Chef Q&A: What to Eat in Wailea

Wailea

Blue skies overhead, golden sand between your toes, the sound of waves crashing and a cold cocktail in your hand…

Ready to book the next flight out to Hawaii yet? We certainly are—and our first stop will be Wailea, a luxurious resort getaway on the south side of Maui.

Featuring stunning views everywhere you turn, Wailea is the place to be if you’re seeking to relax and pamper yourself. Golfing, shopping and lazing by the pool or on one of Maui’s best beaches will likely be the most arduous tasks you’ll get up to here, although opportunities for adventure are aplenty.

Don’t forget to plan for lunches, dinners and the all-important happy hours too! After shopping at our store, sink into a hearty meal or sip on a refreshing drink (or two) at the Tommy Bahama Wailea Restaurant and Bar. Led by Executive Chef Jason LaMotte, our culinary team serves only the freshest seafood and local produce from the islands.

We ask Chef Jason about his favorite Maui ingredients, why he loves cooking and what you absolutely must order when you’re in town.

Executive Chef Jason LaMotte

Aloha, Jason! How long have you lived on Maui?
My family and I have been on Maui for about 18 months. We have moved a number of times in the past 15 years, including Tampa, FL; Honolulu, HI; New Orleans, LA; and Prague, CZ.

What are your favorite Maui farm-to-table ingredients?
Hands down, the golden beets we get from a farm up country. The soil gives them the most intense, earthy-sweet flavor I have ever tasted in a beet.

What’s the most “Maui” dish you make for your guests?
Our Upcountry Beet Salad for sure. Nearly everything on the plate is sourced on the island—the macadamia nuts, shallots, tomatoes, goat cheese and pink salt.

What do you like about the Island Life?
The feeling of family. It’s a big island but you end up seeing the same people at the stores, shops and schools. It’s a very comforting feeling.

What menu items are not to be missed at the Tommy Bahama restaurant in Wailea?
Its cliché, but our Mai Tais are amazing. You also have to get one of our burgers, the Hawaii Ranchers Beef—best I’ve had!

Chef Q&A: What to Eat in Wailea

How would you describe the vibe of the Wailea location?
A family. The team here, from the front to back, has a real passion for service. They all genuinely care about the well-being of every guest that comes in. I am honored to work with them all.

What fuels your passion for cooking?
I have been cooking professionally for 22 years, and at this point, I am passionate about people. This can mean teaching someone a cooking technique they have never seen before, or helping someone on a personal level with issues they may be going through in life. All of this makes work not seem like work. Cooking has never felt like work to me, just what I love to do. I am very lucky in that regard.

What do you like to do in Maui on your time off?
When the kids are in school, golfing for sure, but when we get a family day, it has to be the beach and snorkeling. It’s crazy, that’s what my kids get to do after school and on weekends. Lucky we live Hawaii!