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Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Chef Mavro

Restaurant Insider

November 3, 2019

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: Anthony Consillio

From left, chef and owner Jeremy Shigekane and Anne Lee

ANNE LEE AND DON ROBBINS speak with chef and owner JEREMY SHIGEKANE

Jeremy Shigekane, chef and owner of Chef Mavro, has risen from his one-time role of chef by coincidence to the top tier at the famed Honolulu restaurant.

Earlier this year, James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef George Mavrothalassitis turned over ownership of his namesake restaurant to 40-year-old Shigekane.

Shigekane, a 1996 Mililani High alumnus, explored many different career paths as a young man.

Eventually, Shigekane began cutting fish at a small shop in Town Center of Mililani.

“I had no formal training in fish cutting, and I am not an avid fisherman,” remembers Shigekane.

However, his friend’s father owned the small poke shop in Mililani, and told Shigekane that if he ever needed a job he could work for him.

Chef Mavro uses the finest ingredients available.

Thus began his culinary voyage. Shigekane soon itched to do more than slice fish, and he chose to learn more at California Culinary Academy in San Francisco where he graduated in early 2001.

“It wasn’t until my externship with John Farnsworth in Vero Beach, Florida that I started to enjoy cooking,” Shigekane says.

Upon graduation he obtained a job working at popular restaurant, Hawthorne Lane.

There, he learned everything about working with a wood grill, and moved through several stations, including shucking oysters, pulling pizza dough and sautéing.

After Hawthorne Lane (which has since closed), Shigekane worked at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay and worked with chef Brian Bistrong. This working relationship prompted his move to New York to continue working with chef Bistrong at Citarella the Restaurant.

During his career, Shigekane found work at different restaurants in order to expand his culinary experiences.

An artful dish at Chef Mavro

For example, Shigekane had a stint at the Museum of Modern Art with chef Gabriel Kreuther, formerly of Atelier at the Ritz-Carlton New York. He also worked at Bouley for a bit, and was able to work at Café Gray with Gray Kunz. He also worked for big catering companies when in between jobs, as a way to make extra money and cultivate a different way of thinking.

Shigekane says he acquired amazing knowledge working for such a multitude of iconic chefs and mentors.

“All of these celebrated chefs I had the chance to work with and learn from trusted me with their techniques and secrets. You can’t pay to have training like this — with this many top chefs.

“These chefs also believed in me and called me back and gave me opportunities. Whether it was in Florida or New York, I learned a lot. They trusted me to be able to deliver and carry out the quality of work they expect,” says Shigekane.

Eventually, Shigekane’s heart brought him back home to Hawaii, in 2011 where he assisted in the catering and restaurant of chef Chai Chaowasaree.

Feasts for the eyes

Later, he worked at Hoku’s Kahala as chef de cuisine, then a brief stint at Chef Mavro, and next as banquet and executive sous chef at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, a Luxury Collection Resort to learn the business side of the culinary industry.

“I work really hard at what I do and I have a passion for it. All of these positions I took on were intentional, to hone my craft and learn all aspects of working in a restaurant. The only formal training I had was at culinary school and my externship,” explains Shigekane of his career.

Shigekane notes that it has been quite a journey from those days cutting fish in Mililani to reach the pinnacle at Chef Mavro.

He adds, “I am blessed. This was my path, my journey to get to where I am today.

Chef Mavro’s dishes are elegant

“I couldn’t get a job in the beginning, but the path and journey that led me to meet and work with all of these talented chefs made me the chef I am today and the owner/ chef of Mavro.”

Shigekane explains that Mavrothalassitis is very particular, a perfectionist and a celebrated chef which will lead our restaurant to the next stage of Chef Mavro Restaurant.

“I have had so many experiences throughout my travels from casual, to fine dining, to catering and worked alongside with all of these celebrated well-known chefs.”

Chef Mavro specializes in French cuisine, and Shigekane explains that he’s been gravitating more toward his own recipes and is always in the search of high quality local farms.

I wanted to make this transition of ownership seamless. This was my path; this was the way that this was supposed to happen,” Shigekane emphasizes.

He stresses that Hawaii needs more fine dining establishments, and Chef Mavro certainly fits in that category.

The exterior of Chef Mavro

“We strive to provide the highest level of service and food to our guests. And, because of that, we are fortunate enough to be a well-known fine dining establishments in Hawaii.

Something new that Shigekane now offers are vegetarian and vegan options. If you are a vegetarian or vegan diner, the menu is created with you in mind. “You are getting touches of all of the restaurants that both Chef Mavro and I have been a part of and that is what a fine dining experience should be,” Shigekane shares.

As far as future plans, Shigekane said he’s keeping the Chef Mavro name, to honor his mentor Chef Mavothalassitis, but he wants to make a name for himself in Hawaii.

A special upcoming week long 3-course event Nov. 5 – 9 is “Cassis by Chef Mavro Restaurant,” $98.

For reservations, please visit Resy.com.

Ginger Scallion Fried Rice with Carrots and Radish

For the ginger scallion paste:

• 1 1/2 cups chopped scallions (green only)
• 4 tablespoons peeled and chopped ginger
• 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
• 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
• 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (can substitute canola or vegetable oil)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on low for a minute and then high for two minutes until you have a smooth paste.

For the fried rice:

• 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger scallion paste
• 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
• 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil (can substitute canola or vegetable oil)
• 2 cups cooked cold rice (calrose, basmati or jasmine)
• Lime juice to taste

Garnish: Chopped scallions, small diced carrots (nukazuke if possible), thinly sliced breakfast radishes

Instructions

Heat grapeseed oil in a large nonstick sauté pan on medium high heat. Add rice and sauté for a minute to heat, then add ginger scallion paste and sauté for another minute until fragrant. Remove from heat and add soy sauce and lime juice just to make the rice a brighter flavor. Garnish with scallions, carrots and breakfast radishes.

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