Baskets To Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Elizabeth Hata-Watanabe calls herself “the accidental baker.” But if it was an accident, it certainly was a happy one: Hata-Watanabe now runs Hauté Confectionery Boutique, which sells wholesale to local businesses, such as Hilo Hattie and Honolulu Gourmet Foods, and also provides specialty gift baskets.

“It’s something I kind of stumbled upon,” she explains.

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Elizabeth Hata-Watanabe rolling her signature dough

While she loved staying at home with her kids, she needed something to occupy her time.

“So, I started making soaps, I started baking — I started doing anything I could while I was at home,” she recalls. “And baking was something that I enjoyed.”

Many of Hauté’s products feature island-inspired flavors or themes.

“What better products to use than locally grown and manufactured products?” she says. “They’re fresh, they support our own local economy and it’s indicative of our island.”

Using such products, Hata-Watanabe draws a lot of her ideas from her childhood.

“A lot of these are the classic things that you had growing up — but with a twist,” she explains. “So now your chocolate chip cookie has macadamia nuts. And with the mochi crunchie — we all grew up loving kakimochi, right? Well, who would have thought that you would have put it into a shortbread cookie?”

These treats are available in concierge gift basket services, starting with the Signature basket at $20, which features chocolate chip cookies, chewy coconut shortbread cookies and mochi crunchies. Other baskets also include pancake mix, campfire cookies (which have marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers) and other seasonal items. Hauté also custom makes tiramisu, specialty cheesecake, cake pops, macaroons and more.

While Hauté is a new venture — it launched last year — Hata-Watanabe herself is a serial entrepreneur. She previously owned O Lounge nightclub, which also served food, and later, Harbor Court Bistro. (Both have since closed.)

After all, a love for food and a knack for business run in the family. Hata-Watanabe, of the Y. Hata family, credits her love of the food industry to her upbringing. And it’s sweets, in particular, that she’s always loved. She has fond memories of her grandfather bringing home candy from the Y. Hata warehouse, and she admits to occasionally eating dessert before dinner.

While Hata-Watanabe creates products that capture things she loved as a child, much of her culinary creativity can be traced to her children.

“A lot of my inspiration comes from making things for my own children,” she says, adding that her kids have a very “seasoned palate.” “They are my inspiration — I find things that they like and then I try to build on that.”

For more information, visit hauteconfectioneryboutique.com.

coconnor@midweek.com