POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Apr 27, 2011
Taro Delight LLC founder Tom Purdy has left the nest known as the Pacific Gateway Center and flown on to independence at a commercial kitchen from whence his taro-based food products are now being made.
Center officials describe his departure as a "graduation."
"Taro Delight has always brought a very professional touch to all they have done," said Executive Director Tin Myaing Thein in a statement. "Tom has worked to carefully refine his process and respond to his clients and the market. … This is a huge step in getting to the next level, (and) his PGC family wishes him all the best."
Purdy makes several flavors of dips and spreads that come in tubs and are multipurpose, as well as two flavors of mustard, and many are vegan or vegetarian.
Purdy's customers came first from isle farmers markets and then from his availability at retail, including at Down to Earth in Moiliili, Tamura's Fine Wines & Liquors in Kaimuki and Aikahi, and Whole Foods Market in Kahala. "I am definitely working on more," he said.
Purdy's Taro Delights also are available at farmers markets at Windward Mall on Wednesday nights, in Kailua on Thursday nights, at Kapiolani Community College on Saturday mornings and the first and third Thursdays of the month at the Fresh Market at Kaiser Permanente on Pensacola Street.
Taro Delight devotees are as far-flung as New Zealand, as evidenced by a request for a taro poke recipe that Sharon McKenzie sent to Star-Advertiser food columnist Betty Shimabukuro last year. The vegetarian poke, with limu, is a farmers market exclusive, and "it's probably my most popular product," Purdy said.
A lady from Kentucky contacted him recently to ask whether she could find his products somewhere near her neck of the woods. "It's a fresh-only product, as it has no preservatives," and shipping it far away just wouldn't do.
"She'll just have to come back to Hawaii," your columnist suggested.
"That's what she said," Purdy replied.
He started at PGC about five years ago working for Pacifikool president and ginger syrup maker Cheryl To.
"She gave me a tremendous amount of information," he said, teaching him where to go for permitting, various clearances and other steps necessary to build a food business. He decided to take those steps and go in his own direction, about which you have just read.
The Pacific Gateway Center gave Purdy the tools and a foundation on which to build his business. "They have a very helpful staff in the office. They can give you what you need," he said, while other users of the center share their experiences and referrals. "That's one of the best things," he said.
Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.