#DearThalia: What it’s really like to be homeless

0FqahwYBssV-JSQIsja8REeA51gDAqg5xE5BUPrQ8v0,7A6R40aPKbWMOg1Vf3fUsYMHWCcZ-utTkG4x3HfTJ28,ZPjHK2Wfy7ilYMa2Zj6qqn_lfYVnvfGpJqW0yLBpSVE#DearThalia is heart-wrenching, eye-opening, awe-inspiring, raw and insightful. If you take four minutes out of your day to watch the trailer of the brand new local documentary by my high school classmate Rex Moribe, you will tear up, as I did.

The back story of how this project came to be goes way back to my home island of Kauai, where Rex and I used to sit next to each other in math class. Rex was a contender for Kapaa High School student body president. He was a funny, outrageous and positive guy who went on to become a pro bodyboarder and an entrepreneur (he’s the creator of Da Secret Sauce Hawaiian chili pepper water). He was always interested in film and once on Oahu, became an avid participant in Throwdown in Chinatown.


So how and why did this Kauai surfer-turned-businessman decide to focus all his attention, time and money on a Kakaako homeless family? I just had to catch up with him and find out.

Why did you decide to do this project?
I only knew of one homeless person (on Kauai) as I grew up. He stayed and slept in front of my favorite surf spot, Wailua Beach.

Fast forward to when I moved to Oahu in 1998. I was 18 with big dreams to become a professional bodyboarder. I’ve seen so many homeless people on the streets and on the beaches, particularly the west side, that had me thinking, “Is this normal?” This haunted me. In fact, I wanted to shoot this movie when I was 20 with mini-DV/VHS style of filming, but I never did – until now.

What have you learned during this time spent on the streets with this family?
There are many, many unsung heroes that help the homeless without being asked, even refusing a thank you. I lost count of the amount of people I met passing out food and clothing and saying “I do this because it’s the right thing to do.”

The homeless of the future could be your next-door neighbor, your aunty, your uncle, your father, your mother, your son, your daughter, even you or me.


What do you hope to achieve with this film and Kickstarter?
To create awareness that homeless people are everyday people. Yeah, we have the “crazies,” but between that and in hiding distance, there are families, regular tax-paying people who work and then end their day in a tent. I am afraid for the children of the future and the elderly of this generation.

This haunts me, because my own mother could easily be homeless in 10 years. She is a widow with three children, a high health insurance premium, and running a day care. What happens if she cannot do the day care any more – homelessness? If I have anything to say about it, NO!

What do you think the future holds for you in your career and endeavors?
The future is a mystery box and that’s what I love about life. Do I hope to make more films? Yes. Do I hope to inspire others to do exactly what they wish to do, as long as it doesn’t hurt themselves or others? Yes. I don’t know what the future holds for my career and I’m OK with that. But what I do know is that without changes now, it won’t matter what career I have – I will never be able to retire in Hawaii.


Moribe just launched a “Dear Thalia” movie 30-day Kickstarter to try to recoup the money he fronted to create this film, get it released and eventually on to DVD. He’s only asking for $5,000 but in actuality his bills have exceeded $10,000 for this project.

Here’s the “Dear Thalia” trailer on the website

Dear Thalia Kickstarter

Lauren Makk is living The FAB Life


She rose to fame on TLC’s Emmy-winning Trading Spaces and Drill Team on A&E, but interior design star Lauren Makk is still the home girl next door. The Oklahoma native-turned-Kakaako resident moved to Hawaii after coming for vacation and never wanting to leave.

Makk has been traveling the world lately for more TV productions but will continue to run her interior design business and workshops in Honolulu. Here’s a sneak peek at her co-hosts on The FAB Life, a syndicated talk show that debuts this fall, around the same time the new season of Hotel Impossible airs on the Travel Channel.


I caught up with Makk for a quick chat with her about these adventures, living in Hawaii and what we can look forward to.


Roy’s new throwback

slide07-2Roy Yamaguchi helped pioneer Hawaii Regional Cuisine a generation ago, when few had heard of wasabi butter or firecracker aioli. Now the culinary icon is going in the opposite direction with his next restaurant — back to the past. “It’s almost like a Star Wars trilogy where you revert to the past, find what’s relevant hundreds of years ago and make it modern, make it what could be the future,” he says.

Set to open this Saturday at Kukuiula on Kauai’s south shore, Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi will serve signature dishes made famous at the 30 Roy’s restaurants, like the misoyaki butterfish. But Eating House will mainly showcase new flavors, ingredients and dishes inspired by Portuguese, Filipino and Spanish influences.


Why the change in focus? And what about that name? Yamaguchi is a fan of ethnic cuisines, which he looked at through the lens of history. “I did some research on who opened the first restaurant in Hawaii,” he says. “There was an individual by the name of Peter Fernandez who had apparently opened the first restaurant in Honolulu.”

