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‘Da kine grinds’ found at Maui’s tiny, home-style restaurants

Dino’s food truck in Kahului serves a fish plate with fresh caught, local fish. Chef Dino Zagouras is a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and has worked at several top Manhattan restaurants. AYA GANZ photo

There are hundreds of food trucks on Maui. I’m getting to know the owners and finding out what inspired them to create their food vision on wheels.

Maui food trucks are birthed in tradition and are multi-cultural. They are colorful, individual and irresistible. Where fast foods fails, food trucks can cater to our deeper love of whole foods. Food trucks are here to save us from another fast food fail.

Owning a brick and mortar restaurant may not be accessible to most chefs and wannabe foodies. Food trucks make the dream of owning a restaurant possible. You can get some “da kine grinds” at these tiny, home-style restaurants:

Chef Dino Zagouras serves Greek and Mediterranean style food — with an extra helping of heart at Dino’s, 591 Haleakala Highway in Kahului. Dino’s menu is inspired by his home country of Greece. The ingredients he serves are local, some of them are grown in his backyard. His “old-world” style sets the standard with breads and sauces made from scratch. Dino is a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and has worked at several top Manhattan restaurants. Chef Dino’s dedication to great taste and style is experienced with each plate.

He opened his food truck five years ago. I had fresh-caught local fish, and chips. Fantastic. I also recommend his very strong, sweet black iced coffee, it was a great pick-me-up in the midday heat downtown.

I sat down with the chef and owner of Nui’s Garden Kitchen at 151 Pulehunui Road in Kula. Kittinan Kalajakawan was born in Thailand and has been on the island since the ’90s. Kit, as he likes to be called, is a graduate of Maui High and The Culinary Institute of the Pacific on Oahu. His truck sits on his family-owned-and-operated farm.

“My passion of cooking is working in the kitchen and training myself by doing. It’s my grandmother’s recipes that started coming out through me, because I use to be in the kitchen with her a lot and I think about her and what she would have done.”

The majority of Kit’s ingredients are grown on the land right where we sat; incorporating what is seasonal and fresh. As my lunch was being made, Kit went and picked fresh herbs for my dishes. I had the chicken curry and the tom- yum soup. Both were sublime. “I’m trying to feed people and show people what we can do from seeds, because I’m also a farmer,” said Kit. A great stop for lunch on the way down from Haleakala summit.

FOOD EVENTS THIS WEEK

On Tuesday, 32 of Maui’s most popular restaurants will participate in the 10th annual Dine Out for Hospice Maui. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Hospice Maui. See complete list of participant restaurants at hospicemaui.org.

Also this week, The Hawaii Farmers Union United 9th annual Farmers Convention will take place Friday through Sunday at Mahi Pono Community Farmlands in Puunene. The theme, “Farm as Eco System,” speaks to our living relationship with the place where we grow our food. This annual convention represents what is possible and how diverse our agricultural systems are on island.

The event will be held on what will soon be the “Community Farmland Project.” This will be the first opportunity to interact with the producers, who are looking to provide agricultural value to our island home through their agricultural livelihoods. This is an event for local gardeners and foodies to attend, as well as expert growers and chefs.

I spoke with the head of the of the HFUU on Maui, Vincent Mina, to take a closer look into the event.

Mina is also a local farmer with his family-owned company Kahanu Aina Greens. He grows sunflower sprouts and sells them island wide.

The relationship between the soil, healthy food, regenerating the life of the land and making Maui sustainable are at the core of his vision. This event is not to be missed! It’s a three-day-calendar of outdoor events that shine with a promise for the future of Maui. And the view from the convention’s location in the valley is epic.