Ed Morita - Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

TENTH ANNUAL - SAVE THE DATE – OCTOBER 2-25, 2020

japanese flag 日本語

Ed Morita

Leoda's Kitchen & Pie Shop - Lahaina, Hi

Ed Morita has spent almost two decades working as a pastry chef at some of the country’s premiere resorts and restaurants, including the Halekulani Hotel, The Greenbrier Resort & Spa in West Virginia, Bay Harbor Yacht Club in Michigan and Longhi’s Restaurant in Honolulu.

After a near-career-ending hand injury forced him out of the kitchen, he transitioned into a food writer, photographer and blogger with articles and photos published by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Associated Press, Honolulu Magazine, Edible Hawaiian Islands, and Frolic Hawaii.

Morita returned to the food industry in 2013 when he helped open the new Highway Inn Restaurant in Kaka‘ako where he earned a Hale Aina Awards nomination in the “Best Desserts” category. He is currently the Executive Pastry Chef for Na Hoaloha Ekolu where he oversees production of all the baked goods for Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop, Star Noodle, Old Lahaina Luau, and Aloha Mixed Plate.

Although this is his first time participating as a chef, Morita worked as a blogger and photographer for the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival from 2012-2014.



 

WHY DID YOU BECOME A CHEF?
I couldn’t decide if I wanted to major in political science or sports medicine, so I went to culinary school because I figured that when I did decide on a major, I could get a part-time job in a restaurant while I went to school. I never did get around to picking a major.

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COOKING IN THREE WORDS?
Passion, balance, thoughtful.

WHAT’S THE BEST HONOR YOU’VE RECEIVED AS A CHEF?
Being invited to participate as a chef at the Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival. In 2009, I was a pastry chef at a restaurant in Honolulu when my right hand was crushed in a kitchen accident. After 18 months of surgery and rehab, the insurance company declared that I was unfit to return to work.

I eventually transitioned into photography and food writing. I did freelance work for local newspapers and magazines. I worked on several political campaigns. I even worked as the official photographer for the Governor of Hawai’i for a while. During this time, I was contacted by the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival to write their blog and do photography at the various events.

Fast forward to 2014, it is my third year working with the festival when I came to the realization that I was no longer a participant in my life. I relegated myself to watching the event happen around me when I had the skills to be one of the chefs featured at the festival. It was in that moment standing in the middle of the biggest food event in Hawai’i that I came to the conclusion that regardless of what the doctors, lawyers or insurance company said, if cooking is what made me happy, then that is what I should be doing.

I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I set a goal to get back into the kitchen, and one day be one of the chefs featured at a Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival Event. Now, five years after setting that goal, here I am at the Festival.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO MEAL AFTER A BUSY DAY?
Cereal. I usually keep an assortment of cereals at home. My favorite is Frosted Mini Wheats mixed with Honey Nut Cheerios. Sometime as a snack, I’ll eat dry Mini Wheats dipped in peanut butter.

HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU’RE NOT IN THE KITCHEN?
Laundry, looking for obscure cookbooks at used book stores and watching movies.

WHAT THE ONE LOCAL INGREDIENT YOU’RE EXCITED TO COOK WITH DURING HFWF19?
Ku’ia Estates chocolate that is produced here in Lahaina.

WHAT YOU DO RECOMMEND FOR VISITING CHEFS TO DO IN HAWAII?
Old Lahaina Luau is a must!

IF YOU WERE NOT A CHEF, WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
See my earlier answer, and you’ll know why there is nothing else that I would be other than a chef.