Maui, United States
I know. I know. My chef crush list is getting really long. Last year on Maui I added two chefs, both well deserving. Sheldon went on to star on Top Chef (not surprised) and Isaac continues to inspire with his perfectly balanced food. So when I arrived this year several people asked if I had met Jeff Scheer from Maui Executive Catering. Apparently he had been making waves on the island and some think that good looks alone make it to the chef crush list.
They do not.
Sure there are a lot of good looking chefs who think they can cook. But the crush is all about the food so I was adamant about not adding more to my ever growing list just because some of the girls on the island thought he was a catch.
But his food changed my mind.
Jeff is originally from Ohio where he worked as a chef. He is very laid back, particularly for a chef but I can see why he is now on Maui. He came here ten years ago intending to only spend a few months here but the island is a slippery slope and it captures many people in its swell.
Although he had worked as a chef he attended Maui Culinary Academy to learn from great chefs and while he intended to originally be a private chef the reality wasn’t what he expected. He was working 80 hours a week and he realized he loved catering.
But what makes Jeff special is that he really does believe in farm to table. So much so that he volunteers one day a week at Kupa’a Farm, the organic farm I visited last week that takes interns. He aims for 90% of his produce to be from Kupa’a and tonight’s dinner featured 100% from this couple. He is so committed to this that when he has catering jobs he cannot guarantee what the food will be as it depends on what is available from the farm.
His food is good. Really good. And because I spend much of my waking hours eating food, cooking food or thinking about food it can be really difficult to surprise me.
But tonight Jeff surprised me.
All of the dishes were great but when I first tried the flank steak I thought it was just okay but then was told I needed to eat all of the components together. The tanginess of the yogurt was a really surprising combination and I can’t stop thinking about it.
He’s won me over. Jeff makes the chef crush list.
Tonight’s dinner was not catering but a private chef’s table in his kitchen. It’s an amazing experience to see someone cook for you and also to see things fail right at the table – like the egg yolks which broke during plating. To up the ante Jeff chose to make things that he had never served before.
This isn’t just dinner it’s a food experience.
But it isn’t one just for me. Maui Executive Catering offers chef tables to small groups and they are planning much more, including a restaurant next year.
And also I keep thinking about his kitchen. He has an intern who has been working for him before attending the culinary academy and it’s an incredible opportunity. As I lay thinking about the flank steak and yogurt I keep wondering, would Jeff take on a blogger intern for a month?