Chef/Restaurateur Mark Ellman of Mala An Ocean Tavern in Lahaina and Mala Wailea.
His new Lahaina restaurant, Honu, is scheduled to open in 2011.
I asked him if he thinks culinary trends change – like hemlines – with the economy. “Absolutely. The economy more than ever has played a big role in people’s spending habits (at restaurants).” He believes that diet/health/fitness news also has an effect. “As baby boomers mature, the reality of health becomes a big concern so less cream and butter and steaks. More fish. My menus reflect this because I’m one of those baby boomers.”
He’s got a slightly different take from Tom on the difference between Maui and Mainland trends. “Yes, we do have to make concessions, especially on Maui, (because of our large visitor base). I try to serve food that is complemented by the tropical environment; hard to serve hearty, wintery food here. So my menu needs to be summer- friendly year ‘round and also take into account the visitors who come from great cities like New York and San Francisco where the culinary trends are on such a high level. The trick is to impress their palates on our little island.”
And what foods/trends will reign in 2011? “I think it will be pure simple food with emphasis on the origin of the product. And flavors that are bold, like Middle Eastern, Asian and North African.”