George Mavrothalassitis

Basil salmon terrine

As one of the original members of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine, Chef George Mavrothalassitis was able to open up his own restaurant named Chef Mavro.  He was recently given the Best Chef Award in Hawaii and Pacific Northwest, by the world renowned James Beard Foundation.  Now the restaurant has already garnered numerous achievements, including earning a Five-Diamond Rating given by the American Automobile Association or AAA in the year 2009, an 18/20 rating from the famous Gayot Restaurant Critics, and standing as the only restaurant in Hawaii who has entered the list of America’s Top 40 restaurants for 2008-2009.

Being raised in Marseilles, chef Mavrothalassitis grew up in a world of fishmongers and farm-fresh flavours that only Southern France can offer.  His signature culinary masterpieces can be traced back to his training and apprenticeship from contemporary French cuisine masters.  His years of experience from managing Mavro Restaurant in Marseilles, as well as Restaurant La Presqu’ile in the seaside community of Cassis also served him well in his culinary career.

Chef Mavro notes that one of his influences in his culinary career has been his life in Hawaii.  He always remembers how one morning in Honolulu, he stared at the sunrise over the Waikiki Beach to the Diamond Head and mumbled to himself that this was the place he can call home.  From that day onwards, the multi-cultured people and cuisine of Hawaii has been part of Chef Mavro’s heart, and he became especially close to groups of specialty fisherman and boutique farmers, who would eventually be his restaurant’s primary suppliers.

In order to give tribute to his loyal agents, Chef Mavro gathered them on the 5th Anniversary of his restaurant and had them gathered around a Chef’s Table to personally thank them for being the pillars of his success.  The people around Chef Mavro have truly paved the way to his success, people such as vanilla farmer Jim Reddekop, who has long been associated with Chef Mavro in opening the vanilla industry in Honolulu, as well as in New York.  Quality is always his top priority, as exemplified by one of his regular fish supplier, Don Leong (Wing Sing Seafood), who says that Chef Mavro has always been very picky with buying seafood.

Chef Mavro also quotes: “Sometimes buying local means the cost is higher and sometimes it takes more time but the reward is huge. Local farmers succeed and my guests enjoy fresh, regional ingredients and a dining experience they could have only in Hawaii…”

Based on this and all the food preparation standards set by Chef Mavro, we could say that this restaurant the only one of its kind who truly focuses in the quality and freshness of the food they serve, as well as their unique way of presentation.  A good example would be their food and wine pairing: unlike other restaurants who offer a separate list of wines, their menu selection will always have a wine suggestion that would be a perfect match for the said meal.  On four Mondays each year, the restaurant is closed in order to hold a meeting with his staff, which includes waiters, cooks, as well as food and wine coordinators.  It is in this time that Chef Mavro carries out a blind taste test for his wide array of wines in conjunction with his recipes.  Whatever food and wine pairing will be chosen via democratic voting will be served to guests for a total of three months.

Up to this moment, Chef Mavro still serves as a consultant for Hawaii’s culinary affairs and occasionally takes time to talk to new chefs and provide them with advice.  He has also been able to hold many cooking classes for his staff and even provided master courses in many reputable culinary centers.  Charitable activities have also been part of his itinerary, with focus given primarily on Hawaii Public Radio (HPR) and of course culinary arts.  The restaurant also becomes the grounds for HPR’s fundraising activities which are held two times a year and many other significant events in Hawaii as well.

In the year 2004, his restaurant has been also the venue for holding cooking classes “A-la-Food Network”.  Classes for the year 2008 accepted many reservations through Gourmet Cooking Hawaii.  Meanwhile, “Cooking for the Love of It!” provided culinary enthusiasts with an exclusive experience with Chef Mavro, and also provided them with comprehensive demonstrations, food tastings, as well as a sumptuous gourmet lunch which includes a perfect match of their wine offerings.  And don’t’ forget the fun and exciting stories that Chef Mavro is very well known for!

Caroline Bates, who has served as Gourmet Magazine’s veteran critic, has described that Honolulu has never had a chef in the person of George Mavrothalassitis, that the combination of his creative culinary skills and exceptional standards have granted the city a dining experience similar to that of France’s three-star restaurants. Even gourmet editors agree that they would spend their time dining at Chef Mavro if they only had one night to spend in Honolulu.

Chef Mavro has been featured a number of times not only at New York’s James Beard Foundation and its annual Editor’s Dinner, but as well as a featured guest on CNN, the Food Network, “Home Matters” from Discovery Channel, Travel Channel’s “The Tourist”, “Great Chefs in America” by PBS, and NBC’s Travel Café, among others.  He was also categorized as America’s Top Six Chefs, as noted in a cover story on food and wine pairing masters as published by the Wine Spectator magazine.  For NY Times veteran food critic R.W. Apple, he labeled Chef Mavro restaurant with “the top mark”, while Bon Appetit food columnist Martin Booe described it as “Hawaiian cuisine meets a master’s technique.”  For Ted and Matt Lee, columnists at Travel and Leisure, they quoted: “at Mavro we found our culinary Valhalla.”

Chef Mavro restaurant was Hawaii’s pioneer in offering culinary lessons through streaming video in the internet.  On the website, you can see Chef Mavro concocting his culinary masterpiece called Onaga Baked in Hawaiian Salt Crust, surprisingly while riding the Waikiki waves.

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