John Heckathorn Reports...


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On Valentine’s Day

“Martyrs for Love,” Foreword, February 1997

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day. It’s not really a holiday for one thing. You still have to work. And you incur all sorts of other obligations, especially if you are male.

When you are single, Valentine’s Day is perhaps an opportunity. But if you have finally matured into the world of committed relationships, Valentine’s is not really an opportunity to succeed in the romantic sphere. Instead it becomes a chance to fail spectacularly.


illustration: michel v.m. lÊ

On the Romance of Chef Mavro Restaurant

“Room at the Top?” Dining, March 1999

I had a cheese course that just knocked me out. It was a small block of blue cheese from Bresse (that’s a region in France, also famous for chickens). The cheese was wrapped up in phyllo dough, so it looked like a birthday present, baked. It was so sharp and rich and perfectly matched with the glass of Gigondas Rhône red it came with, I had to fight my local food consultant for it.

“Order your own,” I said.

“I’m not that hungry,” she said, though that didn’t deter her from eating most of mine.

The marriage, emperiled by the blue cheese conflict, was saved by the décor of the restaurant. Since Mavro put the restaurant together in two months, most of which he spent on Maui, he was forced to let decorator Mary Philpotts make most of the decisions. She rendered the tiny 68-seat space elegant without being austere. The only thing Mavro asked was that the lighting make women look beautiful. And it does—so much so, I was willing to forgive my local food consultant’s theft of my blue cheese, though her sleeveless black dress, very tight, with silver dragons embroidered across the front, may have had something to do with it. Also her generosity in sharing her own dinner.


photo: thinkstock

On the Closing of the Swiss Inn

“Auf Wiedersehen,” Dining, October 2000

After 18 years, the Swiss Inn is closing. The end of October.

A last-minute sale might save it. Maybe. But in any case, Martin and Jeanie Wyss are retiring. And so while there may possibly be a Swiss Inn, it won’t be one where Martin cooks every meal and a smiling Jeanie goes from table to table, chatting with the customers as if they were guests in her own home. …

Of all the hundreds of restaurants that have closed in the last 20 years, I’ll miss this one the most.


On Christmas after September 11

Editor’s Page, December 2001

I am looking forward to the lights going on in Bishop Square, and then all over downtown Honolulu. This is a dark time, one of the darkest many of us have lived through. What we want most for Christmas, whether we know it or not, is for the lights to go on all over the world.

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