico, sliced thin and baked until crispy. The other garnish was a small dice of Malama pork fat back, rendered into a crispy, salty crumble.

The problem with the pasta for this dish was it needed to be strong enough to hold the filling, but tender enough to eat in a thick sheet. We went heavy on the egg yolks, with a small amount of whites to added for protein and strength.

something crunchy When creating a dessert, one usually takes textures into account as well as flavors. A lot of thought goes into making sure that soft and creamy textures are balanced with crunchy and crispy textures. Far too often this thought process is not utilized when creating an entrÊe. For this dish, I wanted to see how one could add a crunchy element to a dish of rich and earthy flavors. In the pastry shop, desserts often use crumbles, streusels, and granola. For this dish of opah and roasted cauliflower, I made a spiced granola using a variety of grains, nuts, and seeds. Brown rice was cooked, dried overnight, and then puffed in hot oil. Quinoa was dry roasted until it popped. Locally grown squash seeds were cleaned, blanched, husked, and finally dry roasted. Foraged sea almonds (terminalia catappa) were collected, split, and pan roasted. These ingredients were mixed with palm sugar and oil, salt, cumin, allspice, and piment d’espelette. This mixture was then slowly baked until golden and crisp. There are countless variations here, both as a granola, and also as a textural component. I would be interested to see more use of crumbles, brittles, and streusels in the future.

Spherification vs. Sferification Yogurt sferes Milk Cream Yogurt Honey Calcium gluco lactinate

350g 350g 300g 225g 10g

Bath Typically, a 1% calcium alginate bath, kept around 60C. Oven Poached Rhubarb Sugar Water Cardamom Pods Vanilla Beans Rhubarb, small dice

300g 500g 5 each 2 each 450g

Plating I wanted to use a small bowl or spoon to present the one bite dessert. The problem was that the restaurant had neither the right bowls, nor did they possess anything similar to a porcelain soupspoon. What they did have were typical, stainless steel large tablespoons. The problem was the bowl of the spoon would rest at the wrong angle while sitting on the plate. The solution was simple, and open to better variations in the future. And small riser was cut to lift the handle of the spoon 1 3/4 inches. We would like to cut a beveled channel into the top of the wood next time so that the stem of the spoon fits exactly into place.

Creeping thyme, pink chintz (thymus praecox)


Alejandro Briceno, of Prima Restaurant, really wanted me to make a baba au

rhum. It’s a classic, but one you don’t find as often as I’d like. For a state that has such a thriving rum industry, I’m surprised I don’t see this dessert on every menu.

um au rh

dough Water


Dry yeast




Flour, all-purpose





4 each

Vanilla Bean, scraped

1 each

Butter, melted


Combine all ingredients in a mixer, in order. Blend with dough hook until smooth dough is formed, around 8 minutes. Proof on the counter until doubled in volume. Punch down and divide into 40g balls. Proof the balls in heavily buttered baba molds. Bake at 325°F until golden,

syrup Water




Rum, gold


Vanilla bean, scraped

1 each

Zest of orange

1 each

Zest of lemon

1 each

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Allow to cool at room temperature

around 15 minutes. Immediately remove from molds and pierce multiple times with a cake tester (this is to allow the syrup to penetrate.) Carefully place in the

Split each baba in half. Place in shallow bowl with additional

bath while warm and allow to

syrup. Top with lightly whipped cream, fruits and berries.

soak for at least 30 minutes. (we used compressed papaya, candied ulu, and variegated viola)

chocolate pudding and potato chips If there is one chemical from the “modernist� pantry that I would recommend to any kitchen, it is kappa carrageenan. Other thickeners, like xanthan gum, can be mimicked by more conventional thickeners. Foaming agents like versawhip can be entertaining, but they have limited applications. But carrageenans is unique and can be used for a variety of textures. Carrageenan can be found in kappa, iota, and lambda types, all of which have different properties. Kappa carrageenan creates quick forming gel that can be remelted and reset at low temperatures. Kappa works best in products that have some amount of calcium, but it is not entirely necessary. SOFT CHOCOLATE GEL Cream Chocolate, 64% Sugar Water Locust bean gum Carrageen, kappa

530g 500g 120g 600g 1.6g 1.6g

Melt the first three ingredients together. Burr mix and boil the last three ingredients. Combine and keep warm. Set as needed. Chocolate Soba Streusel AP Flour Almond Flour Soba Flour Brown Sugar Egg Butter Melted 10 X sugar Cocoa

210g 80g 20g 80g 1 ea. 140g tt tt

Kappa can form very strong gels, but on occasion these gels can begin to weep. Adding locust bean gum (LBG) can help alleviate this problem. One does need much of this mixture to set liquids. Typical usage is .75% to 1% in water, and .35% to .5% in milk. For this dessert, I made a dark chocolate ganache that was hot liquid when we started plating. As we laid down the other parts of the dessert- soba streusel, caramel ice cream, russet and purple sweet potato chips- the chocolate had set along the edges. When reaching the customer, the dessert had become a perfect disc of chocolate pudding, set on the sides and warm and liquid in the center. Caramel Ice Cream Sugar Milk Cream Glucose Trimoline Sugar Yolks Salt Van X

900g 3000g 3000g 300g 150g 400g 1360g 5g 10g

In my opinion, the best way to end any meal is with doughnuts and marshmallows. A big bowl of either arriving to the table always brings smiles. For this dinner, I decided to emphasize them with lighter flavors, and so the marshmallows were embellished with Fernet Branca, while the doughnuts were made with bergamot and Earl Grey tea. Digestifs and petit fours combined.

