Chances are you don’t think about Maui’s invasive plant speacies. But Grand Wailea’s chef, Mike Lofaro, does – and he’s approaching the issue in a very unique and innovative way.
This recent article in the Robb Report captured it well in the headline:
This Chef Is Trying to Help Hawaii Eat Its Way Out of an Ecological Threat
The best way to solve the problem of invasive species may be to make them delicious.
Lofaro, named Maui’s “Chef of the Year” in 2016, has always been a champion of finding innovative ways to live off the land. The concept of his Emmy-winning “Search Hawaii” show—which also ran in 2016—featured him and Grand Wailea’s cultural ambassador, Kainoa Horcajo, traveling through Hawaii to unearth ingredients found in nature and create meals based on the Hawaiian lunar calendar and local culture.
The delicious result of this research (and the discovery of wild foods pioneers Vince Dodge and Sunny Savage) is that guests will now find these local treats on the menu and can help address the issue of invasive species:
Waianae Gold – gluten-free flour made from kiawe wood
Strawberry Guava – ubiquitous trees across Maui
Nasturtium and wild fennel – found island-wide
New Zealand spinach (grows in abundance along the shoreline)