From Kau Kau to Cuisine


Project Description

From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now

by Arnold Hiura, featuring Derek Kurisu and Jason Takemura | Watermark Publishing, 2013


From fine dining to food trucks, Hawai‘i’s contemporary cuisine is indelibly influenced by its small-town plantation past. From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now is a unique culinary guide to that connection between old and new. Food historian Arnold Hiura provides the fascinating backstory of Hawai‘i’s culinary journey from roots in tight-knit communities to how—and what—Islanders eat today. Hiura points out, for instance, that common foods once consumed out of necessity, such as offal cuts or native plants, have once again become popular. The buzzwords of modern cuisine—sustainable, homegrown, foraged—are in fact age-old practices; many old-timers never stopped sourcing, cooking and eating their foods in these ways.

In From Kau Kau to Cuisine, Big Island television personality and KTA Super Stores executive vice-president Derek Kurisu and O‘ahu executive chef Jason Takemura of Hukilau Honolulu and Pagoda Floating Restaurant, have teamed up to present 30 pairs of recipes. Each pair matches a “Then” dish from Kurisu—a classic plantation or traditional local-style favorite—with a “Now” dish from Takemura—a reinterpretation of Kurisu’s version or a new creation drawn from the same ingredients or cooking style.

Additional photos:

River ‘Ōpae (Shrimp). Wok-fried and crisped in the oven. “Now” Pairing: Kālua Pig and Shrimp Spring Rolls. © 2014 Sugar + Shake

Tako Poke. “Now” Pairing: Spicy Smoked-Tako Poke. © 2014 Sugar + Shake

Chicken (or Pork) Adobo. “Now” Pairing:  Garlic Lemongrass Pork. © 2014 Sugar + Shake

For my personal take on working on the project and additional photography, visit Sugar + Shake.

Client: Watermark Publishing

Editor, co-photographer, project manager


  • Substantive structural and content editing
  • Recipe editing
  • Commissioned for photography of “Then” dishes; also provided additional supporting photography from personal archives
  • Supervised photography of “Now” dishes
  • Organized contributions, set timelines and facilitated communication between publisher, author, chefs, photographer and design/production team

A cookbook and food history book examining the cuisine of Hawai‘i through the lens of plantation dishes contrasted with today’s modern dishes. “Then” and “Now” sections detail the food trends and significant culinary-related moments of the period. Each recipe includes a photo and text detailing the inspiration and significance of the dish.

  • Hawaii Book Publishers Association, Ka Palapala Po‘okela Award of Excellence (highest honor) in Cookbooks, 2014
  • Hawaii Book Publishers Association, Ka Palapala Po‘okela Honorable Mention in Design, 2014
  • Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, Best Historical Recipes Cookbook, Hawaii Division, 2015