Chef gives food local flair

Executive Chef Rafael Camarillo wants to take the menu at the Courtyard by Marriott Kauai at Waipouli Beach, and incorporate it with local-style favorites.

“I’m a local boy, and I like to take the food with a little European and American flair, and give it the local flair,” he said.

He calls this style “local fusion.” “I want to upscale local food a little bit,” he said. “When local people come in (the resort’s restaurant), I want to show them something different.” Camarillo got his early training at Kaua‘i Community College, and received hands-on training with chefs at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa in Po‘ipu. He went on to spend 15 years working there as a chef in various capacities, before leaving to go the Courtyard by Marriott Kauai at Waipouli Beach, where he oversees all culinary operations.

Most of the dishes, he said, are all original. Here, he’s proud to share some of his favorite dishes on the menu: Lobster Corn Dogs, Shiitake Crusted ‘Ahi With Kim Chee Fried Rice, and the Pulehu Tenderloin Filet With Mushroom Potatoes.

“The secret to a good steak is the salt and pepper,” he said. “I do it local-style, with Hawaiian sea salt and cracked pepper, then add a little lemon grass or ginger; things that we find locally. I love local food, and use local products. I want people to be proud of what we eat here in Hawai‘i.”

Lobster Corn Dogs

3-ounce, 1/2 lobster tail, cut in half

Rice, to grind to powder

White sesame seeds, to grind to powder

Tempura batter

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 bamboo skewers

Marinade: (all to taste)



Salt and pepper

Salad oil

Mix marinade ingredients and set aside. Cut whole lobster in half, and remove lobster meat. Cut into three individual pieces. Place in marinade for half an hour. Skewer through with bamboo skewer.

In a bowl, make favorite tempura batter, and mix the rice flour, sesame-seed powder, salt and pepper.

Coat the lobster skewer with flour, and place into tempura batter. Deep fry until golden brown.

Shiitake Crusted ‘Ahi With Kim Chee Fried Rice

6 ounce fresh ‘ahi, skinned and filleted

2 ounces dry shiitake mushroom, grind to powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

For rice:

6 ounces jasmine rice

1 tablespoon small onions, diced

1 tablespoon assorted bell peppers, diced

2 tablespoons kim chee, diced

2 teaspoons shoyu

2 tablespoons snow peas

2 tablespoons butter

Hawaiian or kosher salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon ginger, minced

Grind dry shiitake mushroom in to a fine powder by using a spice or coffee grinder, set aside.

Season ‘ahi and place one side of ‘ahi into shiitake powder, set aside.

In a pan, heat up butter until melted, add garlic, ginger and diced vegetables. Cook for about 30 seconds.

Add kim chee and jasmine rice, shoyu and season with Hawaiian or kosher salt and black pepper.

Cook until a little crispy and set aside.

Add oil to a pan and set on medium-low heat. When oil begins to smoke, add ahi crusted side down first. Then check to see if it is nice and brown. If it is, flip it to the other side.

Cook until done.

Pulehu Tenderloin Filet with Mushroom Potatoes

8 ounce filet mignon

Hawaiian or kosher salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon garlic

2 teaspoons olive oil

Mushroom Potatoes:

1 pound russet potatoes

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon marscapone cheese

3 tablespoons small assorted mushrooms, cut into 1/4

Pinch of chopped parsley

Hawaiian or kosher salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon garlic, for mushrooms

4 tablespoons butter, for mushrooms

4 tablespoons white wine

Add olive oil, garlic, Hawaiian or kosher salt and black pepper in a bowl, mix well, and pour it on the filet. Let marinate for one hour.

Grill to your desired temperature. Set aside.

On medium heat, place a pan, add butter and garlic. Cook for 20 seconds, then add mushrooms. Cook until tender, but not mushy. Add wine, reduce until wine is gone. Set aside.

Steam or boil potatoes until fork tender. Add warm milk, butter, parsley, mushrooms and marscapone cheese. Adjust seasoning. With wire whip, mix potatoes until fluffy. Serve with the filet.

Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or


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