In Maui, This Farm Serves the Freshest Meal You Can Find

By Kyle Ellison |

© Heather Ellison

This piece originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

It isn’t often that you see your chef splitting wood in the middle of a field. Then again, the Luncheon Tour at O‘o Farm isn’t your average meal.  

Here at 3,500 feet on the slopes of Haleakala, this eight-acre farm has reinvented the farm-to-table experience. Originally founded as a means of supplying Pacific’O restaurant with produce, the farm now hosts a luxurious luncheon where all the eggs, produce, and coffee are sourced right here. Meals are fortified with chicken and fish—both raised and caught on Maui—and guests are invited to sip their own wine beneath the vine-covered trellis.

In the words of Farm Manager Richard Clark, who’s also a sommelier, “Instead of taking the farm to the table, we’ve brought the table to the farm.” In doing so, Clark has provided a refreshing reminder of where our food actually comes from, and has crafted a unique dining experience unlike any other on Maui.

The tour begins in the coffee fields on the lower, south-facing slopes, where 560 coffee trees thrive in the Upcountry air. Wandering around the rustic farm with a light pullover or jacket, you’ll meet the hens, or “Red Aces,” supplying the farm with eggs, and be introduced to Chef Daniel—a soft-spoken culinary wizard who arrived at the farm with the first rays of light, to harvest the crops being used in the entrée and light the wood-burning oven.

The salad, however, is up to you, and requires picking tomatoes and greens for it. Don’t expect to come waltzing back with Romaine or Iceberg, since many of the farm’s 60 crops are leafy greens with powerful tastes and names you’ve never heard of. Snip off leaves of purple osaka with its potent, horseradish punch, or snack on sorrel fresh from the ground that bursts with citrus flavor. There’s roquette arugula, rainbow chard, and blue Toscano kale, topped with fennel, tomatillo, and a dash of kaffir lime.

The harvest is gathered in a wicker basket and handed off to the chef, though before the lunch bell clangs over Waipoli Road, you’ll spend some time in the tasting room, where coffee beans are sized and shucked, roasted, ground, and cupped. In addition to the classic Farm Luncheon Tour, there’s now a morning Coffee Tour that, as Clark puts it, is “two hours of nothing but coffee talk and caffeine,” and runs on Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30am.

Even during the Farm Luncheon, French pressed coffee is served at the end of the hard-earned gourmet meal, which accompanied with a view of the central valley and turquoise shoreline below, is easily the freshest meal you’ll find—either indoors or outdoors—on Maui. 

The O‘o Farm Luncheon Tour is offered Monday through Thursday, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; $58/person.

Kyle Ellison is on the Hawaii beat for Travel + Leisure. He divides his time between Hawaii and Asheville, N.C.

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