Hotel Mana Maui Gets a Culinary Lift

It seems that this economic shift we're currently experiencing has provoked a number of changes within the travel industry as of late. Some have been good, some bad. Since we like to focus on the positive here at B on Hawaii, we thought we'd share one of the good.

Keith Mallini, the food and beverage maven who re-shaped the Sheraton's Hanohano Room from tired to trendy, did the same for at the Royal Kona Resort on the Big Island, and finally, launched Beachhouse at the Moana Surfrider, has left corporate America for the seclusion of the Hotel Hana Maui. Mallini, who was raised between Hawaii and New Orleans, will oversee all culinary and wine program happenings at the hotel, which had a need for such a boost after venerable chef David Patterson left earlier this year.

What will be changing at the bucolic, serene hotel? Good question, we asked the same.

"All the components are here for a wonderful dining experience," said Mallini via telephone interview. "It just needs a little push and some polish. What the hotel in general has been missing is more of an interactive experience for guests. We're looking to do wine tastings paired with talk stories of the area--which is so rich. And chef Fox is making the move [this week] to do some more small plate oriented dinners, which will allow patrons to sample more of Hana's produce. The hotel will become more of a food and wine destination."

The Fox Mallini referred to is incumbent chef John Cox, who took over for Patterson. Fox had most recently been employed by Noble House resorts, where he oversaw the kitchens of 12 properties across the nation. Having graduated from culinary school with former Hana Maui chef Patterson--and work along side him--Cox will continue to use as much local (procured from or near Hana) product as possible. According to Mallini, the hotel uses 90% Hana-attained food, including beef and game from the Hana Ranch, boar and lamb from Haleakala Ranch.

The Hotel Hana Maui also recently received a new general manager, John Stoddard, who moved from L.A., where he managed a number of reputable hotels.

Mallini's move away from the Westin Moana Surfrider, and the highly corporate environment of Starwood Hawaii, was partially what fueled the move, according to Mallini.

"At a property like the Hotel Hana Maui, it's wonderful to not have to pass every little decision through a dozen hands before anything is executed. That huge corporation structure just breeds a breakdown in communication, and streamlining of the dining experience--which should be intimate and memorable."

"The hotel will become more of a food and wine destination."

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