From Chef to Star in Hawai‘i

Oct 28, 2016

Credit PBS Hawaii

When it comes to local food, chef Ed Kenney is a familiar face. But he’s been getting a lot more exposure as the host of the PBS show “Family Ingredients.” Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier has more.

Chef-owner Ed Kenney has, in a way, always been as well-known as his four restaurants, starting with town in 2011, then Kaimuki Superette, Mud Hen Water and Mahina & Suns. In part that’s because he’s always been a vocal proponent of the farm-to-table movement.

Now he’s also a TV personality as host of the PBS Hawaii show, “Family Ingredients,” which won a regional Emmy for its first season and is gearing up for a second. As Kenney tells PBN, being in front of the camera is something he resisted for two years. That’s how long it took local filmmaker Heather Giugni to convince him that he was the perfect choice for a show that traces ingredients back to the family farms that produced them.

And it is the stories that won him over. For example, one episode traces the origins of pipikaula. Filming it took Kenney to California to learn about the Mexican vaqueros who migrated to the Big Island in the 1800s and created paniolo culture alongside Hawaiian ranch hands.

“Family Ingredients” is funded by PBS Hawaii and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with a grant from Pacific Islanders in Communications, all with an eye toward rediscovering and celebrating the origins of the food we love in Hawaii.

Kenney has learned to be comfortable on camera by just being himself. He’s also learned how to delegate. Filming the show means time away from the restaurants and he has since added a director of operations to his team keep things running smoothly.