“He lau maona” is a Hawaiian expression that means “the leaf that feeds until satisfied,” referring to the kalo plant, a key food source from root to tip. As the new name for an up-and-coming culinary partnership, “The Feeding Leaf” means sharing food rooted in culture, prepared and served with a high level of artistry.
Chef Scott Hiraishi and event planner Tracey Apoliona make a strong team, cumulatively bringing decades of creative organizational and culinary skills to the table. Working with clients on a variety of private parties and social functions, The Feeding Leaf focuses almost exclusively on Hawaii’s wealth of local foods.
The idea began with the Hawaii Island Ranchers Dinner at Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai last March. Hiraishi was executive chef and took a leadership role on the event, supported by Choy. Working with partners in the agriculture and education communities, the Ranchers Dinner promoted their joint mission to not only “grow farmers” by nurturing agriculture, but to “grow chefs” who will use these foods in their restaurants.
Hiraishi and Apoliona began to think about a partnership of their own, while planning for the “Roast &Roots” event, collaborating with Hawaii Coffee Association, Kamehameha Schools-Land Asset Division, and the Department of Agriculture. Held July 19 at the Sheraton Kona Resort &Spa at Keauhou Bay convention center, Roast &Roots was the perfect stage to premiere The Feeding Leaf.
“We want people to understand that there’s a real and significant difference between mainstream and local foods,” Apoliona said. “We want the farmers and ranchers to be appreciated for the work they do. We’ve gone to their farms and ranches and met the people behind the food.”
A trip into Waipio Valley for a photo shoot turned into an educational opportunity, as the crew ventured into the ancient loi amid centuries-old rock walls. “It was pouring rain and we were drenched, but it all kind of fell into place,” Apoliona said. Traditional Hawaiian farmers believed water is life. “It was almost as if Waipio was giving us water, trying to feed us so we could go back and feed other people. … The Feeding Leaf is a very good vehicle to teach, not just others, but to teach ourselves,” said Apoliona.
Already active in Hawaii’s culinary scene, Hirasishi has been invited to cook for Hawaii Food &Wine Festival’s “Paina on the Pier” event on Oahu. The Feeding Leaf will participate in Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range at Hilton Waikoloa Village.
For more information, visit thefeedingleaf.com.