Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chef Kevin Ives

Merriman’s Kauai is very proud to have Executive Chef Kevin Ives showcasing his culinary talents in our kitchen. Before living on Kauai, he previously held the title of Executive Chef at the Merriman’s restaurant in Kapalua, Maui.
  Chef Ives has commanded the kitchen for many fine dining establishments and his credentials include such luxurious restaurants as L’Escalier at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, and The Ocean Room at the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.
Chef Ives holds a deep reverence, loyalty, and passion for supporting local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen and he takes pride in serving up the best of what Hawaii has to offer. As a Chef, Kevin credits mentor Peter Merriman as having instilled this level of respect early on in his career, when he opened Merriman’s Bamboo Bistro on Maui nine years ago. Since then, Chef Ives has held true to his passions for procuring the finest local ingredients available and presenting them with a minimalist touch. His background in cooking ranges from his family’s roots in North African, Mediterranean based cuisine to Southeast Asian, Spanish and French influences.

A history buff at heart, Chef Ives places a tremendous amount of emphasis on studying the origins of Regional Cuisine, and honoring the history and culture behind the dishes that inspire his amazing cuisine to this day.

Merriman’s Kauai is honored to have Chef Kevin Ives as the shining star at the forefront of Peter Merriman’s “Farm to Table” vision at our beautiful Kauai location.

1. Favorite foods growing up ? Grandmother's hand made couscous, my Dad's ribs

2. When did you decide you wanted to be a chef ? In high school. I was intrigued by the artistry of it. I knew I wanted to do something creative and make a good living at it.

3. When & where did your career in food begin? John's Island Club in Vero Beach , Florida, 1995

4. If you didn't become a Chef what would you be ? I wanted to be a photographer and had apprenticed with several. Most were doing wedding photography and high school graduation to pay the bills. This wasn't for me.

5. Who/what has shaped your cooking the most over the years? I've had several mentors. John Farnsworth at John's Island Club, Anthony Sicignano at the Breakers Hotel and Robert Wysong at the Kiawah Island. Each of these Chef's taught me something different. I owe these guys for my professionalism, integrity, discipline, and an unbreakable spirit.

6. What influences your cooking style & the menu at your restaurant ? The ingredients we have available to us from our local farmers and ranchers. Different ingredients speak to different styles to me. I tend to lean more towards mediterranean influences stylistically.

7. What are your favorite culinary weapons in the kitchen ? A hot saute pan, a determined, cocky cook and a wall of tickets!

8. What qualities do you look for when hiring cooks ? I look for someone who clearly doesn't need to be taught cleanliness. Dress for success is not just a catchy phrase. You can tell a lot about a cook by the way they dress for work.

9. Worst restaurant disaster ? I did a party for 500 people and depended on someone to cook the veal who I taught that day, how to sous vide. Bad call !!

10. Your beverage of choice ? Burgundy and Rioja for the civilized days, corona and firefly vodka for the not so civilized ones.

11. Must haves in your fridge ? Cheese. For all major holidays, my wife orders me mail order artisanal cheeses. I love the way they stink up my fridge !

12. Favorite places to eat ? Hole in the wall Vietnamese & Mexican restaurants. I'm a sucker for a bucket of steamed clams and some ice cold beer too.

13. Which foreign country inspires your style the most ? Probably Spain for the last 3 years.

14. Best cooking tip for a home enthusiast ? Buy high quality equipment. Garbage pans , knives and cutting boards produce garbage food. Respect your equipment the way you do your food.

15. What do you eat when you are at home ? A lot of yogurt, tons of orange juice and eggs.

16. Least favorite foods ? Tofu and tuna salad.

17. Best meal you ever had ?  Cyrus restaurant, Sonoma last year.

18. What is more important for a chef technique or ingredients ? Ingredients. You can manipulate garbage ingredients with technique, but anyone who knows what they're eating can still pick out bad ingredients.

19. Most challenging meal you had to make and why ? Fist dinner for my wife's family. Her mom's kitchen was not exactly prepared for a professional chef. See Question # 14.......

20. What is the one rule or value you try to instill in all of your staff ?  Work clean, be organized.

21. Favorite secret ingredient ? Garlic Confit

22. What are some recent dining and culinary trends you have been observing ? Return to regionally inspired comfort food. Simply prepared, recognizable dishes done very well with painstaking attention to detail.

23. Where were you born and raised ? Vero Beach, Florida, raised in Cleveland, Ohio.

24. Where did you get your training ? Mostly South Florida. I have however worked in Hawaii twice, the  Virgin Islands, Florida and South Carolina.

25. Places you have worked ? John"s Island Club, The Breaker's Hotel, Peter Merriman Restaurants, The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island.

26. Committed or Single ? Happily married for 7 years

27. Kid's? How many ? 2 children, 1 girl, 1 boy. Both are clearly my penance for a wild youth......

28. Your favorite dish on your menu ? I love the grilled eggplant flatbread in our cafe. It's amazing. No really.....AMAZING !!

29. Any menu items for health conscious customers ? Many. Peter puts a strong focus on what he calls " Wahine Friendly Food ". My style of cooking is very clean. I don't go through a lot of cream and butter in my kitchen. I would use a vegetable juicer over stock and cream as a basis for a sauce every time, if I could.

30. What do you do when you have spare time ? Spend time with my wife and kids. Lots of beach time, lots of hiking and exploring. I'm kind of a book worm too so I try to read every chance I get.

31. Please share with us any other information that might be of interest to our readers.  I have been working on my sommelier certification for the last year and a half. I've done some wine studies with the CIA in Napa as  well, and took the Court Of Sommelier's course and exam last year. I hope to take my level 1 certification this year.

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