At the Market: Loho Street Farms
The former chef/owner of Cactus Bistro now makes handcrafted jams, jellies, mustards and sauces in unique flavor combinations.
John Memering left Cactus Bistro in 2014 and started his own gourmet foods line called Loho Street Farms. He sells his jams, jellies, pickles and sauces at various farmers markets.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox
Where has John Memering been?
I’ve asked myself—and others—that question ever since the gregarious chef/owner of Cactus Bistro stepped away from the popular Kailua restaurant in November 2014.
Turns out, Memering has been making handcrafted, farm-to-jar jams, jellies, chutneys, mustards, sauces and soups that he sells at various Hawai‘i Farm Bureau Federation farmers markets around O‘ahu.
It’s something he started about six years ago, when he was running Kalapawai Café & Deli. But he had too much going on, with running the kitchen, to continue making these concoctions for the line he called Loho Street Farms. (He lives on Loho Street in Kailua.) So he put it on the back burner.
After leaving Catcus Bistro in 2014, Memering did some consulting work, but it wasn’t enough to pay the bills. So, in September, he resurrected Loho Street Farms and starting selling his products at three markets a week. He now has about 25 different products including pickles and kim chee.
“Hello, ladies,” Memering says with a big grin to two women who walk up to his table at the farmers market outside the Blaisdell Concert Hall yesterday. “Welcome to my madness.”
The various products Memering makes and sells, including pickles and chutneys.
His madness is genius: He has created a line of tasty, handcrafted products that combine unique ingredients in surprising ways. His nontraditional kim chee has broccoli, green papaya, cabbage and carrots. He offers jams in flavors that include pineapple and wild hibiscus, Korean white melon, cucumber and jalapeño peppers. His red chili adobo is, he says, the first steps to making Mexican mole. And his latest concoction is a pineapple-mango jam that he cooked too long—until it sort of caramelized—and combined with fresh Thai ginger.
His best-selling product is his Kunia pineapple jam. He uses green pineapples, which have more acid, and adds liliko‘i and Hawaiian chili peppers. It’s a play on pepper jelly.
Most of his products run from $5 to $10, with others, including his vegan soup starters, running as high as $22 for a jar.
One of his newer products is mustard—and he makes several varieties using local ingredients.
He sources a lot of his ingredients from small farms on O‘ahu, even growing his own cucumbers, peppers and herbs.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” Memering says.
Loho Street Farms, 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays at the Blaisdell Concert Hall; 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at 609 Kailua Road; 7:30 to 11 a.m. at Kapi‘olani Community College, instagram.com/lohostreetfarms
At the Market is an occasional feature that showcases the vendors at Hawai‘i’s farmers markets.