HOLUALOA — Chef Flora Cadore grew up in southern Brazil, where barbeque is king. In the tiny town of Santa Rosa, near the border of Argentina, her family would gather every Sunday to cook and enjoy meat slow roasted over an open fire. Today, Flora shares that same tradition in Hawaii through Forged to Table, a unique live fire cooking experience in partnership with her husband, bladesmith Neil Kamimura, and friend Danny Bolton, a Kona coffee farmer.
So, what exactly is Forged to Table live fire cooking experience? Vegetarians, cover your ears. Imagine a whole lamb, splayed on guava branches and slow cooked over an open fire for nine hours. The result — lamb al asador Argentinian style. Now, visualize a Hawaii grass-fed whole prime rib, speared and roasted for four hours over an open fire to a perfect medium. This is “gaucho steak” cooked Brazilian style, served with Flora’s homemade chimichurri sauce.
Chef Flora uses a combination of traditional Brazilian and Argentine techniques that are typical of her hometown in southern Brazil, where the two culinary cultures often meld and mix together. Locally grown fire-roasted pineapple, whole kabocha squash with island goat cheese, and ulu gnocchi with tomato sauce — a simultaneous nod to her Italian grandmother and a Hawaiian staple crop — round off the menu. But wait, there’s dessert. Fire roasted banana crepes with dulce de leche, cinnamon walnuts, and bottomless cups of Kona coffee.
“My philosophy is few ingredients, lots of flavor,” says Flora.
Forged to Table guests arrive to the intoxicating scent of meat still cooking over an open fire, and get to watch the meal take shape before their eyes. Dining is open air, surrounded by nature, with stunning views of the Kona coast. The event is held on the Bolton family’s coffee farm in Holualoa, owners of the popular farm to cup cafe, Kona Coffee and Tea.
Forged to Table is about melding and mixing — bringing people, cultures, and culinary traditions together. It’s about slowing down and talking story. It’s the polar opposite of fast food. All Flora’s knives and tools, including the BBQ meat spears, are hand-forged by Neil Kamimura. Preparation for the event begins a week in advance, sourcing ingredients, setting up the location on the farm, and most importantly, getting wood. Danny Bolton collects and chops a monstrous truckload of Kiawe wood to keep the fire going all day long. Cooked by Flora, forged by Neil, gathered by Danny is the trio’s unofficial tagline.
Cooking over an open fire is an art form. Flora doesn’t use thermometers. Instead, she does it the old fashioned way — a technique she refers to as “hearing the meat.” This is a combination of careful timing, monitoring the heat of the fire by hand (literally), watching for changes in texture and color, and prodding the meat to feel for that perfectly done sweet spot.
“There is something so magical about fire,” says Flora. We are the only animals that cook our food with fire. It’s part of what makes us human.”
Forged to Table’s next meal will be a Rustic Summer Brunch, on Sunday, July 28.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://forgedtotablehawaii.com. For drool-worthy photos and behind the scenes shots, follow Forged to Table on Instagram @forgedtotable.
Emily Gleason is business writer who can be found at www.mthewriter.com. She contributes a monthly business feature, Imua in Business, to West Hawaii Today.