Food & Wine: Chef Ed Kenney
Photo © Tracy Wright Corvo

Ed Kenney

F&W Star Chef

Restaurant: Town (Honolulu, HI)

Experience: Downtown (Honolulu, Hawaii); Ed spent ten years working at boutique restaurants in Honolulu

Education: Culinary Institute of the Pacific at KCC, O'ahu

What is the recipe you are most famous for?
I’m embarrassed to say this, because it’s so overdone, but the recipe I’m most famous for is ahi tartare. If we were to take it off the menu there would be a citizen’s revolt. It’s a half dollar-size disk of firm risotto that is seared until it’s crispy on the top and bottom. The risotto cake is topped with a ball of chopped sashimi-grade ahi that has been seasoned with capers, anchovies, shallot and herbs. It’s finished with a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar.

What is your most cherished cookbook?
In my work I have referred to my old, dilapidated copy of The Joy of Cooking far more than any other cookbook because of its practicality and tried-and-true recipes. The favorite cookbook I own is Chez Panisse Vegetables, because it is personally addressed to me and signed by Alice Waters.

What is the best-bang-for-the-buck ingredient?
Parmigiano-Reggiano. While it’s not cheap, it packs an umami wallop, and can be used in salads, soups, pasta, sauces and even dessert.

What restaurants are you dying to visit over the upcoming year?
In 2014, I’ll be in Melbourne, Australia, and would really like to go to Attica. Ben Shewry is one of a group of young chefs creating beautifully simple yet complex modern dishes that reflect a particular time and place. I will also be in Tokyo and look forward to my reservation at Sukiyabashi Jiro because of his life-long commitment to creating perfect sushi. In New York City, I look forward to returning to Roberta’s in Brooklyn. I went there last summer at the suggestion of Mitchell Davis of the James Beard Foundation, and it was the most enjoyable and revelatory dining experiences that I have had in a long time.

What is your dream restaurant project?
It would be a restaurant as part of an educational-entrepreneurial youth leadership training program and center for agro-ecology. It would be set on a 100-acre organic farm on the North Shore of Oahu.

What is your favorite supermarket-bought product?
Vita Coco, because it’s cool and refreshing and because juicing fresh coconuts is a pain in the butt.

Recipes by Ed Kenney

The Dish
Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.