We looked to Hawaiʻi's vibrant culture of artisanal craftsmanship when designing the hand-braided leather straps on the Kāhiko—which simulate traditional rope braiding.
From beach to trail to Kaka‘ako’s urban art street scene, the Nalukai Kapa Boot is built for any modern adventure. Featuring water-resistant waxed canvas and moisture-wicking microfiber lining.
Shop Nalukai Kapa Boot
From beach to land and back again, the classic ‘Ohana is made to let kids roam, tumble, explore. Weather-resistant and floats.
Shop Boys’ ‘Ohana
So light, so airy and so brightly colored, our slip-on Pehuea Maka Girls is made to keep up with her adventurous spirit.
Shop Girls’ Pehuea Maka
Hikianalia is the companion sailing canoe of the iconic Hōkūle‘a and summons the wayfaring wisdom passed down by its Hawaiian ancestors to navigate the sea.
Sailing the sunny skies from Kualoa to Haleiwa, Team OluKai embarked on this year’s Annual 2-day wa`a (canoe) race, though this year served an unanticipated challenge. Handedly winning the first day of the competition, the 6-man crew took an early lead Day 2 with mirrored mental focus and refreshed physical stamina. However, adversity quickly found Team OluKai in the form of an incongruent, ravaging wave dealing severe damage to their ama.
Quickly recovering sound structure to their ship, the crew found themselves bumped to sixth place. Thankfully, in the sport of outrigger canoeing concentration and strength alone don’t earn you the lead, synchronicity is the deciding factor. Hand to paddle, one crew member said, “we pull together and finish the race.” Without hesitation, all members of Team OluKai paddled harmoniously back to competitive standing, passing each boat that had cruised by during their skirmish with the ocean.
Nearing Kahuku Point, the team utilized shifting wind patterns to keep the bandaged ama out of the water, a tactic deservedly placing them back in their original first place position. Kawela Bay, Kaunala Stream, Sharks Cove and Waimea Bay were practically the only obstacles in their way. In most cases, the trade winds would push the canoe straight to victory at Haleʻiwa finish line; however, sailing down wind was not the case for Team OluKai. The crew anticipated that the downwind push would re-level the boat, dragging the unsteady ama through the currents and wrecking it once again. It was too risky to compromise such a crucial part of the wa`a, so the six men quickly adjusted their weight distribution and realigned their sail according to more suitable wind patterns. With the second place team gaining way, these necessary concessions immediately bumped OluKai out of their first place position.
Having already overcome one major setback and consistent conflict, the team squared their vessel on a starboard tack and reharmonized their rhythm, which allowed them to quickly retake the lead and win the race.
Team OluKai steersman Mike Field had this to share: “Winning this race, given the constant challenges, was beyond sweet. The crew responded to each challenge in the moment and “in sync” with each other and the canoe. What could have been a disaster turned into the most satisfying experience.”
“In winning, we were given the Ka’au Mckenney Award. Ka’au was a dear friend to all of us Ocean Athletes, he died tragically at Makapuu Lighthouse in 2011. I am extremely grateful to my crew and the people at Olukai for believing in us.”
In a three-part series with Surfer Magazine, we explore Hawaiiʻs rich surf culture and history through contemporary Hawaiians who are keeping their style and legend alive.
The first short film features Cliff Kapono, PhD., a Hilo Native who reflects on how growing up watching Larry Bertlemann influenced the surfer and scientist he is today.
Stay tuned for more!
