Today Hawaii is all locally grown this and boutique farms that. But not long ago the islands’ restaurants served mostly mediocre fare, using produce flown in from the mainland. The watershed moment occurred about 20 years ago, when a group of ambitious, world-class chefs formed Hawaii Regional Cuisine (www.gohawaii.com). The chefs guaranteed small farmers that they would buy the farmers’ entire crop if they grew high-quality fruits and vegetables. Those original chefs – Peter Merriman, Roy Yamaguchi, Beverly Gannon, Alan Wong, and George Mavrothalassitis, among others – sparked a culinary coup. Now Hawaii nurtures specialty farmers, fruit growers, and cheese-makers. Ranchers rear grass-fed cows and aquatic farmers raise rare varieties such as black cod. And now a generation of young chefs is taking up the torch.
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