Pork Quesadilla Recipe with Hawaiian Twist from Merriman’s Honolulu


Kalua Pig Quesadillas

You could say that chef and restaurateur Peter Merriman celebrates the farmers as much, if not more than, the tantalizing Hawaiian regional cuisine his restaurants have become known for. Located in the hip urban-island Ward Village, Merriman’s Honolulu is a fine dining restaurant that epitomizes the farm to table and ocean to plate dining movement -- not just on Oahu, but throughout the Hawaiian islands. My husband and photographer, John Ivanko, sampled the myriad flavors the menu offers on a recent trip to Oahu.

Merriman’s restaurants started more than thirty years ago, on the Big Island of Hawaii, way before islanders were buzzing about fresh greens or vine ripened tomatoes. A Pittsburgh native himself, Merriman fell in love with everything Hawaii, from the people to the native dishes. Unfortunately, he discovered that most food on the islands was shipped in from thousands of miles away, ever since the pineapple and sugar cane plantation era largely wiped out local food production.

Merriman's Honolulu Restaurant 

Merriman decided to begin to change that with his first restaurant. As a chef, his core tenant remains to support local farmers who were willing to grow vegetables and fruits in the rich volcanic soil, or raise pastured meat products on the rolling ranchlands. Added to this is local fish harvested in season, again, a pioneering direction when the restaurant was starting out. Today, Merriman is a leading restauranteur in Hawaii with a portfolio of establishments that feature hyper-local sourcing of fresh, seasonal produce, pastured meats and seafood sustainably harvested in the warm waters of Hawaii.

He joins other forward-thinking chefs increasingly taking a leadership role in the local food movement. As we’ve written about, from Yucatán-born chef Mateo Granados in Healdsburg, California, creatively using the whole animal in his dishes, to Chef Chris Sherrill at CoastAL on Alabama’s Gulf Shore, serving up invasive species like Lionfish, Merriman adds his vision to this mix to recreate a vibrant local farming scene on the islands.

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