Hawaiian Soul Food

Seasoned chef plans sustainable kitchen.

By Brandon Roberts

Many on Molokai have a shared goal to make the island self-reliant. Hotel Molokai Chef Mia Gaines-Alt has this vision, and pictures her kitchen as a way to promote and develop it.

“We need to support ourselves and each other,” Gaines-Alt said Wednesday morning at an American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) meeting. “We do not need to rely on the barge or Honolulu.”

Molokai is predominantly a rural community. So where do the islands’ grown goods go? Gaines-Alt would like to see Hawaiian agricultural talents stay on Molokai for the community to benefit and enjoy.

Some of the projects on her plate are to create a viable market for farms on Molokai by harnessing locally grown goods for the kitchen at the Hotel. She also plans to be involved with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program.The FFA promotes agricultural education to students.

Gaines-Alt is seeking fresh Molokai produce like fruit, berries, leafy greens and even fish to promote a sustainable kitchen at the Hotel. She also has plans for an herb garden on the Hotel grounds.

Gaines-Alt describes herself as eclectic by nature. “We never graduate from thinking outside the box.” She likes to grab a spice off the shelf and see what happens.

Gaines-Alt began experimenting with foods as a toddler in Oakdale, California. However, her first love was music, so she went to college as a Music major.

Fortunate for Molokai, the life of a starving artist drove her hunger toward something different, food.

Some of the other tasty changes from the kitchen are fryer and cooking oils that use zero transfats, like canola and extra virgin olive oil. Her first cooking job was in an Italian restaurant, so a hint of the Mediterranean cuisine can be found in many of her dishes, but Island favorites like kalbi ribs and the loco moco are here to stay.

The Hotel Molokai can be contacted at (808) 553-5347 or online at info@hotelmolokai.com


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