Hawaiian Canoe Plants, Fish and Meat You Can Find (And Eat) at Kaka‘ako Farmers
More than a millennia ago, when skilled Polynesian voyagers trekked across the Pacific
searching for habitable islands, they packed their canoes with resources for survival on
the high seas and for sustenance on any newfound island. The Polynesians that
discovered the Hawaiian Islands filled their canoes with dried or fermented food staples
like ‘ulu (breadfruit), kalo (taro), ‘uala (sweet potato), mai‘a (banana), niu (coconut), and
ko (sugar cane). They also saved some space for pigs and chickens, and trolled for fish
daily. Today, you can find many of the original 24 canoe plants growing in farms across
the state and available at community farmers’ markets. If you’re in Honolulu, stop by the
Kaka‘ako Farmers Market and scope out these culturally significant, versatile, and
Sweet Potato – ‘Uala
‘Uala was a favorite food of pre-contact Hawaiians because it grows easily in poor soil
and dry climates, is a high-yield crop, is easily propagated from cuttings, and it tastes
downright delicious. The early Hawaiians actually grew about 200 varieties of sweet
potato. While most of us know how to cook a sweet potato, the Hawaiian had their own
methods to making the most of the sweet and nutritious tuber. For instance, the leaves
can also be steamed, boiled, or baked—the tender, new leaves being the most desirable.
‘Uala is also a great source of vitamin A, calcium, and phosphorus. For early Hawaiians,
‘uala was also used for medicinal purposes. Find ‘uala at the Ed’s Little Farm tent.
Banana – Mai‘a
Banana, or mai‘a in Hawaiian, was one of the earliest canoe plants brought to the
Hawaiian Islands. Hawaiian legend tells of a brother of Pele who brought the banana to
Hawai‘i from Tahiti, and mai‘a factors into many other Hawaiian chants and proverbs.
There are more than 50 varieties and some of the early strains of banana still grow wild in
protected valleys. Early Hawaiian used every part of the banana plant, which is actually
an herb. Today, you can find several varieties of locally grown banana at Kaka‘ako
Farmers’ Market. Look for cooking bananas, sweet apple bananas, and the soft
and succulent ice cream banana, a short and plump banana with a bluish-hued
skin. Freeze it whole, then remove the skin before you drop it into the blender for
a sweet addition to any smoothie. Find mai‘a at the Fields of Aloha tent.
Taro – Kalo
Kalo is one of the most well known of the Hawaiian canoe plants and is ubiquitous across
the state. Better known as taro today, it can be grown in dryland patches, or in kalo loi,
terraced, water-filled planting beds, much like rice. To the Hawaiian people of time
immemorial, kalo is believed to have the greatest life force of all foods. According to a
creation chant, kalo grew from the first-born son of Wakea (sky father) and Papa (earth
mother). Poi is the pounded form of the kalo corm and was the pinnacle means of
survival for the early Hawaiian people. The leaves are also edible, but must be cooked.
Cooked kalo leaves, called lu‘au, are often mixed with octopus, beef, pork, or chicken
and served as a thick stew. Kalo can be found at the Fields of Aloha tent.
Pig – pua‘a
First off, let’s set the facts straight. Pigs are not native to the Hawaiian Islands. The feral
pigs that ransack and rummage through Hawai‘i’s upland forests today bear little
resemblance to the domesticated pigs brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Polynesian
voyagers. Those early pigs were a highly valued and carefully managed source of protein
for early Hawaiians, and the pua‘a were much smaller than the feral pigs seen today.
Pua‘a were an integral part of early Hawaiian life and most households had pa pua‘a (pig
pens). Visit the Forage tent to pick up island-grown, all-natural local pork, as well as
pasture-raised Big Island wild boar.
Yellowfin Tuna – ahi
While the land provided early Hawaiians with fruits, vegetables, and animal protein, they
also looked to the ocean and nearshore reefs for an abundance of seafood to complement
their well-managed diet. Today, we can dine on those same delicious fish that call the
Hawai‘i waters home—feeding generations of early Hawaiians across the arc of time to
the present. Through environmental nonprofit Local I‘a, find ahi (yellowfin tuna), ono
(wahoo), he‘e mauli (octopus), opah (moonfish), and other fish sourced by local
fishermen using sustainable fishing practices and adhering to the organizations nature-
based Pono Fishing Standards. It’s a win-win for the ocean and your next meal.
OluKai x ASN collaborated with our ‘ohana Kimi Werner and Kahi Pacarro to take a closer look at how the Hawaii’s oceans are affected by the microplastic crisis in the short film, ‘Finding Away’.
We’re proud to shed a light on this critical issue and do our small part in reducing our footprint through everyday corporate standards, including being plastic and straw free in our in-house kitchen.
