Michi Harris was the highlight of family parties. From a “poke bar” to a fragrant beef rendang that rivals Indigo’s, her contribution always trumped the inevitable baking pan of sushi rice on the potluck table. I know—she’s my cousin. She also catered events for the family business, Harris Agency, cooking for 200-plus people at a shot.
“A girlfriend told me you should do this as a business,” says Harris. “And my sister said to me, ‘You just love to feed people don’t you?’ I realized I do love to cook. I cook all day now, and I still love it.”
Last year Harris turned her innate talent—she’s self-taught—into a business and launched Michi’s Cooking Fresh for You, a prepared-meal service. Now she’s making dinner for about 60 people twice a week.
Instead of McDonalds, time-pressed families can pick up a real-food (no processed stuff) dinner on the way home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are two choices every day—which feeds four to six adults—with an optional salad. For example, for Nov. 24 you can choose from braised lamb shanks with couscous pilaf ($50) or giant pasta shells stuffed with homemade Italian sausage (or fauxsage and tofu), spinach and cheese and baked in basil-tomato sauce for $38. A family-size Caesar salad is $10 extra.
Cooking Fresh for You now also prepares more than 300 lunches a day for Honolulu Waldorf School, La Pietra Hawaii School for Girls, Star of the Sea School and Holy Trinity School. To help her with the lunch program, Harris hired KCC culinary school graduate Somphet Chanhpheng, who has worked at La Mer and Sam Choy’s. And the two are teaching each other tricks. For example, now she knows how to properly dismantle a chicken, and he’s learning how to cook healthy.
“Somphet said ‘You know what—I’ve never seen cooking done like this,’” says Harris. She doesn’t use a lot of butter, and stays away from salt. “I use spices to create flavor, rather than fat or salt. And I don’t fry anything,” explains Harris, who is her own poster child for eating well—she has a healthy appetite and is around food all day, yet the mother of two high schoolers and accomplished equestrienne is reed thin with a glowing complexion.
Harris grew up with her food-loving family in the Bay Area and Hawai‘i, and her parents have lived in Germany and Saudi Arabia—the diverse locales are apparent in her globe-trotting dishes, from a New England crab boil to a citrusy Greek-style roasted chicken. There aren’t many places with this caliber of food where you can take a family of four for $60.
How does Harris keep the cost so low yet the health factor so high? “It is so easy,” she laughs. “I have a huge umbrella and buy everything together. It’s very doable. I keep telling people stop buying fake food—all those prepared packaged ready-to-heat meals are loaded with sodium and preservatives.”
Pick your meal through the custom online order form that even the most e-tarded person can use. Meals are distributed from the Star of the Sea cafeteria (4469 Malia St., across Kalani‘anaole Hwy from Kahala Mall) 3 to 6 p.m. Plus food comes in Styrophobia biodegradable containers. All you have to do is eat and enjoy family quality time at home. More info: 286-6484, firstname.lastname@example.org.