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Food & Dining // Heart-y Chef
Diana Helfand

Kai Market’s Island-style Cole Slaw

Sheraton Waikiki’s Kai Market executive chef Darren Demaya

Darren Demaya is the new executive chef of Sheraton Waikiki’s latest fresh-from-the-farm concept: Kai Market, Hawaii’s first farm-to-table buffet. The restaurant is in a stunning setting, overlooking the pool, with ocean and sunset views beyond compare.

Born and raised in Waimea on the Big Island, Demaya had his first taste of the restaurant industry working as a dishwasher at Café Pesto in Hilo. It was when he worked with food at the pizza station that he discovered his passion and excitement for cooking. He quit his drafting studies to pursue his culinary career working at Alan Wong’s restaurant in Honolulu for nine years, and says he will always be grateful to Alan, his mentor and friend.

Demaya received his formal culinary training at Hilo Community College Culinary School, and has extensive restaurant experience. His most memorable accomplishment is taking second place in the 2002 Chaine des Rotisseurs, an annual cooking competition that showcases young professionals in the culinary industry.

At home, Demaya loves to cook Filipino and Japanese cuisine, and enjoys golfing and fishing in his spare time. He dreams of moving back home to the Big Island in the future and opening his own restaurant that his dad would be proud of.

Chef Demaya says, “I have always wanted to use genuine, local ingredients, prepared by local chefs. More than 60 percent of our ingredients are local now, and our goal is to reach 80 percent. Kai Market will allow people to have a true sense of Hawaii through the foods that locals truly enjoy.”

Kai Market is inspired by the dishes on plantation tables more than 100 years ago, and incorporates traditional Hawaiian foods, such as roast pig, chicken, poi and fresh seafood with the many recipes of Chinese, Japanese, Okinawan, Korean, Puerto Rican, Portuguese and Filipino traditional foods. The buffet offers delicacies from many cultures with a local touch to make them truly Hawaiian. Menus change nightly, and four-hour parking is complimentary with validation. For more information, call 921-4600.

This is one of my favorite salads, and Chef Demaya has graciously given me his recipe to share with MidWeek readers.

GRILLED PINEAPPLE COLESLAW

* 1 pound sliced shredded head cabbage
* 1 cup grilled pineapple, small diced
* 1 cup Best Foods mayonnaise (may use less to taste or use light mayo)
* 1/2 cup raisins
* 1/2 cup shredded carrots
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 cup rice vinegar (Mitsukan brand)
* 1/4 cup pineapple juice
* 3 tablespoons Grey Poupon mustard
* salt and pepper, to taste

Place all wet ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk together. Place slaw, pineapples, carrots and raisins in large mixing bowl and pour liquid dressing over slaw. Toss to coat. Adjust seasonings and serve.

Makes eight-10 servings.

Diana Helfand is the author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking.” Email heartychef@hotmail.com.

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