Ikaika Manaku

Where Maui - - Where Now -

In an ef­fort to be sus­tain­able, Ikaika Manaku has fos­tered re­la­tion­ships with Maui farm­ers, ranch­ers and fish­er­men whose ef­forts have al­lowed him to main­tain a menu that is 80 per­cent lo­cal. A pro­po­nent of the “Buy Fresh. Buy Lo­cal.” mantra, Manaku dis­cusses the fu­ture of agri-tourism on Maui.

A Maui County bal­lot ini­tia­tive to tem­po­rar­ily ban ge­net­i­cally en­gi­neered crops nar­rowly passed dur­ing the Novem­ber midterm elec­tions. Where do you stand on this anti-GMO mora­to­rium?

We needed to put re­stric­tions on the use of pes­ti­cides. I think ev­ery­one is now headed in the right di­rec­tion.

As a chef, how im­por­tant is agri-tourism to you?

We talk of sus­tain­abil­ity and the farm-to-ta­ble con­cept, and the only way to achieve this is to work with lo­cal farm­ers, fish­er­men and ranch­ers. It’s our kuleana (re­spon­si­bil­ity) to make sure that we sup­port them.

Does agri-tourism have an im­pact on restau­rants?

Ab­so­lutely. It al­lows chefs to ap­proach farm­ers and ask them if they could grow cer­tain veg­eta­bles or herbs. Be­fore it was the farmer telling us what they could and couldn’t grow.

What do you see as the fu­ture for agri-tourism?

I think it will con­tinue to grow. I like to deal with real is­sues and I like to turn neg­a­tives into pos­i­tives. I’m ex­cited to see what hap­pens in five years. A lot has al­ready changed since I started here in Aug. 2010. There cer­tainly has been more farm­ing and chefs are sourc­ing their in­gre­di­ents closer to home.

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