Many years ago I learned the secret to great cooking from a very famous chef during a cooking class in the south of France. He shared his trick after a fellow student bemoaned that they’d never master the art of precise dicing nor be able to reproduce complicated sauces at home. Hearing that, the Chef wiped his hands, leaned forward on the counter and assured us that 90% of great cooking is shopping. When it comes to cooking, he insisted, the ingredients used in food preparation matter more than anything else.
His revelation wouldn’t have come as big news to Peter Merriman, who in the early ‘80’s had already developed a farm to table approach to cooking in his Big Island dining establishments. His philosophy was simple but novel for the time in Hawaii– use the freshest ingredients available. To accomplish his goal of using 90% local and/or sustainable ingredients he developed partnerships with local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and growers to ensure he had the best of the best for his customers. It was, needless to say, a hit.
Twenty-some years later it came as no surprise when Kapalua announced that Merriman would take the helm of the newly revitalized restaurant formerly located in the Bay Club adjacent Kapalua Bay. Long recognized as one of the most ideal dining locations on the island, residents and visitors to Maui waited with bated breath for last summer’s grand opening. One year later, the restaurant has developed a following that clearly reflects the value of the restaurateur’s focused appreciation and insistence on using local, prime ingredients.
Clearly, since they opened Merriman’s has garnered high ratings as one of the most romantic and elegant restaurants in Maui. After attending a party there last night I can assure you it also ranks as one of the best venues for a special event.
The party started with hors d’oevres on “Champagne Point,” which competes as the most idyllic setting for a cocktail on the planet. Guests were treated to gorgeously presented and sumptuously prepared appetizers. Imagine a tray of crisp-fried mushrooms stuffed with scallop and cream sauce, each piece perched elegantly on a little cucumber pedestal, ahi bruchetta floating by on individual slices carrot and bite sized portions of Merriman’s famous duck egg rolls begging for dipping. Brilliant, iridescent rainbows showed up on cue, framing the views to the east as if encouraging the retiring sun to go it one better with painterly swathes of color across the ocean that lingered long after the sun had set.
The crowd moved into the restaurant for the main event, as gloriously orchestrated as the sunset. Seamless, unobtrusive and perfectly timed, Merriman’s created a memorable occasion as forty delighted guests gathered in the south counter of the restaurant. Unencumbered by the goings on in the main dining room and bar area (which were also abuzz with patrons!) guests raved about everything served – the salad, seared ahi appetizer, and one of the most succulent and tender filets this side of heaven.
The event ranked as one of the best private dinner parties I’ve experienced in Maui. What more can a host ask for than attentive service, terrific food, outrageous views, and overjoyed guests who today are thanking their lucky stars to have been counted among their friends?
If you’re inclined to spoil your guests with equal aplomb, Merriman’s can accommodate parties up to 60 people in a private area but parties of 61 to 150 require buying out the restaurant. To book a private party or function call (808) 669-6400 or email Joanie Kirk, Event Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.