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Eating Well at the Edge of the World

Mauka Makai at The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas
Mauka Makai at The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

Hawaii is home to some of the most creative chefs in the world, and they're reinventing foodie culture.


In the Hawaiian Spirit. Above: Wine pours at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

Hotel restaurants were once only good for breakfast and room service. Fast-forward to 2018, and some of the best restaurants in the world are now inside top hotels around the globe. The islands of Hawaii are witnessing this hotel restaurant revolution, with Maui leading the way. Here are some of our favorite food finds in paradise:


Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, recently announced the completion of a renovation to its signature restaurant, the 25-year-old Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (Humuhumu, for short, named after Hawaii's colorful triggerfish). Representing the latest phase of a $70 million resort refresh, Humuhumu now delights a whole new generation of guests with star chef Mike Lofaro's signature modern Hawaii seasonal cuisine.


The delicious Hawaiian Ahi Tartare at Humuhumu restaurant, at Grand Wailea.

Recently named Man of the Moment by Modern Luxury: Hawaii, Lofaro has earned his reputation as the island's best top chef. He's completely revamped the culturally conscious menu with an emphasis on sustainably harvested fish and meat entrees, tying together traditional Hawaiian concepts with his signature artistry. Try and snag a reservation at the coveted Table 70 with its secluded setting over the lagoon. The reservation comes with a VIP experience to a specially curated tasting menu of Chef Lofaro's favorite dishes.


The Lemongrass Coconut Broth at Ko Restaurant


Fairmont Kea Lani's signature restaurant Ko offers award-winning cuisine inspired by the vast collection of ethnicities brought together during Maui's sugarcane plantation era. With a menu inspired from the kitchens of the chefs' tutus and aunties, a dining experience here is like tasting generations of local cuisine rooted in the island's culture and history. Try the 'Ohana platter feature, Kobe Beef Poke, or taste the Honey Lavender Macadamia Nut Shrimp or Crispy Oishi Sushi. Fresh salads showcase the bounty of upcountry Maui farms, including pohole ferns, hearts of palm, and more. With over 90 percent of fish, beef, and produce sourced locally, the flavors are as authentic as they are sustainable.


The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, a new resort situated on North Ka'anapali Beach, recently introduced its signature restaurant, Mauka Makai, which honors the farming and fishing cultures of ancient Hawaii with contemporary flair. Executive chef Ikaika Manaku was inspired by the ancient Hawaiian way of life and thoughtfully designed a menu with fresh, local ingredients sourced from mountain to sea. The restaurant's featured dishes include pork and ahi with Maui onion jam, Yamasa caramel, and Sriracha honey; smoked Tako with Pohole fern sprouts, Kula tomatoes, Maui onion and blue ginger; and a Pohaku Natural Prime Ribeye, served on a hot stone that finishes cooking at the table.

The resort and restaurant also introduced In the Spirit -- a monthly event celebrating local agriculture and cuisine. This series features specialty food and handcrafted cocktails designed by the restaurant's expert mixologists in a fun, social setting with live music.


Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa's Black Rock Kitchen is the place for family and friends to gather, share great food, and talk. Hawaiian culture emphasizes the importance of 'ohana and 'aina, and the fresh menu selections at Black Rock Kitchen incorporate these concepts in every dish. A locally inspired menu offers a variety of selections from tapas and shared plates.


Shrimp with Corn Tamale, served at Black Rock Kitchen.

Executive chef Lyndon Honda spearheads the operations and comes with more than 25 years experience in the culinary industry. He has a global approach to food, taking inspiration from an array of cultures and cuisines, including Pacific Rim and Hawaii regional cuisines as well as Italian, French, Japanese, Mediterranean, Thai, Filipino, and more. Executive sous-chef Chris Lederer was born and raised on Oahu and has been cooking in high-end restaurants since he was 17. He brings a passion for Pacific Rim and Hawaii regional cuisine and is an advocate for utilizing locally sourced products whenever possible. Together, they are transforming the kitchens at the Sheraton Maui and delighting guests with every bite.


Hawaii's first and only Relais & Chateaux restaurant, The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea, offers inspired elegance infused with creative island-to-table cuisine. The seafood-centric menu is created around what is readily available from Maui's own farms and fishermen, ensuring that each dish is prepared using only the finest local, seasonal, and artisanal products -- including those grown in the restaurant's own garden and farming operation.

Hotel Wailea's chef de cuisine Zach Sato, a Maui native, has an inimitable passion for showcasing the history and culture of the islands and does so by working with generations of flavors, both present and past. Chef Sato utilizes seasonal, island-grown offerings and ingredients from the hotel's farming operation, and has forged and fostered close relationships with Hawaii's farmers and artisans -- a favorite is the Big Island staple Hirabara Farms, with which he works closely to craft season-driven dishes.

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