Fernandez’ restaurant, the simply named Eating House, was a place where you could sit down and be served food. It became the inspiration for Yamaguchi’s idea to create dishes and flavor combinations based on immigrant foods that would have been served in the middle of the 19th

Eating House 1849 bar area

Eating House 1849 bar area

century, but with contemporary fusion twists. That launched two years of travel, exploratory eating and experiments back home.

The resulting concept was a sort of modern-day throwback — something that would take diners back to the plantation days of old Hawaii. “People’s lives change and technology changes,” Yamaguchi says. “But one of the things that I have always wanted to keep constant is the ability for people to have a great home-cooked meal.”

View of Kukuiula from the kitchen of eating House 1849

View of Kukuiula from the kitchen of eating House 1849

While Eating House will be the third restaurant Yamaguchi has opened on Kauai, it will be his only remaining one come Saturday. The Tavern in Princeville closed after that site was converted into a private golf course; Yamaguchi hopes to resurrect it on Oahu. And the Roy’s in nearby Poipu, a 20-year fixture of the dining scene, will close when Eating House opens, with employees transferring to the new location.

Here’s a fun video interview I shot: 4 Quick Questions for Roy Yamaguchi:

Eating House 1849
Kukuiula Village
2829 Ala Kalaniaumaka Rd.
Poipu, Kauai

More info will be made available at:


The other side of Adam Tabura

Lanai and Adam Tabura

Lanai and Adam Tabura

It’s been two years since three Hawaii boys set out to capture the hearts of American foodies. Chef Adam Tabura, entrepreneur and media personality Lanai Tabura and comedian Shawn Felipe won $50,000 and a food truck as champions of season four on the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race.” Now, brothers Lanai and Adam are taking their message of aloha - and locally inspired food – abroad.

On the surface, that’s the story, and it’s a good one. But there’s far more than meets the eye. Adam, whose culinary background anchored the team’s food, was often in the shadow of his ebullient brother Lanai, but his story is fascinating. “When I was 17 I saved a man’s life,” he sums up,”and when I was 18 I was burned and couldn’t graduate from culinary school.”


Though shy and hesitant to talk about the trauma, he is sharing his story now to find closure and help others. It was two decades ago that Adam saved a drowning stranger at Hulopoe Bay on his home island of Lanai. In return, the grateful man who was a visitor from Iowa offered to pay part of Adam’s way through culinary school in Portland. It was his dream.

Then disaster struck. One week before graduation, while his friends were having a party at his house, Adam came home to find the kitchen in flames. He tried to extinguish a burning pot of oil and suffered third-degree burns to his hands and arms and lost his fingernails, eyebrows and eyelashes.

Injured and without medical insurance, he couldn’t graduate. “I didn’t want to tell anyone. I didn’t want to come home because I was embarrassed,” he says. “I didn’t want to cook yet, but I knew I had to get back on the horse.” It was nine months before he could bring himself to tell his family. Then he told his benefactor, and he also approached the dean of the culinary school for permission to finish his last class and receive his degree. Both benefactor and dean agreed to help.

Photo Credit: Glenn Yoza

Photo Credit: Glenn Yoza

Adam’s first job after culinary school was at Oregon’s Beaverton Inn, where he peeled potatoes for eight hours a day. For him the smell of oil and even the ambient heat of the kitchen were hard to take. But he worked his way up the culinary ladder and came home to a job at The Lodge at Koele. The rest, as they say, is history, the latest chapter of which played out on national TV: Adam cooking in the Aloha Plate food truck with Shawn while Lanai pumped up the crowds, over and over, state after state, until their jubilant win. Along the way, alert viewers may have noticed he never fried food and never cooked with oil.

Now Adam is a motivational speaker. He still has nightmares, but he tells his story of success despite lingering fears so that others facing similar setbacks will know that getting back on the horse and persevering does, step-by-step and year-by-year, make things better.

Check out this short video interview to find out what Adam’s up to and where you can now find the Aloha Plate food truck on Oahu.

Grey Goose Dayclub: Pow! Wow! edition

They’re here! More than 100 artists from around the globe have arrived in Honolulu for Pow! Wow! Hawaii 2015. Before the annual art, music, education and mural painting festival gets under way Monday, featured artists got a chance to soak up the Hawaii sun and enjoy the aloha vibe.

This month’s Grey Goose Dayclub partnered with Pow! Wow! Hawaii, surfer Kelly Slater’s Purps energy drink and Kaimana Beachwear. Pow Wow artists painted body art on models in bikinis, Purps ambassadors handed out free samples and sunbathers chilled to some groovy beats at the Modern Honolulu’s sunset pool and bar.