Keeping It Natural And Local
Owner, Living Foods Market and Bar Acuda
What business are you in? I have two restaurants, Bar Acuda Tapas & Wine in Hanalei and the new Living Foods Market in Kukuiula Village near the roundabout in Po`ipu. It is a natural foods grocery store with an organic natural foods cafÃ© that serves breakfast and lunch. Later in the summer we also will serve dinner and alcohol.
Where did you grow up?
How did you get started in this business? My father owned a family-run auberge – a restaurant and 10-room B&B – where I started making salads at age 11. I moved to San Francisco in the 1980s and worked in many different kitchens for 25 years, the last 15 of them in restaurants I built and ran on my own.
What sets your business apart?
I traveled and cooked my way through Europe, learning and experiencing. Living Foods is a natural extension of all my experiences. I offer simple, rustic food that goes from market to table, bringing 25 years of award-winning restaurant style to the island with a tightly knit staff.
What motivates you to go to work each day? Traveling in Europe, I found the food was a communal family thing, a time to sit and have discussions. It was a lifestyle and a love of life captured in their food. I try in all my restaurants to have it be more than just food. For example, at Bar Acuda, dinner guests are forced to reach across to the tapas, and share their dinner experience. I love that aspect.
Do you have a business philosophy? Keep it local. We can produce almost everything here and love to eat locally, regionally. We’re connected to our farmers and keep the faith that we will buy their produce. At the market, we sell their pole beans, dry beans, fennels, different kinds of potatoes, baby onions and much more.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your business? Most of the paper products, canned goods, etc., take a long time to get here.
What’s most rewarding? There are so many ingredients in our meals that you can get in the market – for example, chutneys, sauces, artisan cheeses and more. One of the goals when we opened Living Foods was to bake our own breads. We bake our own breads for use in the cafÃ© and for sale in the market, and we also produce bread for a couple of restaurants on the island.
Do you have mentors? Since I was 19 there have been many, and I learn from my staff every day. My father was a free spirit who taught me you could do anything you want in the world – do it with honesty and passion. And I was inspired by the peasant people I met in villages in my travels.
How do you measure success?
By the smiles of the people who eat in my restaurant and shop in the market.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Making wine.
Living Foods Market, Kukuiula Village,
2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka, at the round-about in Po`ipu,