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Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: La Vie

Restaurant Insider

April 17, 2022

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

ANNE LEE speaks with G.Lion Group corporate executive chef SHAYMUS ALWIN

Corporate executive chef Shaymus Alwin leads the culinary team for G.Lion Group at G.Lion Hawaii, which consists of La Vie, Quiora and Hy’s Steak House.

Avocado Toast ($19)

Recently, La Vie announced that its breakfast service was back, and chef Shaymus invited me to taste his new creations and talked more about what new things will be coming from this restaurant group.

AL: Breakfast is back at La Vie! Why did you decide to do this?

SA: At the end of last month, we restarted breakfast service again at La Vie — open to the public and to guests staying at The Ritz-Carlton. La Vie has a larger space and larger kitchen, which will allow us to be able to offer buffets during the holidays, such as Mother’s Day, which is right around the corner.

Porchetta Benedict ($25)

AL: What inspired this breakfast menu?

SA: I try to develop all of our menus based on locality — the products that we use are locally sourced. For example, the Avocado Toast ($19) is served on our housemade focaccia bread, and features crushed avocado, salsa verde, cherry tomatoes and Hirabara radishes, which are all from local farms here in Hawaii. I wanted to offer options that were refreshing, light and healthier for you. Recently, I have had to transition my diet, as well. Years of working in a restaurant and eating such great food and sauces did a bit of a number on my cholesterol, so I had to pull back a little bit (laughs).

Lemon Buttermilk Pancakes ($23)

AL: What else did you prepare today?

SA: The Lemon Buttermilk Pancakes ($23) are very light. Again, the model is sense of place. I always really enjoyed a lemon pancake. We make the batter/dry mix inhouse, which could be very rare these days, but we are very proud of that. The coconut sabayon, which is an egg-based lighter version of whipped cream (like a hollandaise but a sweet version of it) ties in Hawaii. Adding berries also makes it refreshing, and it’s finished with a raspberry maple syrup that we make in-house. Maple syrup is a top priority for me. Since we can’t get real maple syrup here in Hawaii, we get ours from Vermont. The Porchetta Benedict ($25) is our house-cured pork belly with a TKG poached egg, which is a tastier egg. We first sous vide them, top them with hollandaise sauce, and serve them atop English muffins and Hirabara greens from the Big Island.

AL: There’s also a great keiki menu, how did you come up with the choices?

SA: I have two children myself and wanted to create dishes that I know that kids would want to eat. We priced each entrée at $16, and it comes with a beverage. Items like pancakes and French toast are options that most kids gravitate toward. If kids are happy, parents are happy.

AL: There is a consistent presence of items from Hirabara Farms on your menu. What is their specialty?

SA: Greens; a lot of lettuce. Many restaurants were using their Tokyo negi, which is a form of a green onion that’s milder and sweeter than a scallion. They are just a unique farm. The owners Kurt (rest his soul, he passed away a few years ago) and Pam are wonderful people. He was an innovator and father figure in this industry. He had many well-known chefs that he took care of here and on the mainland. There is a room with a dry-erase board along a wall that has a special message and names of many famous chefs that have been to the farm — it was a very special privilege to be asked to sign that board. Kurt would call me at least once a month to check in on me; he was a real special figure and very dear to me.

AL: What’s new at the restaurant?

SA: We are excited to have chef Eric Oto join us to help evolve what we have built in the last few years.

We will be offering more brunch buffets for holidays, and if all goes well, it could very well turn into a weekly Sunday brunch offering.

AL: What’s happening at La Vie for Mother’s Day?

SA: Our Mother’s Day breakfast buffet — 9 a.m.-1 p.m. May 8 — will consist of everything under the sun, including a carving station with dry-aged Mishima beef, which is an American wagyu with Black Angus beef. We will have assorted meats; a chilled seafood bar with shrimp, lobster, oysters, sashimi, different pokes; four salad options; three made-to-order omelet options. Cost is $89 per person, and $42 for kids 12 and younger. Kids 2 and younger are free. Reservations are recommended.

AL: What is something people might not know about you?

SA: Believe it or not, I am colorblind.

AL: What is that like?

SA: I knew that I was colorblind all the way back to kindergarten. I almost didn’t get to first grade because I was colorblind. My hardest colors are green and brown.What’s interesting is that I can see the colors, but I see it differently. I would ask people around me what color I was looking at. It’s by memory now.

AL: What makes you stay in this industry?

SA: I started in this industry at a very young age as a kid in Maine. My father was a lobsterman and my mom worked in the restaurant industry, and I had uncles that were chefs. This was my path. I stay in this because it’s the career that I chose, and I love it. It’s a lifestyle.

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