Grand Wailea’s Michael Lofaro Named “Chef of the Year” by Maui Chefs

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Lofaro Also Received “Most Innovative Menu” and “Best Pacific Rim” Cuisine

Mike Lofaro of Grand Wailea on Maui Named 2016 Chef of the Year

“I look at food differently now that I’ve been on this journey. I look at life differently,” said Lofaro.

Michael “Mike” Lofaro, chef de cuisine of the prized Humuhumunukunukuapua`a restaurant at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort was awarded Chef of the Year last night at the Maui No Ka Oi Magazine’s `Aipono Awards Gala at Grand Wailea. The prestigious Chef of the Year title is decided by peer review – voted on exclusively by Maui chefs. Lofaro also received the Most Innovative Menu and a silver award for Best Pacific Rim cuisine by the readers of the magazine.

It has been a big year for Lofaro, fondly nicknamed the “waterman chef.” He refers to the ocean as his hunting ground and uses his muse to fish, gather, forage and hunt for a quarterly dinner series called Ka Malama, based on the Hawaiian moon calendar and what is in season during certain phases of the moon.

His creative menus have him paddling a mile offshore at midnight to catch malolo (flying fish) and opelu (mackerel); hiking several hours into a valley to gather pohole fern; and jumping off the rugged ocean cliffs of the East shores of Maui to pick opihi (limpet). His kai momona dish combines wana (sea urchin), shellfish coconut emulsion, ogo (seaweed) and sea beans, and it won Best Protein Dish at the 2016 Maui County Agricultural Festival.

Lofaro takes farm to table a leap forward. In doing so, his dinners have inspired a television series – SEARCH Hawaii, Where Food Meets Culture – that will air 12 half-hour shows weekly on KHON2-Fox in Hawaii beginning June 4, and an hour special in September. The show will air globally on independent stations around the world this fall, and on Hawaiian Airlines flights to and from Hawaii.

He and his co-host Hawaiian cultural ambassador Kainoa Horcajo have diverse but similarly passionate backgrounds. SEARCH Hawaii inspires viewers to consider local ingredients while they learn about Hawaii’s cultures and traditions with visually rousing images of their island home, meetings with local heroes farming, fishing and cooking cultural ingredients throughout the Hawaiian islands.

“I look at food differently now that I’ve been on this journey. I look at life differently,” said Lofaro.

“Grand Wailea is proud and very fortunate to have Mike as part of our ohana (family),” said Tom Donovan, managing director of Grand Wailea. “His passion for the ocean truly translates to his award-winning cuisine, and he leads and motivates his team in the kitchen to think differently about local ingredients. We know we can count on Mike to impress our guests and clients with his innovation. He always delivers.”

Lofaro is a graduate from the esteemed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He was executive chef at Mill’s Tavern in Providence, Rhode Island where he achieved the distinguished Mobil Four Star Award, and worked with famed chef Michael Mina of Aqua in San Francisco before landing at Grand Wailea in 2005. In 2014 The Maui News readers named Lofaro Best Maui Chef and his restaurant Best Resort Restaurant.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-888-6100. Follow us at @GrandWailea.

Grand Wailea participates in Hilton HHonors®, the only guest loyalty program where guests who book directly through have access to benefits including digital check-in, choose your room, and free WiFi at over 20 Waldorf Astoria hotels worldwide.

About the `Aipono Restaurant Awards
Now in their 14th year, the `Aipono Restaurant Awards are the first high-profile dining awards devoted entirely to Maui. They are awards of honor and distinction determined by the readers – the residents and regular visitors of Maui. The awards presentation gala is a benefit for the Maui Culinary Academy.


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