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Firehouse-approved flavors to feature in cooking show

‘Cooking Hawaiian Style’ and host Lanai Tabura film on Maui

“Cooking Hawaiian Style” host Lanai Tabura (right) learns how Maui Historical Society Executive Director Sissy Lake-Farm makes Maui-style fried saimin while taping a show Wednesday at Kula Country Farms and Kaonoulu Ranch. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

KULA — Sissy Lake-Farm had an ace up her sleeve while making Maui-style fried saimin during Wednesday’s taping of “Cooking Hawaiian Style.”

During production breaks, the executive director of the Maui Historical Society received helpful coaching from her husband, retired Maui firefighter Kyle Farm. Frying saimin is something he and fellow firefighters perfected in firehouse kitchens through the years. The key, he says, is pre-soaking the noodles in a special blend of shoyu, oyster sauce, sesame oil, vegetable oil and garlic powder.

“I’m glad he could come and be my food coach,” Lake-Farm said with a laugh. “He’s the cook in the house. He’s enjoyed cooking all his life. As a retired fireman, he’s used to cooking for a lot of people.”

And used to hearing about it if the food tastes bad, Farm was quick to add.

The duo said they practiced at home before the taping at Kula Country Farms and Kaonoulu Ranch. Their preparation showed. Breezing through her guest appearance like a Food Network pro, Lake-Farm also made Spam won tons, using a recipe from her aunty, Helen Young of Kaimuki.

“Cooking Hawaiian Style” host Lanai Tabura garnishes Sissy Lake-Farm’s Maui-style fried saimin with sliced Maui-grown green onions.

“I was a little nervous, but it was a lot of fun,” she said.

Show host Lanai Tabura’s calm, positive demeanor on set no doubt plays a big role in the comfort his guests feel. The show’s co-founder was raised on the island of Lanai and said he fondly remembers riding the ferry to Maui with his teammates to play high school sports. His home island was visible in the distance Wednesday, part of a beautiful, clear-sky panorama that looked like a painted backdrop.

“We love filming here,” Tabura said between tapings. “This is our second time on Maui. We want to do all the islands. I really want to come back here and do the Haiku House.”

Tabura said the show is in its eighth year. The 13 episodes taped Wednesday and Thursday in Kula will comprise the 15th season. Highlighting homestyle cooking, sharing family recipes and promoting local ingredients and products, “Cooking Hawaiian Style” is syndicated nationally and internationally. Shows are available on DirecTV, Roku TV and YouTube. They are also shown on Hawaiian Airlines flights. On Maui, it appears on Spectrum OC16.

Tabura said his crew of 18 would be working from 5 a.m. to sundown both days. The ambitious schedule included appearances from Chef Sheldon Simeon, Chef Tylun Pang, surfer Ian Walsh and Maui County Farm Bureau President Kyle Caires. The Farm Bureau is a title sponsor for the upcoming season.

Episodes are scheduled to start airing weekly in Hawaii on July 5.

Tabura said the pandemic year of 2020 posed unique production challenges, but a brief relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in June allowed them to shoot 26 episodes in six days.

“We got really lucky,” Tabura said.

Tabura won an Emmy in 2018 at the 47th Annual Northern California Area Emmy Awards for his work on the documentary program “Ramen Yokocho.” He shared the award with Redefined Media co-owner and show co-creator, Andrew Tran. In 2013, Tabura, chef brother Adam Tabura and friend Shaun Felipe drove the Aloha Plate food truck to victory in the Food Network’s reality competition “The Great Food Truck Race.”

Lake-Farm said Tabura has a way of making amateur cooks look like pros.

“He’s just very calm,” she said. “He just makes you feel comfortable. I do cook a few dishes, but that was a challenge. And, of course, to talk and cook at the same time! Lanai is so great, he just picks up the pukas, fills in things I would have missed. He made it feel so easy.”

* Matthew Thayer can be reached at thayer@maui.net.

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