Falling into different flavors

New fall menus have appeared on the tables of Kauai Grill and Makana Terrace. There’s also three new sushi rolls, including the Prince Roll ($25) with panko crusted rice, hamachi, ahi, snow crab, avocado and macadamia nuts. But those aren’t the only changes at the luxurious North Shore resort.

This September, Franck Desplechin was promoted from executive sous chef of the St. Regis Princeville to executive chef. Franck began his culinary career when he was just 9 years old, when he attended L’Auberge des Glazicks in Plomodiern, France, under chef Olivier Belin. The restaurant earned a Michelin star one year after Franck started and he has since worked at a number of Michelin starred restaurants.

David Putnicki was promoted from manager at Makana Terrace to manager and sommelier at Kauai Grill. Maxime Michaud, former chef de cuisine at Kauai Grill, is now the executive sous chef at St. Regis Princeville. Finally, Noelani Lei Planas is the newly hired sous chef for Nalu Kai Bar and Grill, which always serves lunch, and tapas are served in the evening from May through September and again in December.

Noelani was born and raised in Kapaa and learned how to cook at A Pacific Cafe under Jean-Marie Josselin, one of the pioneering chefs of Hawaii Regional Cuisine. She was 15 years old when she started as a dishwasher. Five years later, she moved to Las Vegas and opened Josselin’s 808 Restaurant at Cesar’s Palace. Since, she’s worked for chefs such as Wolfgang Puck and Joel Robuchon, a French chef whose earned 28 Michelin stars in eight countries, including three at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

On Oct. 20, Nalu Kai will host a five-course Koloa Rum dinner ($95), which will be served poolside with a fabulous view of the ocean and stars. Each course will pair a Koloa Rum cocktail with Noelani’s food. Courses include grilled shrimp skewers with caramelized pineapple vinaigrette; scallop carpaccio with lemon oil and petite greens; broiled quail with an orange ginger glaze and roasted fingerling potatoes; blackened ahi with soba noodles and soy sesame vinaigrette. Dessert will be a hibiscus sorbet with coconut espuma and hazelnut florentine.

A Harvest Dinner ($75) at Makana Terrace on Saturday includes four courses made by Chef de Cuisine, Antwon Brinson, and Executive Pastry Chef, Heather Campbell. Dishes include five onion soup; shellfish tortellini with sautéed corn, leeks and clams; lobster and braised sole with gnocchi and oyster mushrooms; and Chocolate Raspberry Entremet, which is a variation of a beautiful French dessert crafted with layers of mousse, cremeux (pudding), cake, and often something crunchy.

Recently, my husband, Daniel Lane, and I had a chance to try some of the new fall dishes at Kauai Grill. One favorite is Foie Gras Brûlée ($24) with spiced fig jam. Pushing my fork through a crisp coating, bubbles of foie gras seep through the top. Flavors of gingerbread explode in my mouth as the cool and creamy goose liver melts on my tongue.

Another favorite is the Makaweli Tenderloin ($49), made with grass-fed beef from Makaweli Meat Company on Kauai’s Westside. David paired each course with an exceptional glass of wine and the rich Orin Swift D-66 perfectly complemented the extraordinarily flavorful and tender beef.

“It’s an expensive property and an expensive menu,” says Franck with a suave French accent. “I want to make sure there is value for our guests. I want them to be happy with the eyes and happy with the taste, and create a unique experience that they cannot find anywhere else on the island.”

Marta Lane, a Kauai-based food writer since 2010, offers food tours and is the author of Tasting Kauai: Restaurants – From Food Trucks to Fine Dining, A Guide to Eating Well on the Garden Island. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.

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