On O‘ahu, just about everybody knows Restauranteur and Chef Ed Kenney (or at least know of him). While Ed prefers the solitude of the kitchen over the attention and visibility he receives in the front of the house, his humble and quiet demeanor has not kept him from leading a conscious community of local food and sustainability advocates. He can tell you the best seasonal produce stocked at the farmers’ market or how to process a wild boar caught in the local mountains, but he won’t mention that he was integral in bringing Hawai‘i’s farm-to-table movement into the public eye. With a mission for supporting local farmers and reestablishing food security in Hawai‘i, Ed is one of those people whose actions, as well as his cooking, speak louder than his words.
When Ed opened his first restaurant, Town, in Kaimukī, he coined “Local first, organic whenever possible, with Aloha always.” The catchphrase coalesced a conscious community, people who care about the story behind their food. Sea to table, farm to fork, butcher to bar, however you say it, Ed Kenney serves it up everyday at Town, Mud Hen Water, Kaimuki Superette, and Mahina & Sun’s.
Where did your passion for cooking and sustainability come from? Who first shared their love of cooking with you?
It’s my mom, definitely—single mom, raised two boys. Out of economics she cooked everything from scratch. We had one of those houses where the door was always open and she was always feeding a bunch of us; it was an open-door policy and we were all about sharing food with friends.
How did you come to incorporate a sustainable, local-first element to your cooking?
There was a revelation at some point. As a chef you’re looking for best ingredients, and the best dishes start with best ingredients. Something that’s closer to the source and hasn’t traveled thousands of miles, been refrigerated, picked green, and artificially ripened like the tomatoes they ship in.
When you grow up in Hawai‘i, there’s an unspoken attachment to this place. You want to preserve it. Then you have kids and it changes even more so because you’re not doing things just for self or your customers, but for the next generation. The emotional level of doing the right thing drives me.
I think chefs are in unique position to move a cause forward. Between our four restaurants we feed 350 to 400 people a day. Each one of those people can be exposed to the stories we tell through food.
What is your perspective on local food culture and farm-to-table cooking? And to take it a step further, how has it evolved?
Traditionally, restaurants are profitable based on set menus and consistency. Working with small farms, we knew we had to turn that model upside down. We had to change the menu every day, buy whatever came in the back door, and use it up as best we can. The reviews were mixed at first, but by year three we were busting at the seams and our vision was realized. We got in at right time and were the first ones to democratize local food. At that time the menu was twice as long as it had to be because every item had a place name in front of it—Waimānalo, Mokule‘ia, Waialua. Now, we don’t do that anymore because it’s almost expected.
What type of relationship do you have with MA‘O Farms?
We refer to ourselves as co-producers. It’s not just a farmer and chef relationship; our overall success is a result of each other’s success. There’s no better beet, root vegetables, or arugula on the island, and it’s organic. MA‘O Farms is unique because it’s a nonprofit social enterprise. It provides leadership opportunities to at-risk or underserved youth from the Wai‘anae community, known for its economic indicators of poverty. The farm provides them with the opportunity to get a university degree in community sustainable food systems for free, while at same time reconnecting with the ‘āina, which in native Hawaiian culture is the focus of everything.
How important are farmers’ markets in steering local residents back to locally grown food and making connections with farmers?
Michael Pollan, in his book, In Defense Of Food, said that 11-times more interactions take place at a farmers’ market than at a supermarket. That’s part of the sustainability equation that is overlooked. You’ve got the environmental aspect and the economic, but that social leg of three-leg stool is often not talked about. That’s where restaurants and farmers’ markets really shine. It gives you the opportunity to meet those people, know your farmer, and know where the food comes from.
When you put your heart into every dish you cook, how important is sharing that food around the table and bringing people together?
It’s synonymous. In order to be in this business and stick with it you have to be a sharing, giving person. Otherwise you could work a lot less hours and make a lot more money. It may be a self-defeating prophecy, but it would be wonderful if more people stayed home, cooked and ate together as a family. It would help make the world a better place.
