Made in Hawaii Recipe: Kalapawai Cafe

The 15th annual Made in Hawaii Festival takes place August 20-22 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center. Festival-goers will enjoy shopping for a selection of ono food, books, unique gifts, arts & crafts, music, plants, jewelry and more. A highlight of the festival each year is the cooking demonstrations from some of Hawaii’s finest chefs.


Cooking demonstrations are made possible with the support of the participating restaurants and the Department of Agriculture’s Hawaii Seal of Quality program.

Chef John Memering, the executive chef of Kalapawai Cafe & Deli  will present the final cooking demonstration of the festival on Sunday, August 22 at 2 p.m.

Grilled Local catch marinated with lemon and herbs,
served on grilled ratatouille salad

Recipe serves 4

Start with 1 1/2 Lbs. Locally caught, firm flesh fish (such as Ahi, Shutome, Opah or Monchong)

For marinade

2 teaspoons each: chopped fresh Italian parsley, marjoram, rosemary and oregano
3 each lemons, cut into 1" slices, ends discarded
2 each bay leaves, crumbled
1 Tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped fine
1 teaspoon each; fresh ground black pepper and crushed red pepper
1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients, trim and portion fish into 4-6 ounce portions. Marinate fish at least 3 hours before grilling.

For the salad

1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow zucchini or summer squash
1 medium long eggplant
1/2 sweet onion
1 sweet red pepper
2 vine ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup Garlic Confit (recipe follows)
2 Tablespoons kosher or sea salt
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

The finished product. Photo: Anne Lee

Cut the ends off the squash, eggplant and cut in half lengthwise along with the tomato. Cut the red pepper in half, remove seeds and cut each half in half. Cut the onion into 4 thick slices and place all cut veggies on a cookie sheet big enough to accommodate room for them to be moved around. With a pastry or basting brush, brush all sides of the veggies with some of the reserved garlic confit oil and aggressively season with the salt.

Over high heat on gas or BBQ grill, cook the veggies in batches, first the squash and eggplant then the onions, peppers then tomatoes. The squash, eggplant and tomatoes should be removed from the grill before being fully cooked.

Allow the veggies to cool slightly and cut into medium sized cubes and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the chopped basil, garlic confit, black pepper and additional salt if needed, toss gently and keep warm.

Remove fish and lemon slices from the marinade and allow most of the oil to drain off, discard marinade.

Place fish on grill over high heat. Grill approximately 2-2 1/2 minutes per side. Once the fish has been turned add the reserved lemon slices and grill them on both sides (about 1 1/2 minutes per side).

Garlic Confit

1/2 cup garlic cloves, papery husks removed
1 cup Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 bay leaf

Place all ingredients in small saucepan over low heat and allow to slow cook for 45-1 hour. Garlic should be soft but not mushy. Keep covered in refer for up to 2 weeks

Place an equal amount of the salad on four warmed serving plates, top with the grilled fish, garnish with grilled lemon slices, a drizzle of garlic confit oil and fresh sprig of basil.

About the chef


John Memering, Kalapawai Cafe & Deli

Chef John Memering has been in the kitchen for over 20 years and has opened numerous restaurants in the Portland, Oregon, area as well as trained in United States and across Europe. Prior to opening Kalapawai Cafe in 2006, John spent time in Alan Wong’s King Street kitchen, Mid-Pacific Country Club and as a Chef Instructor for the University of Hawaii.

The Cafe’s eclectic menu is a blend of John’s love of world cuisine and his use of seasonal products from Hawaii’s farms and ocean. He promotes sustainable agriculture whenever possible, "you have to give back at some point", he says, "whether it be nature or society".

Chef John is the executive chef of Kalapawai Cafe & Deli, located at 750 Kailua Road right off the Pali in Kailua. Call 808-262-DELI or visit for more information.

The Made in Hawaii Festival Cooking Demonstrations are coordinated by HONOLULU Magazine and are sponsored in part by the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture’s Hawaii Seal of Quality program. All of the recipes featured include farm fresh Made in Hawaii local produce or seafood resources.

The Hawaii Seal of Quality  represents the cream of the crop of Hawaii’s agricultural producers. It was established to protect the integrity and value of the marketing cachet for Hawaii branded farm and value-added products.  Products with this seal are genuine, Hawai’i-grown or Hawai’i-made premium products, a guarantee that is enforced by the State of Hawaii.

When choosing your ingredients, consider the Hawaii Seal of Quality. For more information, visit: