comscore Women, not barefoot, but in the kitchen | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Women, not barefoot, but in the kitchen

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    courtesy susan feniger Susan Feniger, who gained television fame as half of the "Too Hot Tamales," has tried to learn all aspects of the food industry, starting with dishwashing.

Everyone’s got roots and influences that drive their passion. And when it comes to cooking food, the tie that binds for many female chefs seems to be the humble and practical aspects of the kitchen, no matter that they’re creating gourmet products.

That’s certainly the case for the female chefs who will share the fruits of their labor at the "Girls Got Game" brunch Sept. 9 at Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa.

Chefs Christina Tosi, owner of Momofuku Milk Bar in New York; Susan Feniger, co-host of "Too Hot Tamales" and owner of STREET and Border Grill restaurants; and Joanne Chang, owner of Flour Bakery+Cafe and Myers+Chang in Boston, will join Hawaii’s Jacqueline Lau, corporate executive chef of Roy’s Restaurants, to create dishes for the Sunday brunch.

Their dishes will feature products provided by female Hawaii farmers such as Michelle Galimba of Kuahiwi Ranch, Lesley Hill of Wai­lea Agricultural Group, Shin Ho of Shin Farms, Candy Suiso of Makaha Mangoes and Monique van der Stroom and Sabrina St. Martin of Naked Cow Dairy.


Gear up for the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival with cooking demonstrations at noon Saturday. Visit for information about the four-day event, which runs Sept. 6-9.

>> As part of Foodland’s “Hawaii’s Farmers & Chefs” series, Ed Kenney of town will cook a recipe highlighting the fresh produce of Ma‘o Organic Farms. Kenney will be at Foodland’s Market City location. The event is free.

>> At Macy’s Ala Moana Center, chef Mark Noguchi of Hanohano He‘eia will prepare a Shinsato Farms Luau Stew. Seating begins at 11:30 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Admission is a $5 donation to benefit the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation.


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Feniger, who has been in the culinary business for some 35 years, says her earliest influence was her mother, who kept their home filled with visitors who enjoyed her food.

"In some ways there is a tie-in because my mom loved things really well seasoned. I think my taste for strong flavors came from her in a big way," Feniger said via email.

Tosi, meanwhile, is known for her dessert creations crafted from ordinary pantry items. Her infamous Compost Cookie combines rolled oats with coffee grounds, potato chips and pretzels. She says that when concocting a new recipe, "inspirations come from everywhere": a restaurant dish, a favorite snack, a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

"I love the kitchen cupboard approach to crafting a new recipe," Tosi said via email. "The challenge of making ‘something’ out of ‘nothing’ is my never-ending quest."

Feniger says that when she started out, the culinary world was much more of a man’s domain, but she wasn’t daunted by that fact.

"My goal was to learn everything about food, from pastries to butchering to filleting fish, to being on the line, dishwasher, and I was barely aware that being a woman made any difference," she recalled. "I was truly focused on a bigger picture."

Yet Feniger acknowledges that being female probably does affect the way she interacts in the kitchen.

"As a woman in the industry, I think I might be more aware of how people feel. That has always been my perspective. I want to hear people, what they have to say, how they feel, if there are issues, what I can do to help," she said. "I feel like we have tried to create an environment that is respectful, loving, feels like family. That seems to me very female. But, believe me, I know there are women who don’t necessarily pre­sent that same sensibility, and men who do!"

Like Feniger, Hill of Wai­lea Ag Farm has been in her field for four decades. In 1972 at age 21, she started her first farm in Hawaii and was the lone woman among male farmers leading the community. Today female farmers are one of the few growing demo­graph­ics in farming nationwide. Hill said she believes that, in general, women have an affinity for farming.

"There’s a basic nurturing nature about women that lends them to be particularly good farmers. The role of farmer is assumed to be a man’s role, but we’re not ‘farm-ettes.’ We’re full-fledged farmers," she said.

Both Tosi and Feniger are glad to be working with products from women.

"I love that we get to be part of the ‘Girls Got Game’ brunch, featuring our skills and points of view on food with the labor of love of the other women, what they’ve literally grown and created, side by side," said Tosi.

"There’s something very special to supporting other women, especially in a profession that is typically know to be male-dominated," said Feniger.



Visit for event details and to purchase tickets. Package deals are also available.


» "Kamehameha Schools presents: The Bounty of He‘eia II" (8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Heeia, $100): Tour the Heeia ahupuaa with guides who work the land and sea there. Learn about dry taro pounding and how to make poke, awa and steamed moi. Then taste Heeia’s bounty, prepared by Kealoha Domingo.

» "Enter the MODERN Dragon: Morimoto & Friends" (6 to 9 p.m., The MODERN Honolulu, $200, $300 VIP): Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto leads 12 chefs of the Asia and Pacific region at this dinner, including Marco Anzani, Joanne Chang, Chai Chaowasaree, Roy Choi, Peter Doyle, Edward Kwon, Charles Phan, Scott Toner, Ming Tsai and Sang Yoon.


» "The Patron Spirits Company presents: Streets of Fire — Roy Choi’s Tacos and Tequila!" (10 p.m. to 2 a.m., M at Waterfront Plaza, $150): See story, "Tall Order."

» "Mix with the Masters: A Delicious Day of Demos, Talks and Lunch": Sold out

» "Second Annual Halekulani Master Chefs Gala Series: Chefs Who Have Cooked for Presidents and Royalty": Sold out


» "A Tale of Three Terroirs: The Vision of Marchesi Antinori" (11 a.m. to noon, Halekulani, $150): Side-by-side, vertical tasting of Antinori’s Tignanello, Solaia and Guado al Tasso. Master sommeliers Roberto Viernes, Joseph Spellman and Richard Betts will walk guests through the tasting.

» "Paradise Lost, Then Found: The evolution of the classic Hawaiian cocktail" (11 a.m. to noon, Halekulani, $75): Master mixologists Julie Reiner and Francesco Lafranconi prepare classic cocktails.

» "My Favorite Wine Producer in the World" (12:30 to 1:30 p.m., Halekulani, $100): Master sommeliers Roberto Viernes, Joseph Spellman and Richard Betts share their favorites and lead a discussion and tasting of the wines.

» "From Farm to Table: A Makahiki Festival" (6 to 9 p.m., Hilton Hawaiian Village, $200, $500 VIP): Features the cuisine of more than 20 renowned chefs, including Michael Ginor (Lola in New York), Robert Irvine (Food Network’s "Restaurant: Impossible"), Ed Kenney (town), Jon Matsubara (AZURE), Nancy Silverton (Mozza, Los Angeles), Mark Noguchi (Hanohano He‘eia), Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto, New York), Toshihiko Yoroizuka (Toshi Yoroizuka, Japan) and Ken Oringer (Toro, Boston).

» "The Five Kings of Champagne Krug … The Ultimate Hand!": Sold out


» "Macy’s presents: Girls Got Game!" (11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Hyatt Regency, $85): See story above.

» "Cuisines of the Stars: A Magical Journey of Food & Culture" (6 to 9 p.m., Ko Olina Resort with Aulani and Ihilani Resort, $200, $500 VIP): Renowned chefs will create ethnic dishes. Lineup includes Patrick Callarec (Aulani), Celestino Drago (Drago Restaurant Group, Los Angeles), Scott Higa (Ihilani), Jacqueline Lau (Roy’s Restaurants), George Mavrothalassitis (Chef Mavro), Hiroyuki Sakai (La Rochelle, Japan) and Marcel Vigneron ("Top Chef Bravo").


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