Taste Hawai‘i’s diverse heritage at Highway Inn’s Tūtū’s Kitchen series May 19

In February, Highway Inn’s Kaka‘ako location launched its Tūtūʻs Kitchen program—quarterly Sunday dinners featuring talented home cooks sharing hearty family recipes. Guests sit at communal tables and pass around family-style platters. It’s a great way to meet new people and learn about the islands’ multicultural culinary history.

Highway Inn holds its second Sunday Dinner on May 19, starting at 5:30pm. For $35, you can dig into classic buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy from pr maven and Southern food aficionado Kristin Jackson (the late Kiss my Grits was her delicious establishment); Puerto Rican chicken stew from Tupperware consultant Traci Rosado Fernandez, using her grandfather’s recipe that is fragrant with annatto, adobo and pimento olives; and mango sticky rice with coconut cream prepared by food professional-turned-financial advisor Dianne Vicheinrut, who learned how to make the Thai dessert from her restaurateur mother. Tickets are available online.

Here are photos from the first Tūtūʻs Kitchen dinner held in February. On the menu was Popo’s Slumgallion by Ku‘uipo Lorenzo (pictured above), stuffed cabbage from Kathi Saks, and a sinful deep-fried Twinkie, a Chowder House and Byron’s Drive-In favorite resurrected by Lori Wong, whose family owned both those nostalgia-trip restaurants, along with Orson’s. The cooks served the dishes themselves and chatted with diners.

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Ku‘uipo Lorenzo serves Kathi Saks’ stuffed cabbage.

Lorenzo is a Highway Inn hostess and was Kamehameha Day Parade Pa‘u Queen in 2014. Her Slumgallion was what her grandmother came up with when a 12-year-old Lorenzo asked her to make up a soup. “It’s a name she made up because I used to say to her, ‘Oh, let’s just go slum around,'” says Lorenzo. “It’s basically a hamburger stew that melds different cultures. Popo taught me how to cook when I was 10. My father died at a young age, and as the oldest of five children, I had to feed my siblings while my mother worked. What started as a chore soon became my passion.” It’s like sitting down to dinner in the home of each of these cooks and learning about their families.

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Ku‘uipo Lorenzo cooked her Popo’s Slumgallion, like a Portuguese bean soup with other cultural additions.

Tūtū’s Kitchen is third-generation Highway Inn owner Monica Toguchi Ryan’s concept, inspired by New York’s Enoteca Maria, which each night features a grandmother cooking the cuisine of her home country. Tickets available at myhighwayinn.com/tutus-kitchen. And if you like what you taste, you can find it on the Highway Inn menu for a month.

Interested in sharing your food? Anyone can apply to participate in Tūtū’s Kitchen (the Highway Inn team helps turn your one-family recipe into a group feed). Just email info@myhighwayinn.com.

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Kathi Saks gave diners a taste of Hungary with her Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage served over egg noodles.
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Were you a Chowder House patron? You could have had its deep-fried Twinkies at Tūtū’s Kitchen.
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Lori Wong serves her deep-fried Twinkies, a favorite at the late Chowder House at the demolished Ward Warehouse and the late Byron’s Drive-In.
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