Check out a couple of Ed's recipes:
Ed's Beet Poke
On the eve of opening our third restaurant, Mud Hen Water, we had just received a delivery of beautiful beets from Ma‘O Organic Farm. At the end of the evening, on a whim, we decided to bury the beets in the dying embers of the hearth overnight. In the morning we returned to uncover the most perfectly cooked, succulent, smoky beets we had ever tasted. We had no specific use for these beets in mind, but when they were peeled and cut, we couldn’t help but notice how much they resembled cubed ahi. The opening night menu was already set, but we decided to run a last minute offering, Ember Roasted Beet Poke with Pickled Limu, Smoked Macadamia Nuts, and Avocado. Prepared traditionally with sesame oil, chile pepper water, and pa‘akai (sea salt), our “new” rendition still honors the classic Hawaiian dish's roots (no pun intended), however, in a time when our seas are at risk of over fishing and subject to habitat destruction due to commercial fishing activity, our dish eliminates the use of fish altogether. The sweetness of the beets is offset with pickled limu. The smoked macadamia nuts reinforce the hints of smoke imbued in the overnight roasting. And the avocado provides a richness that ties this very lean dish all together. Overnight, the dish immediately became a signature item...the rest is history.
Keep scrolling for Ed's Beet Poke recipe!
Active Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours, 45 Minutes
Yield: Serves: 6 to 8
2 1/2 pounds medium beets, scrubbed
1 navel orange, halved
One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced and smashed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup wakame seaweed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup very thinly sliced sweet onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 Hass avocados—peeled, pitted and cut into large chunks
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons wasabi powder
1 golden beet, peeled and sliced paper-thin, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Set the beets in a baking dish. Squeeze the juice from the orange halves over the beets; add the orange halves and ginger to the dish. Drizzle the beets with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the beets are tender. Let cool, then peel and cut into 1-inch pieces. Leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, toast the nuts in a pie plate until golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop. In a bowl, cover the wakame with cold water and let stand until rehydrated, about 5 minutes; drain. Rinse under cold water, then drain again.
In a large bowl, toss the beets with the wakame, toasted nuts, vinegar, sesame oil, onion and scallions. Season the poke with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until slightly chilled, about 15 minutes.
In another bowl, mash the avocados with the lemon juice, wasabi powder and
1 tablespoon of water. Season the avocado with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
To serve, mound the poke on plates and garnish with the golden beet, if using.
Pass the avocado-wasabi mash at the table.
The beet poke can be refrigerated overnight. Add the nuts, then serve.
Ed Kenney shares the popular Kaimuki Superette Kombucha recipe
Ed Kenney’s second establishment on Waialae Avenue, Kaimuki Superette, is well known as Kaimukī’s favorite sandwich shop and coffee house. Beyond the cold brew, hot sandwiches, and ever-changing antipasti—made with fresh, seasonal veggies—Ed’s evolution of the neighborhood deli also features a bevy of flavored kombucha. For Ed, kombucha is an amazing beverage in so many ways. It’s rich in probiotic and gut-healthy bacteria. It provides a means to utilize fruit and vegetable trimmings, which cut down on kitchen waste. Above all, it’s fantastically delicious. If you’re not able to drop into the Superette, as the locals call it, then give Ed’s Kaimuki Superette Kombucha recipe a try at home. Cheers!
Kaimuki Superette Kombucha
First Ferment – This step develops the beneficial bacteria and tangy acidity.
2 gallons water
2 cups raw sugar
10 grams organic black tea leaves (wrapped in cheesecloth)
The Scoby (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) – This is a one-time purchase from your natural foods store. It is rolled over from each batch of Kombucha to the next. As it grows, it can be split to make larger batches or shared with friends that also want to make Kombucha at home.
Bring water to boil. Allow to cool to 180° F. Add the tea wrapped in cheesecloth and steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea and cool the liquid to room temperature. Place the tea and scoby in a clean container (preferably glass) and cover with cheesecloth to allow it to de-gas. Store in cool dark place for 2 weeks. The first fermentation is complete!
