Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hopping from 'Table to Farm' with Sheraton Waikiki's Colin Hazama

Nadine Kam photos
Chef Colin Hazama joined Ho Farms’ Shin Ho in welcoming diners for a two-part, two-day culinary adventure that took them from the Sheraton Waikiki to the North Shore farm. A clearing was made where long beans grow to make room for a picnic tent and table and cooking demo.

Sheraton Waikiki launched its ambitious new Table to Farm wine dinner and farm tour series last weekend, an event that started Friday night with a dinner crafted by Sheraton Waikiki executive sous chef Colin Hazama, followed by an optional excursion to Ho Farms the following day to see where and how the meal was sourced.

For a memorable culinary and mini travel experience, it is well worth the $170 to $200 (with wine pairings) cost and two-day commitment.

“There’s nothing that connects you more to the people and a culture than food,” said Food and Beverage Director Brian Hunnings, noting the Sheraton’s obligation as a visitor-oriented company. “Supporting local and doing the right thing is so important to us, and to do that we have to do things that are not necessarily easy.”

The oceanview setting at the Sheraton’s Edge of Waikiki infinity pool.

There were many details involved in bringing the event out of the dining room and into the outdoors at the Sheraton’s Edge of Waikiki, where a pink-purple sunset was the backdrop for an elegant, veggie-filled meal. There were vans to rent for the tour the following day, and a clearing was made on Ho Farms for setting up the tent and tables for a picnic lunch set in a field where long beans grow.

For Hazama, it was important to show the work farmers do because most people are so far removed from the land. Bringing them to the farm might help everyone become better stewards of the land.

Just 100 years ago, most people were living off the land, whether by fishing, farming or maintaining an ample backyard garden. Modernization changed everything, but slowly, people are waking up to the idea that some of the old ways are better for our health and well-being, as well as the planet.

Hazama has worked with Ho Farms since 2008, requesting items apart from the tomatoes, cucumbers and Japanese eggplant that are its staple crops. Some of the specialty items he requests for the Sheraton Waikiki are spring onions, cilantro flowers and rainbow chard.

Here’s a look at both farm and table:

Friday night’s meal started with vodka-cured kampachi with white soy dashi gelee, finger lime caviar, shaved watermelon radish, Ho Farms pickled baby carrots, and lemon basil pesto, accompanied by NV Canella Prosecco, Veneto.

A “Taste of Ho Farms Salad” showcased Ho Farms pearl onions, golden Kahuku and currant tomato gelee, butternut squash, deep-fried heirloom okra, long beans, and preserved Meyer lemon mustard vinaigrette. I love the intense tomato flavor of the gelee! This was served with 2012 Fantini Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Abruzzo.

Fish ’n’ Chips got healthier with the Kona Brewing beer-battered onaga accompanied by Ho Farms Chinese long bean “fries,” along with housemade pickles, calamansi lime pickle vinegar and Ho Farms pomegranate beet ketchup. It was paired with 2012 Jermann Pinot Grigio, Collio.

Next, cassava-crusted Kauai shrimp was served with spiced butternut squash gnocchi, applewood smoked Ho Farms swiss chard, Wailea hearts of palm and Ho Farms baby cucumber pickled mustarda, and garlic yuzu crema. This was accompanied by 2013 Santadi Villa Solais Vermentino, Sardegna.

We finished with a slice of Big Island Meyer kemon goat cheesecake with dark chocolate aubergine truffle, Kula strawberry, and Ho Farms ice cream banana confiture. No one could have guessed that there was creamy eggplant inside the chocolate! This was paired with NV Canella Bellini, Veneto.

On the farm:

We were allowed to taste the fresh produce out in the Ho Farms fields, including flavorful cilantro flowers, that most of us had left on the plate during the previous evening’s dinner, when we thought of it as an inedible garnish. Now, those of us who love cilantro love it!

Photographing tomatoes before they are packed for supermarkets.

Third-generation farmer Shin Ho shows the cucumber seedlings.

 During a cooking demonstration, Colin showed the one-year, house-cured prosciutto lardons that he later sautéed with kale and shimeji mushrooms to top the chilled Ho Farms butternut squash soup we enjoyed for lunch.

Everyone wanted seconds of the delicious soup, also finished with a swirl of Ho Farms coriander crema.

The rest of our picnic lunch came packed in metal lunch boxes. Tour-goers Ethan, Kailee and Tammie Chang show their lunch boxes.

Tucked inside the lunch box was a three-pepper Muscovy duck prosciutto sandwich, with small jars of Ho Farms pickles and pomegranate-beet ketchup we could enjoy on the spot or later at home. There was also a container of shichimi-dusted tapioca puffs that I had taken out.

After leaving the farm, we made a detour to Kahuku Superette, where chef Hazama had to introduce us to one of his favorite guilty pleasures, crisp, garlicky shell-on opae poke. Yums! No garans this pitstop will be part of future tours.

The Table to Farm Series will continue into 2015; each event will be held in partnership with a different farm, including a trek to the Big Island. Reservations are being taken for the next event, when Hazama will partner with Naked Cow Dairy.

Dinner is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 5 at Edge of Waikiki, followed by a 10 a.m. meeting time on Dec. 6 at Aloha Landing for a farm tour. Guests will return from Naked Cow Dairy at approximately 3 p.m.

The Dec. 5 collaboration dinner will feature chefs Hazama and Brett Villarmia executing a menu that will feature brown butter-seared Naked Cow Dairy halloumi, black cardamom-spiced scallops with lavender Naked Cow Dairy buttermilk, garlic- and herb-roasted Colorado lamb Loin with micro-mint Naked Cow labne and pomegranate-pink peppercorn Naked Cow honey butter, an artisanal cheese tasting, and dessert of cookies and milk, including spiced toasted Naked Cow coconut butter shortbread and smoked Hawaiian sea salt caramel leche.

Dinner only is $103 per person ($133 with wine pairings); dinner and the farm tour is $170 per person ($200 with wine pairings). Prices include transportation to Naked Cow Dairy, tax and gratuity. Call (808) 921-4600 or visit for reservations.

The hotel also offers a special room rate for Table to Farm guests. Call (808) 921-4610 and request the “Farm Tour” rate.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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