Chef texts: What’s cooking in 2017?

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What will be on our plates this year? What food trends are coming? We texted some local chefs and found agreement on several trends, disagreement about poke and hope for marijuana edibles and saimin. Read on for more of their predictions.


Mark “Gooch” Noguchi, Pili Group and Lunchbox at Hawaiian Airlines

I hope poke falls out of trend. Hawaii’s food culture is becoming recognized on a much larger level, our strong sense of place in cooking. Sheldon’s food screams his father. My food screams my connection to hula. Kevin Lee’s food shows his Chinese heritage. And we’ll see more chef’s tables.


Sheldon Simeon, Tinroof Maui

In the words of Gooch, ramen is trendy, saimin is life! In the world of noodles, although not as hyped as a few years ago, ramen is still a hot food trend that still has a crazy following. With diners getting more educated about ramen and learning the different types like tonkotsu, shoyu, shio and miso, I feel it’s time for saimin to get its turn in the limelight. It’s so distinctive to Hawaii.

I think all Hawaii chefs have gone back and taken a look at their roots as inspiration. I see it going a step deeper. Going back and perfecting dishes in their traditional manner. Whether it’s adobo with the perfect balance of shoyu and vinegar, or the softest Portuguese sweet bread, or nishime with perfectly cooked vegetables, look for chefs to keep it real with some OG recipes.


Jonathan Mizukami, formerly of Vintage Cave and French Laundry

I see plant-based food taking center stage. Vegetables will have more of a presence on restaurant menus, with more offerings.

Sustainability. Where is your food from? It has always been there, but every year the awareness is growing.



Chris Kajioka, Senia

More emphasis on vegetables as the star and more share-style dining.



Jon Matsubara, Forty Carrots at Bloomingdale’s

Classical dishes with modern presentation. More poke bowls and bibimbap-type dishes.



Brandon Lee, Piggy Smalls

Note: I misspelled “potatoes.” Also “hasselbacks.” Wishing myself better editing in 2017.

As for the Chinese food thing?

Lee says: Well, Chinese food is based on freshness. Can’t get more fresh than vegetables.



Michelle Karr Ueoka, MW Restaurant and Artizen

Moringa olifeira aka kalamungai. It is amazing. Not to mention the one we have is pharmaceutical-grade and the health benefits are incredible. Slows cancer, boosts energy, clarifies, lowers blood sugar, etc. I can go on forever. Mountain View Farms does it 100 percent into a beautiful powder without taking it above 115 degrees.



Ed Morita, The Modern Honolulu

Sous vide cooking at home. Sous vide water circulators have become really affordable and were a hot item this Christmas. They enable people to cook lean proteins without adding unnecessary fats and make food prep for meal plans really easy. I’ve received an advance copy of a new cookbook on sous vide cooking as well as emails from two water circulator companies launching Kickstarter campaigns.

The Hawaiians famously used all parts of the kalo plant. People will start to follow suit, by finding ways to utilize by-products that they previously threw away. There are recipes popping up online for pickled watermelon rind and using the juice from beans as a vegan substitute for egg whites in baking.

Honolulu’s first medical marijuana dispensary will be opening soon and people will start to experiment with edibles. There’s a new show on Viceland called “Bong Appétit” where they challenge chefs to cook using marijuana as an ingredient. The first episode featured Marcel Vigneron.



Robynne Maii, Fete

People are going to want comforting and familiar foods prepared with care and love because of the social and political uncertainty.

In Hawaii, I think Middle Eastern and regional Italian foods will lead the way in 2017. On the mainland, Yotam Ottolenghi will still have his moment. Persian and Caucasus will be the next micro-focused cuisine in big markets like NYC.

All things rye and alternate grains!