Strain out the scoby and 1 cup of kombucha to be used in your next batch of Kombucha. If you are not ready to immediately roll into another batch, the scoby will live for two months in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
Second Ferment – This step infuses flavor into the beverage and bubbles (effervescence) form.
Split the Kombucha into four (4) half-gallon mason jars. To each jar add approximately 1 cup of fruit scraps, herbs, or spices. Get creative with the ingredients or stick with a few of my suggestions. Cover the mason jars tightly with lids. Leave the jars out in cool dark place for two to three days, burping (loosen lid to release gas) each day. This completes the second fermentation.
Strain the kombucha and enjoy over ice or in your favorite cocktail. Keep refrigerated.
Ed’s Kombucha Flavoring ideas – Don’t be afraid to experiment. Some batches will come out better than others, but all are delicious.
Citrus Pulp and Rinds
Scraped Vanilla Pods
Ginger or Turmeric Trim
Whatever you can think of, try it!
Whether you cast a line from shore or hold your breath and slowly descend into the depths to the reef below with speargun in hand, it’s not easy to catch a fish. Kimi Werner can attest to that. After culinary school and a foray into a career in the arts, professional spearfisher Kimi Werner tapped into lessons she learned from her father in her early youth and returned to the sea, putting her heart and soul into the solitary endeavor of spearfishing. In 2008, she became a national champion.
On land, Kimi is anything but solitary. Through her advocacy supporting local food and healthy reefs and oceans, she inadvertently created a community of sharing that has grown beyond trading fish for avocados. Today, as an OluKai Ambassador, Kimi is spreading her penchant for eating local and fresh foods, protecting the ocean, and sharing its bounty to encourage others to do the same.
How did you get started freediving and spearfishing?
I grew up on Maui. At the age of five I first tagged along with my dad when he would go spearfishing and freediving, just to put food on the table for our family. The minute I got introduced to that underwater world I fell in love with it.
When I was 24 years old, living on O‘ahu—I had graduated college with a culinary arts degree and I had a job in the restaurant industry. The more I questioned what was missing, the more that my mind kept throwing at me memories of diving with my dad and getting food. So I started seeking out anybody who could spearfish. No one took me seriously, so I went out and got a three-prong spear. I went out on my own on the North Shore of O‘ahu.
After trying all day on that reef I was able to spear six different fish and bring them home for dinner. When I cleaned those fish, cooked that dinner and shared it with my roommates, I realized that meal tasted and felt more valuable to me than anything I made in my entire culinary career. I knew I needed to hold on to this with both hands. Soon, I starting showing up to barbeques with my own fish. Then people started inviting me diving and I became obsessed with it.
At what point did you transition from fishing to becoming a competitive spearfisher?
Eventually I fell into the hands of these elite divers, these past national champions who heard about this enthusiastic girl, and they trained me. I dove with them for about three years. I learned so much and am so grateful. They taught me how to take the skills and go into the unknown and do so much more with them. In 2008, I realized I wanted to try my hand at competing to see how I hold up next to the best in the nation, and I wanted to win and then turn around and thank these guys that taught me.
When did you realize that the ocean could provide you with more than just fish?
As far as lifetime opportunities to make a livelihood, I had no clue until I was about 28 years old. In 2008, I won the United States National Spearfishing Championships and started to get public recognition. When I quit competition, I thought I would lose those career opportunities. I realized that I wanted to dive, spearfish, travel, and learn about other cultures, how other places manage their natural resources and practice sustainable hunting. That became my passion. To my surprise, the more I was able to pursue that and share what I was learning, the more that my following grew and more opportunity came my way. It became clear that this is going to be something I can do full time.
What have you learned from your time underwater?
The biggest thing I learned from the ocean is when you feel the need to speed up, slow down. It’s about being comfortable in the water and learning how to relax under pressure. Anytime I felt the need to rush, panic or speed up, that became my indicator to move more slowly and relax. That totally improved my freediving, but personally it has helped me in my life, in society.
What does fishing mean to you now?
