Respect for the food is respect for the culture
Here, you’ll find that every beach, hill, and rock is sacred. Locals say that taking so much as a stone or stick without permission can lead to sickness, depression, even death. That sense of connectedness lives in the ranch’s ethos, and we ask permission as we harvest greens -- and even pay it forward and plant some new ones.
“I ulu no ka lala i ke kum,” chants Kui Gapero, our cultural guide. “The branches grow because of the tree.”
Everywhere you look, culture and heritage -- not what outsiders might expect from an island known for sugar cane and aloha shirts. It’s so beautiful and tranquil, it’s easy to almost feel bad about taking these plants. But by the time we fly in and get to work in the dirt, we’re famished.
As we help plant butter lettuce, we nibble a few leaves. And then with the chefs guiding us, we pluck basil, beets, and kale, sampling as we go. The vegetables grow to gigantic sizes in the tropical sun.
Once we collect the greens, we pass them to the head chef, Jon Watson, and Marco Calenzo, the executive sous chef from the Four Seasons. We head out from the ranch house to take in the ocean views, enjoying lemonade from trees we just passed. The chefs, meanwhile, get to work in the open kitchen with ingredients we’ve collected -- chopping greens, mixing herbs, juicing citrus, drizzling vinaigrettes. Our stomachs play the national anthem.