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Chef Ed Kenney carefully plates one of his creations at his restaurant in the Surfjack Hotel, Mahina & Sun’s.


Thoughtful Food

By Kait Hanson

Photo courtesy of Mahina & Sun’s


Chef Ed Kenney is determined to make a difference with his multifaceted foodie operation.

Walk into chef Ed Kenney’s house on any given Sunday, and he will be serving up a feast alongside the people he cares about most in this world—his family.

“Sundays, I don’t answer the phone. I turn it off late Saturday night and don’t turn it back on until Monday morning. We go to the North Shore or the West Side, and sometimes we barbecue on Sunday nights. It’s a time to be immersed in family.”

It’s a delicate balance for Kenney, who juggles family, food, his Emmy award-winning cooking show on PBS, championing sustainable seafood in Hawai`i and being the mastermind behind four flourishing restaurants on O`ahu. Featured alongside many top chefs and culinary personalities across the country in America The Great Cookbook: The Food We Make for the People We Love, Kenney draws culinary inspiration from Hawai`i’s ethnic diversity and its ever-changing cultural climate.

“I’m committed to supporting local farms and showcasing local ingredients and traditional Hawaiian canoe crops such as kalo (taro) and ulu (breadfruit) on my menus.”

After graduating from the University of Colorado and spending four years in commercial real estate, Kenney spent a year backpacking the globe, immersing himself in different cultures and self-reflecting.

“It was on a street corner in Hanoi over a steaming bowl of pho that my revelation occurred: Food is the unifying fabric of humanity, connecting us to the Earth and each other. From that point forward, a new path was forged for me.”

And, Kenney says, all of his restaurants—Town, Kaimuki Superette, Mud Hen Water and Mahina & Sun’s at the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Clubs—follow one mantra: “Local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always.”