Fishing is a way to immerse myself in this environment and truly connect with it, to study, learn, and know the environment. Being a provider happened inadvertently. Sometimes I’ll catch enough fish to share. It took a lot of work, and it’s a life that I took. Out of respect for my catch, I want to share with people that will appreciate it as much as I do, even if it means going to great lengths like driving across the island to get this fish into the hands of somebody I can tell will really appreciate it.
In your eyes, how does the simple act of sharing fish create a community?
What ended up happening without realizing it, I was choosing people like Ed Kenney, like Hiilei Kawelo, like Paula Fuga— people with the same interest of getting to know their own environment and how to use their resources responsibly with love. In the weeks after sharing that fish, I’d wake up and have avocados at my door, or venison from local hunter, or I would have kale or beautiful garden greens, or chicken eggs.
Today, I barely go spearfishing once a week and yet I feed myself about 80 percent of my food from someone that grew, caught, or foraged, because this sharing community has been created in Hawai‘i. We found a way to take care of each other. It’s really harmonious. Sharing is a huge part of sustainability.
Kimi Werner’s ultimately easy and savory fish marinade
Whether Kimi Werner is hosting a barbeque at home or stopping by a friend’s house for a low-key grill out, she knows she can always turn to her favorite quick and savory seafood marinade to get everyone’s belly grumbling. It’s quick. It’s easy. And it’s her go-to fish preparation.
While Kimi doesn’t use exact measurements for her marinade, she suggests doing some experimenting with the quantities of each ingredient to find the perfect balance to suit your personal taste buds. Because this marinade works equally well with red or white meat fish,—essentially any fish that’s big enough to filet—it’s the perfect solution to adding bold flavor for on-the-fly cookouts.
Garlic, finely chopped
Ginger root, finely chopped
Thai basil, chiffonade or whole leaf
Method to the Madness
In a bowl, combine olive oil, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Kimi uses two lemons. Add the garlic, ginger, and Thai basil leaves to the marinade and whisk together. Add fish filets to the marinade and let them soak for about 45 minutes. Cook on a medium to medium-high heat grill until cooked through, usually until the filet easily breaks apart with a fork.
There is a long road to recovery for Kaua‘i after last weekend’s historic rainfall and flooding. Between Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15, 28 inches of rain drenched the Garden Isle in a 24 hour span causing massive floods, landslides and sinkholes that ravaged the roads. The kalo (taro) fields, town’s iconic pier, beach park and river are so heavily altered that they are barely recognizable. Five landslides decimated Kūhio Highway on Saturday night, cutting off the only road into the north side of Kaua‘i, forcing the firefighters and lifeguards to evacuate residents via jet ski and boat. There are several lifeguards and fire fighters that have lost their homes in the floods, but continue to serve the community diligently, assisting with evacuations and getting supplies to those unable to leave their neighborhoods. Damage is widespread on the island with flooding also displacing many ‘ohana on the south side as well. Governor David Ige and Mayor Bernard Carvalho declared a state of emergency by Sunday afternoon.
The National Guard was sent in to aid local rescue officials and so far there are over 350 people were evacuated by helicopters and many by sea. With so much mud and debris on the roads it’s extremely difficult to drive and many residents are cutoff with no running water or electricity. At this point there are many families displaced in shelters. Houses and possessions are lost or beyond repair. Vehicles are overturned and roads and bridges are in shambles.
Yet, the people of Kaua‘i are rallying with all of the State responding, and so are we.
OluKai is extending support with helping hands on the ground, donating work boots and redirecting race registration fees from our annual Ho’Olaule’a paddle race to the Kaua’i Lifeguard Association. We invite you to give back by donating to the Kaua’i guards or to Kaua’i at large through the Hawaii Community Fund.
There is an ‘ōlelo no‘eau (Hawaiian proverb) that is a source of inspiration for the arduous task of rebuilding the Garden Isle: Pa‘akiki kānaka o Kaua‘I (Tough are the people of Kaua‘i). This saying comes from an ‘ōlelo (story) about a group of Kaua‘i warriors that defeated a supernatural man eater on O‘ahu. Will you join us in helping Kaua‘i rebuild so that this ‘ōlelo no‘eau will also refer to the modern efforts of the Garden Isle’s residents after this historic flood?
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