Ippy Aiona keeps it easy: Famed Waimea chef releases new cookbook with simple, local-style dishes - Hawaii Tribune-Herald

2022-06-25 07:55:11 By : Mr. liangzhao zhou

Friday, June 24, 2022 | Today's Paper | 74.57°

courtesy photo Waimea chef Philip “Ippy” Aiona’s “Easy Hawaiian Cookbook” is listed as Amazon’s No. 1 New Release in Pacific Rim Cooking, Food and Wine.

It’s been a decade since Chef Philip “Ippy” Aiona was, at 23, the youngest competitor on “Food Network Star,” winning fans with his flowing locks, since shorn, and easy smile, which he still possesses. He went deep into the competition, a mere episode from the finals.

It’s been a decade since Chef Philip “Ippy” Aiona was, at 23, the youngest competitor on “Food Network Star,” winning fans with his flowing locks, since shorn, and easy smile, which he still possesses. He went deep into the competition, a mere episode from the finals.

Now 33, Aiona is a successful restaurateur and the executive chef of Ippy’s Hawaiian BBQ in Waimea, a plate-lunch restaurant he owns with his parents, Max and Robin Aiona. The fare is accessible, delectable — and decidedly local.

He’s also become a family man. He and wife, Genna, a chef he met at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary College of California, have two daughters — Grace Pualani Aiona, 2, and Poppy Ke‘elikolani Aiona, 2 months.

Since his season on “Food Network Star,” Aiona represented the U.S. in Canada’s International Iron Chef competition and won, and was named to Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” list in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

To top it off, Aiona’s recently published “Easy Hawaiian Cookbook” is a hit right out of the box. Published by Rockridge Press in Oakland, Calif., it’s listed on Amazon as the No. 1 new release in Pacific Rim Cooking, Food and Wine.

According to internationally renowned chef Jason Roberts, “Ippy has brought together food, culture and nostalgia in a way that leaves you feeling as if your grandmother just gave you a cuddle.”

“The whole concept of the book is 12 ingredients or less and an hour or less of cooking time,” Aiona told the Tribune-Herald last week. “Now, there are a few recipes in there where I told (the publishers) it just wasn’t feasible — kalua pig and other things where it takes time to develop. But the whole idea is keeping it simple, like it’s called, ‘The Easy Hawaiian Cookbook.’

“I was able to get really nostalgic and put a few of the things that I grew up with because I got such free range in what I could put in the book.”

The book was dedicated to the late Masayo Seo Hamora, who cooked in Aiona’s father’s restaurant, Kamuela Deli, and also owned a self-named restaurant in Waimea. In the dedication, Aiona wrote Hamora “gave me my first Chinese cleaver, inspiring me to become a chef and teaching me the importance of loving what you do.”

Aiona described her as “an important part of our family” and “one of the OGs of Waimea.” He also included her paniolo beef stew recipe in the book.

“This beef stew is very local style,” Aiona said. “It’s ketchup, tomato paste, water — basically, that’s it. The flavor comes from the meat and the vegetables. I was hesitant to put it in there. But I did it because it’s a very simple recipe.

“That’s how Masayo was; she was a very simple lady. It was how she made it, and it’s how we still make it.”

The 70 simple recipes in the book also include local favorites such as poke, kalua pig, loco moco, sweet-and-sour spareribs, chicken katsu, mochiko chicken and pork adobo.

“There’s a lot of the recipes that I use at my restaurant, but everything in the book is scaled-down, and the recipes change a little bit as they’re scaled down for home use,” Aiona said.

Aiona describes himself as a “pickling fanatic,” and the book has his recipe for takuan, the sweet pickled daikon that garnishes bentos and plate lunches statewide. He’s also included a potato-macaroni salad recipe that’s different than the mac salad he serves at his restaurant.

“The one in the book is much more barbecue style, like you’re eating at the beach with yakitori chicken,” he said. “It’s that type of salad, with the potatoes and the ground-up boiled egg.”

Aiona also includes pantry items any cook who wants to make local-style food should have and recipe hacks mainland cooks can use to replicate certain dishes, such as using liquid smoke to make kalua pork.

“It’s called ‘The Easy Hawaiian Cookbook’ for a reason,” he said. “That’s how I wanted to come at it. Hawaiian food can be so intimidating when you’re talking about earth ovens and pounding kalo. A lot of times, with ethnic foods, it can be super intimidating.

“But it’s crazy, when you break down Hawaiian food, how not intimidating and how simple it is.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.