I didn’t know how I was going to pull this off.
I was going to be flying back home from Okinawa, where I had been for a week, with only a couple of hours before jumping back on a plane to Maui.
But I had a good reason.
It was called Chef’s Table, an exclusive dining experience put on by Maui Executive Catering in Haʻikū, known for thoughtful, hyper-local dishes.
Here’s how it works: For $100, you feast on a prix fixe menu created and executed by executive chef Jeff Scheer, an alum of the Culinary Institute of America and chef instructor at the Maui Culinary Academy, right in his working commercial kitchen. Chef’s Table is held on Fridays and Saturdays and often features other notable chefs who collaborate on the menu and preparation. It seats up to 24 people — split between two rooms — with each course served on classic wood-topped tables with elegant dinner ware.
It’s fancy — but not stuffy.
Scheer prepping for dinner — right in front of you.
It’s a working commercial kitchen. I loved the ambiance.
I had heard about it through my dear friend, Tanya, a mother of three who returned to culinary school to perfect her already pretty perfect baking skills. (She comes from a family of bakers.) But after a couple of cooking classes — and learning under Scheer — she’s grown to really, really love cooking. She was so excited for us to fly to Maui and meet her mentor — how could we say no?
And after eating this meal, why would we ever?
On one side, the chefs are prepping dinner. Behind them, the diners sit and watch.
Scheer plating the charcuterie board course.
You get an up close look at all of the ingredients used for diner. This is the beef slab used in the sixth course.
Krista Garcia, formerly of The French Laundry, was the chef collaborator that night. We lucked out!
What I loved about the experience was actually watching these chefs work.
It’s not everyday you can get this behind-the-scenes look at what they do, how they prep and plate, what kinds of local ingredients they’re using. And with this event, you can get all of that — and you can even talk with them, take photos, whatever you want. For someone who’s into all aspects of food like me, this was awesome.
So here’s what we ate:
It started as all memorable meals often do: with an amuse-bouche. This was a tasty little pumpernickel macaron with sous vide radish and homemade butter. I could have just had this and left. It was that good.
The first course featured a local farm egg, done sous vide, with mustard ice cream and crispy onions. The egg held up — not runny, not hard — and that mustard ice cream was a game-changer. Talk about creative flavor combinations! This might have been my favorite dish of the night.
The second course showcased local taro, fried until crisp, with a goat cheese curd — also local — and blue oyster mushrooms.
Next up, the house chauterie board, so rustic and fun to share, with house-cured meats, goat cheese and tomatoes. But I have to say, I was blown away by terrine, a French forcemeat loaf similar to pâté. This one, though, was made with macadamia nuts and poha (cape gooseberry) berries. It was so good, my husband declared, “Ho, this Spam thing is mean!”
A close second favorite was this dish: the wild boar agnolotti swimming in tomato water flavored with sage and topped with whey foam. I’m still unsure how anything becomes foam, but this definitely worked.
The fifth dish was a bowl featuring a carrot puree dotted with a Kauaʻi shrimp — head on, of course — with tarragon and a forbidden rice cracker.
Next was this perfectly braised beef with alliums — a kind of onion — with zucchini. Tender and oozing with flavor.
And for the finale — and if we could get seconds, this is the dish I would have asked for — was Garcia’s masterful liliko‘i posset. A posset is a British hot drink of milk curdled with alcohol or citrus juice. It’s made a comeback recently as a dessert. And Garcia smartly used local passionfruit — love the tang — and adorned it with all things celery. Yes, celery. Like celery candy that my husband, who loathes the vegetable, ate as such. Super creative — and the flavors all worked.
So if you’re on Maui on a Friday or Saturday — and you’re looking for a unique dining experience — this is it. Truly one of my favorite dinners in Hawai‘i, if not for the creative flavors, for the lively atmosphere. And it helps we had great company, too.
Chef’s Table at Maui Executive Catering, 810 Kokomo Road, #150, Haʻikū, Maui. Cost is $100 per person. BYOB. Phone: (808) 575-9002. Next dinners are May 22 with Chef Krista Garcia, May 23 with Garcia presenting vegetarian courses, May 29 and May 30. Reservations highly recommended, if not required.
CAT: Hubby comment cracked me up!
Cat, you eat better than anyone I know of. I understand that there’s a professional connection to your dining, some of which is as informal as food-truck grub wrapped in paper, but when it comes to eating, you are living spectacularly well. Thanks for continuing to share words and pictures of your culinary adventures.