Hawaii was fusion before fusion was cool.
It’s long been a way of life on the Hawaiian Islands, which sit at the midway between East and West and showcase a truly multicultural society.
Hawaiian locals have long used native styles to complement and blend with the indigenous cuisine.
“I blend a lot of styles,” said Oahu native Lyndon Honda, executive chef at Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa. “Hawaii’s been doing that fusion cuisine since the turn of the [last] century.
“It’s not all about pineapples and papayas; now all these name chefs are cooking really good food and product right here from Hawaii,” he added.
Indeed, Hawaii has seen a renaissance of sorts in its fine-dining scene over the past decade or so.
“Fifteen years ago the food scene, even on Oahu, wasn’t as big as it is now,” Honda said. “In the last five years there’s been a big push on Maui and Oahu as well in the culinary scene.”
Local farmers are also getting in on the act.
“Within the last few years a lot of farmers have really been stepping up,” Honda said, adding that a new generation of back-to-the-landers are paying forward on the traditional aloha spirit.
[Featured Recipe: Mojo Verde Tofu by Chef Lyndon Honda]
“There are a lot of Millennials who want to farm,” he added. “Way back when everyone grew their own product and traded and bartered. Everyone helps each other—it’s one big ohana [family].”
This blossoming of the small local farm scene is helping fill in the gap on some of the ingredients, such as fresh tomatoes, that were once hard to come by.
“First we flag[ged] down the plane and then we [swam] out to get it and then we start[ed] cooking,” Honda joked about the old days. Kidding aside, Honda, who leads the property’s banquet and catering operations as well as five on-site food and beverage outlets, is adept at the wide range of cuisines.
This expertise is demanded by a resort of the Sheraton’s stature, including Pacific Rim and Hawaii regional cuisines, French, Japanese, Mediterranean, Italian, Thai, Filipino and others.
“For me, being from Hawaii, we get so inundated with the same-old, same-old thing,” Honda, who opened numerous restaurants and owned his own event catering company before coming to the Sheraton in May 2017, said. “I wanted to do something different and challenge myself.
My forte has been providing a global menu, and if guests are doing seven or eight meals at the resort, they can’t do Hawaiian regional cuisine for every meal because it will start tasting the same,” he added.
It’s all about showcasing global influences with local cuisine—Hawaiian cuisine informed by my global influences over the years,” Honda concluded.
Group Offerings at Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa
A very popular group banquet and reception option at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa is the Ocean Lawn, which offers 12,000 square feet of oceanfront event space—the largest in Kaanapali—perfect for sit-down dinners, luaus or a beach barbecue.
The resort, which completed a $26.5 million renovation of its 508 guest rooms and suites in July 2018, opened the new signature ROCKsalt restaurant in June 2018, specializing in globally inspired share plates and Hawaii-grown ingredients.
And on a sustainable note, Honda said the resort is particularly proud of being the first hotel in Hawaii, in August 2017, to eliminate single-use plastic straws.
The move has resulted in 330,000 straws not being sent to the landfill.
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