A crossover of chefs bring Hawaiian food to Calgary
By Will Tigley
Photos by Winifrey Valencia
A group of Filipino chefs brought a little aloha sunshine to Calgary in the middle of a cold February. On February 6 and 7, Calgary’s Jay del Corro from Eats of Asia and Jeff Carlos from The Bro’Kin Yolk were joined by Jan Michael Reyes from Loco Ono Kitchen in Vancouver and Mike Ramos a chef from Toronto to host a Hawaiian Crossover Pop-Up.
Held at The Bro’Kin Yolk, the tasting menu was made up of seven dishes from the four chefs that featured popular Hawaiian flavours.
“Mike and I had the idea to do a Hawaiian pop-up with Jeff and by coincidence he had been talking to Jan Michael from Loco Ono on collaborating,” says del Corro. “So at that point we decided to do it all together.”
For Ramos and Reyes, the event was an opportunity to bring their skills to Calgary and showcase good Hawaiian food.
“When I was given the opportunity to come together to bring Hawaiian Grindz , I couldn’t say no,” says Ramos who brought his Ahi Poke, Garlic Shrimp Scampi and Spam Musubi to the dinner. “Ahi Poke was an obvious choice for me because bringing Poke to Calgary was the reason I came here.”
While Ramos has had a lot of experience in Hawaiian kitchens in Toronto at establishments like Pokito and Likos Hawaiian BBQ, Reyes brought his skill from Vancouver where he’s highlighted his Hawaiian dishes at other similar pop-ups.
Reyes chose to cook two common dishes: The Kalua Pork and Hawaiian Mac Salad, a familiar dish at luaus but with a smokier and flavourful difference to the pulled pork that Albertans are used to, and the Mochiko Chicken, a combination of Hawaiian and Filipino influences.
“The Mochiko Chicken was one of my most popular dishes when I did a pop-up last year back home in Vancouver,” says Reyes. “I really wanted to try the dish out for a new audience.”
Of all the chefs, Carlos was the only one who hadn’t been to Hawaii, but he looked at this pop-up experience as a chance to envision being on the island through the food.
“Tasting the flavours of everyone’s dishes helped me understand a little bit of Hawaii,” says Carlos.
His contribution of the Lomi Salmon and Poi was what he imagines at luaus and staples to Hawaii.
“The Coconut Crepe was my crossover part,” explains Carlos. “I wanted to mix Hawaiian flavours with a breakfast feel.”
“It was something I’ve always wanted to do because I love the Cheung Fun from dim sum with the goopy peanut sauce and hoisin,” says del Corro. “I wanted to give it a light treatment with vegetable and a cool Vietnamese inspired vinaigrette. Kind of like dressing up to go out someplace fancy.”
The entire evening was a great opportunity for the chefs to share new flavours and foods with Calgary that are special to their memories and thoughts of Hawaii.
“Hawaii has always been for me the best place in America to be Asian,” says del Corro. “It’s a unique melting pot that can be both sophisticated and blue collar. It’s distinctive and has a very deep soul food quality to it.”
Chefs explain their dishes before service.
Presenting the Kalua Pork with the Hawaiian Mac Salad.
Plating the first dish of Lomi Salmon and Poi.
The Spam Musubi at the centre of the Ahi Poke and Garlic Shrimp Scampi dish
Behind the counter with Chef Reyes and Chef del Corro.
Photo submitted by The Bro’Kin Ylk <the four chefs together>