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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

Mavro’s Pastry Chef Springs Into Action

Whether meant or not, Chef Mavro is becoming an alma mater for some pretty impressive chefs.

Just a few of the “graduates” in the past 10 years are Kevin Chong (Aulani), Mark Noguchi (Heeia Pier and Sweet Home Waimanalo), and Andrew Le (The Pig and The Lady).

So it’s perhaps no coincidence that pastry chef Lynette Pflueger headed to the South King Street restaurant when she arrived in the Islands to further her fine-dining career.

“I knew I wanted to work with a James Beard award-winning chef,” says Pflueger (who is no relation to the Honolulu auto family), “and I had heard that Chef Mavro is the kind of chef who enjoys teaching and encouraging young people.”

Pflueger, who hails from Spokane, Wash., might be one of the youngest chefs on Chef Mavro’s team, but she’s already making waves in the kitchen.

From inspired desserts using locally sourced ingredients (candied kaffir lime leaves, anyone?) to heavenly brioche and daily breads, it’s clear that Chef Mavro has found himself yet another bright, creative culinary star.

And, as the only vegetarian in the kitchen, she’s been adding her share of ideas to what may be the city’s most elegant vegetarian menu.

“Chef asked for my input,” she says. “It’s quite frustrating to go out to restaurants and see the limited vegetarian and vegan options that are out there. So it’s really exciting that Chef Mavro has this wonderful spring vegetarian menu.”

From maitake mushrooms with salsify, braised kabocha and Maui onion shavings topped with a yuzu dressing, to quinoa pilaf with eggplant fritter and jumbo asparagus tips, through sides like green mango chutney flavored with ginger, Kahuku corn, shiso tempura and a curry sauce, the vegetarian menu offers meatless eaters the opportunity to dine on complex dishes – and locally sourced produce. And, as with Chef Mavro’s regular menu, wine pairings are offered by the glass to accompany each course.

After completing her culinary arts degree, Pflueger had ideas of forming a catering company, but instead found herself drawn to the world of pastry.

“It’s different being a pastry chef,” she says. “I think because you pay so much attention to detail, it’s a different mindset. You go step by step, and after each one there’s something that’s supposed to happen. If it doesn’t, you know immediately you are wrong. But if each step goes on the right track, it’s joyful!”

As we were talking, she scooped freshly made almond ice cream from a pristine mini ice cream maker. The finished dessert, a combination of fresh coconut mousse, calamansi cherry coulis and almond ice cream, appears on the menu as “Coconut Calamansi,” and while each part of it is delicious, it was the tiny slivers of candied kaffir lime leaves that made me think we have a truly talented new pastry chef in town. Thinly sliced, gently sugared and scattered atop a scoop of homespun ice cream, the power-packed lime and sugar bites were utterly addictive. If she ever opens a retail store they will sell by the bagful.

“I love looking at different ways to use local produce,” she says. Then she grins: “Chef Mavro just brought us some sapote from Frankie’s Nursery in Waimanalo, so I can’t wait to start experimenting with that.”

Diners at Chef Mavro are in for a treat. Vegetarian, vegans, dessert lovers and all.

To preview the new spring menu at Chef Mavro, go to chefmavro.com.

Happy eating!

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