Guimauve Corn syrup, 75g Sugar, 900g Fernet branca, 250g Gelatin, 20 sheets Egg whites, 600g Combine the corn syrup, sugar, and Fernet in a medium pot. Place over a medium high flame and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, bloom the gelatin and begin whipping the egg whites in a large mixer. Continue cooking the sugar mixture to 165°C. Immediately remove from heat and quickly stir in the gelatin. Quickly and efficiently, pour the sugar mixture into the whipping whites. Increase the speed to high and whip cool. Spread onto a plastic lined sheet tray and allow mixture to form a skin. Dust with potato starch, invert, and repeat with the other side. Cut to size, using additional potato starch as needed.

G U I M A U V E BERLINERPFANNKUCHEN Berliner Pfannkuchen Eggs, 4 ea. Dry Yeast, 20g Milk, 200g Sugar, 140g All purpose flour, 700g Salt, 3g Ground earl grey tea, 15g Bergamot zest, 3g Butter, melted, 130g Combine all the ingredients into the bowl of a mixer, in order. Mix using a dough hook until smooth and supple, around 10 minutes. Allow to bench proof for 1 hour, then punch down and roll ¾” thick on a floured service. Cut to size and fry in 350F oil until golden. Toss in sugar flavored with additional tea and bergamot.

One of my favorite parts of planning this dinner was collecting plants from around the island. There is a huge amount of edible plant life easily found within 5 miles of Honolulu.

A quick hike into the hill can easily yield enough greens for a night of service. Many of these species are invasive to Hawaii, and because of the climate here many of them can be found year round.

When gathering, one should heed several precautions. One should avoid foraging on protected and private land. One should avoid gathering in lowlands after heavy rainfall. And most importantly, one must always be sure what one is picking.

There are many great reference materials one can use when foraging, the best being people who have walked the hills for years. For print material, I like "A Pocket Guide to Hawaii's Plants and Shrubs" by H. Douglas Pratt and "A Hiker's Guide to Trailside Plants in Hawaii" by John B. Hall

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A Note on the Service Pieces… In the kitchen, we spend a great deal of time considering so many variables. The highest quality raw materials; innovative technology to cook with; artistic flourishes to complete the presentation. But when it comes to what we actually plate our food on, most of us do not have the freedom to dictate what we truly want.

One must consider the quality of ingredients and the level of technique when cooking; but I feel a great chef should reflect upon all aspects of the diner’s experience. The plate is the frame to the artwork we craft. It is the foundation for the structure we build for the customer. It is a part of the dining experience that goes along with the small details in the dining room. How bright are the lights in the dining room? What music is playing? What is on the table when the guests first arrive? By creating a local community of

craftsmen who are able to create custom service ware locally, we can combat many issues that occur in restaurants. Too often I will design a dessert that works especially well for a specific plate or bowl, only to find several months down the road that all but 3 of those plates have broken or disappeared. Durable, replaceable, locally sourced service ware would make chefs and restaurateurs less dependent on the proverbial slow boat coming from the main land. And more importantly, it can open up a whole new world of creativity when cooking. Wood is only one material that is available. In the future, I hope to utilize ceramics, glass, metals, and fibers for custom-made plates and bowls. I also look forward to bending the expectations of what is considered a “traditional” piece of service ware. Δ

A Guide to Non-Toxic Wood Finishes Pure tung oil. Extracted from the nut of the china wood tree. Used as a base in many blended finishes. Available from catalogs and hardware stores. Difficult to apply, requires many coats, good waterresistance. Raw linseed oil. Pressed from flax seeds. Not to be confused with boiled linseed, which contains metallic driers. Listed as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Very long curing time, good looks, low water-resistance, frequent reapplication. Mineral oil. Although derived from petroleum, it is colorless, odorless, tasteless and entirely inert. Sold as a laxative in drug stores and as a wood finish in hardware and kitchensupply stores. Simple to apply, low water resistance, frequent reapplication. Walnut oil. Pressed from the nuts of the walnut tree. Sold as a salad oil in health food stores and in large grocery stores. Walnut oil dries and won't go rancid. Easy to apply, frequent reapplication. Beeswax. The work of the honey bee. Can be mixed with an oil to create a better-smelling, slightly more waterrepellent finish. Sold in woodworking and turning catalogs. Carnauba wax. Derived from the Brazilian palm tree. Harder than beeswax and more water-resistant. Can be used straight on woodenware as a light protective coating or a topcoat polish. Sold in woodworking and turning catalogs. Shellac. A secretion from the lac bug. Harvested in India. Super blond shellac in flake form is the most water-resistant variety. A filmforming finish. Sold in woodworking catalogs and hardware and art supply stores.

Thank you to Lindsey, Aker, and the entire staff of Prima for helping make this dinner possible. I hope we have more collaboration in the future. Thanks to Blaine for all his help in fabricating and crafting non-edible items. And thanks to Bob at the Whole Ox and Shawn, and anyone else who was hanging out and let me bounce ideas off of them

Usable Trim  

An appendix to accompany a dinner cooked at Prima Kailua, on March 26, 2012

Usable Trim  

An appendix to accompany a dinner cooked at Prima Kailua, on March 26, 2012