Highway Inn, Kaka‘ako, will offer diners the chance to enjoy favorite family dishes from around the world without having to leave the local restaurant’s dining room. Third-generation Highway Inn owner Monica Toguchi Ryan has launched Tūtū’s Kitchen, a program to share beloved family dishes with the restaurant’s guests. Each month a different dish will be featured on the restaurant’s menu, made from a recipe shared by a “Tūtū”—not necessarily a grandparent, but a person of any age or gender who helps to preserve their family’s food traditions.
“I was inspired by New York City’s Enoteca Maria, an Italian restaurant where each night a different nonna (“grandmother” in Italian) serves cuisine from her own country,” Toguchi Ryan says. “I thought it was a natural fit to do something like that here. In Hawai‘i, there’s so much food that’s associated with comfort and home, things that your grandparents, or your parents, or your aunty or uncle is known for making. But we’re starting to lose those recipes. The idea behind Tūtū’s Kitchen is to bring in the people who make these favorite dishes and let them share not just the food, but also their stories—where the recipe comes from, how they learned to cook it, how they ended up being that person in the family that keeps these family food traditions alive.”
Tūtū’s Kitchen dishes will be available on Tūtū Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Kaka‘ako restaurant and featured at a quarterly Sunday night dinner. Each family-style dinner will offer guests the chance to try three Tūtū’s Kitchen dishes. The first quarterly dinner will take place on February 17, 5:30 p.m., at Highway Inn, Kaka‘ako. The featured Tūtū and dishes for the first quarter are Ku‘uipo Lorenzo, a hostess at Highway Inn, Kaka‘ako, with Popo’s Slumgallion, a savory stew of ground beef, Portuguese sausage, tomatoes, cabbage and beans, served with a sweetbread roll, featured in February; Kathi Saks, a private chef and culinary educator, with Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage, her family’s spin on classic Jewish cabbage rolls, filled with ground beef and pork, in a sweet and sour tomato sauce, served over egg noodles, featured in March; and Lori Wong, a culinary consultant and instructor whose family owned the iconic local restaurants Orson’s, The Chowder House and Byron’s Drive In, among others, with her Tempura Deep-Fried Twinkie, a popular dish from her time at her family’s restaurants, featured in April.
A portion of proceeds from Tūtū’s Kitchen Night and Tūtū Tuesdays and Thursdays will be donated to a non-profit organization. For 2019, the designated non-profit is Les Dames d’Escoffier, Hawai‘i Chapter, an organization dedicated to supporting women in the culinary fields and educating the community about food. Its local membership is comprised of more than 80 members in careers ranging from restaurants to farmers, food production to event organizers, educators to writers and publicists.
Tickets to Sunday Dinner at Tūtū’s Kitchen are $35 per person and can be purchased at www.myhighwayinn.com/tutus-kitchen