Havens Maui Has Been Feeding Maui 500 Meals a Day With One Stove

Zach Sato is also still running his saimin and burger stand and truck. He tells us what it’s been like for the last nine days.
Havens Maui Relief Soup Or Curry Pc Havens Team
Photo courtesy of Havens team


Zach Sato is a Maui-born and -bred chef who lost a part of his childhood when Lahaina burned. The chef-owner of Havens Maui stepped up to cook for survivors and firefighters from day one, and immediately went a huge step further. Sato set up a GoFundMe to raise $250,000—enough money to buy ingredients, prep and cook for 500 people a day for the next five and a half months.


SEE ALSO: Who’s Cooking for Maui—and How You Can Help


He counts himself as lucky. Friends lost homes; others lost much more. Sato’s saimin and smash burger stand in Kihei and his food truck were spared. Like much of the island, he’s been crying a lot and recounts a nightmare this week of escaping with his family as flames engulf his house. Today marks nine days since the tragedy, nine days since Sato and his crew and volunteers joined the tremendous effort to take care of Maui. Here’s his story, as told to Frolic on Aug. 16.


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The morning we found out Lahaina was gone, Chef Hui asked everyone in a mass text, who can do 300 sandwiches right now? We can. We made 300 sandwiches, WCK (World Central Kitchen) came, we loaded them up with sandwiches and fruits, they went out to ground zero. Thursday, the second day, that was another on-the-fly day, so I bought a bunch of chicken from Costco, grilled it outside, sautéed some broccoli to make charred broccoli with chile flakes, butter, garlic and olive oil. That was our second morning. I had like three hours to put together 500 meals.


Lahaina is a big part of me. I used to live there. I grew up surfing there every summer as a kid til high school, just sleep in our cars, have parties. Lahaina was a part of every phase of my life. I felt like a piece of me got torn out. I just want to help people as much as possible down there.


I also have the resources behind me where the community, my family, allow me to, so I’m just going for it. I have a prep kitchen, I have lots of space, storage and cooking space. I have tons of friends and family—the [volunteer] spreadsheet filled up within hours for the next few weeks.


Havens Maui Relief Cooking Pc Havens Team

Photo: Courtesy of Havens team


As of now, I haven’t tapped any funds. Everything’s been out of pocket. I haven’t received anything yet from WCK. They’re supposed to pay me $3 a meal. For me, it doesn’t matter. I just want to help make sure people are comfortable. The whole island is on board. There’s a ton of people making it happen.


Maui Nui Venison donated about 500 pounds of ground venison so far. They’re at my fingertips right now, they said if I need any more, just let them know.


Okoa Farms has been dialing us in with fresh produce, kale, green beans, carrots, scallions. He also had his own problems due to the wind. He said he lost nearly half a million dollars of revenue from produce being uprooted. He’s giving it to me at the best cost he can.


Newport Meat donated couple hundred pounds ground beef. They’re also dropping off pallets of chicken and osso bucos and all kinds of random cuts. I have carte blanche on that. They’re like come down and just grab whatever I want.


Another food truck called Suns Out Buns Out, he went to Costco on his own dime and brought 10 bags of rice, 100 pounds of pork butt. We’ve had small businesses spending their own money and bringing things. Even though I say bring your receipts, they say they just want to help.


I’m getting a few DMs this morning about people thanking. I know Isaac [Bancaco, executive chef at Pacific‘o on the Beach, which was destroyed in the fire], he lost his home, he’s been going out there with the WCK distribution guys, he’s been telling them this is from Havens. I don’t care if my name gets out there or not. But when people say we had your chicken curry last night, was so good, our family loved it, makes me feel good.


Havens Relief Meals Pc Havens Team

Photo: Courtesy of Havens team


Everything is cooked from scratch. It’s healthy. We’re making sure there’s vegetables in every dish. We’re also doing vegetarian dishes on top of it. Protein with some kind of sauce, usually curry, stews, pastas. It’s a full, complete meal. They’re not huge or nothing like that, but it’s enough to get some food in your stomach and get you through the night.


Everything obviously has to be simple, because 500 is a lot, especially in our kitchen. I only have one oven and one range. Today, we did roast chicken congee, and we had a nice pohole fern salad to go with it with marinated tomatoes and onions, chile paste and cilantro. Pohole was from Becky Speere’s backyard. She’s the dining editor for No Ka Oi magazine.


I’m just trying to get organized. It’s been a lot. Plus I have two restaurants to plan and order food, make sauces, and with extra people I’m trying to find space to prep for the two restaurants. One of our volunteers has been coming every day. She just became our volunteer coordinator, so today was very smooth, very organized, the food went out in a timely manner. I feel good about it in the last couple of days.


We’re looking long term already. We’re not just relying on WCK so we’re not caught with our thumbs up our ass. People will be in their homes and condos and hotel rooms and trying to figure things out. They’re gonna need help if they can have a hot meal. We want to build a database long-term where we can have three or four pickup points on the west side so they can pick up their meals. We’d like to expand past 500 if that’s the need, but that’s what we’re going for now. It’s such a moving target. Every day’s a challenge for sure.


Tonight, we’re making posole for tomorrow, red chile posole. I’m trying to keep a rotation of good home-cooked meals, not the same things. We want to show our appreciation and our care.


Havens’ GoFundMe, @havens_ogg