HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Umeke Market changed things up this past March by switching to a brand new plant-based menu! Longtime employee and new owner, Robert Daguio, teamed up with creative chef Mama T to create a vegan eatery in busy downtown Honolulu. It all began when Robert was offered the opportunity to purchase Umeke after 10 years of employment. He felt comfortable with office work, but immediately knew that a new chef was necessary for success. That's when he thought of Mama T, who was running Mama T's Italian Kitchen on Fridays in Kaka'ako. She was exactly what Umeke needed to get back on track; a true chef dedicated to serving the community through her delicious creations. Ingredient integrity is a high priority for her and she is very active at farm meetings, local farms, and giving testimonies on GMOs.
Because she would be perfect for Umeke, Robert was a little hesitant to contact her for fear of rejection. But after building up some confidence, he sent a simple text message to Mama T which they may never forget. It was the first communication about this new endeavor, but it wasn't the context that was memorable. It was the timing. Mama T had just prayed about an opportunity like this a couple hours prior and her prayers were answered. Her prayer was for a partnership where someone could handle the office and she could excel in her environment, the kitchen.
After a round of meetings, Mama T took one look at the Umeke logo and knew what the new menu would feature, kalo. Everyone knows poi, but the use of kalo by Mama T showcases her versatility and culinary ingenuity. Using upwards of 100 pounds of local organic kalo per week, it can be found in their Kalo Cinnamon Buns, Kalo Tofu Scramble, 'Aina Kalo Stew, Kalo Curry, Kalo Casserole, Kalo Musubi, Kalo Long Rice, and more!
But her culinary prowess doesn't end there. She also created a mock Korean Chicken which they make daily, an 'Ulu chowder, a mock taco meat made from walnuts, and a queso for nachos made from cashews! With this new plant based menu, both Robert and Mama T now felt comfortable in taking the risky leap in completely rebranding Umeke into a vegan restaurant. Though they didn't stop at the local and organic ingredients. They got rid of all the Styrofoam, plastic bags, and plastic straws; and replaced them with all eco-friendly versions along with the utensils. They also started recycling everything from bottles, cans, oil, boxes, and even saving compost. All of which didn't go unnoticed since they were recently certified by the Surfrider Foundation for being an Ocean Friendly Restaurant.
Now, at the new Umeke Market, you can get a healthy meal for yourself while directly supporting local businesses, local farmers, and preserving the environment. Umeke makes eating healthy and doing your part easy. It is the future for sustainability here in Hawaii.