Why he killed it in 2015: The land of aloha hasn't seen a lot of action since the days of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine, pioneered by Roy Yamaguchi, Alan Wong and more island-minded chefs in the early 90s. But that's changed with the opening of Mud Hen Water, Kenney's ode to ancient Hawaiian ingredients like sour pa'i'ai (fermented taro) and the Asian-Americanized comfort food he grew up with like brothy saimin. With this and his upcoming Mahina & Sun's opening next month, it all adds up to the most exciting food on the island right now.
How would you describe your food? "Elevated home cooking that depicts a 'Hawaiian sense of plate.'"
What's your signature dish? "Lawalu I'a: fresh fish and seasonal vegetables wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked in a traditional Hawaiian method, buried in embers. The cooked dish is finished with a generous drizzling of extra-virgin coconut milk."
What's the dish you'd cook for the rest of your life? "Salads. Made from an ever-changing palette of roots, leaves, veggies, fruits, stems, shoots, nuts, seeds, blossoms, cheese, smoked fish, cured meats, rare beef, grilled bread, eggs . . . the possibilities are endless."
Rank pancakes, waffles and French toast from favorite to least favorite. "Thin pancakes, waffles, French toast, thick pancakes."Next Chef