You know those people who just radiate pure joy? Well, Chef Mark “Gooch” Noguchi is a prime example of that.
This past Saturday my husband and I had the pleasure of attending a cooking demo given by Chef Noguchi at the Ala Moana Macy’s test kitchen. Before the demo even started he made the audience feel welcome, cracking jokes and talking about his childhood. While the main focus of this demo was supposed to be the cooking, it was the stories that went along with the food that really resonated with me.
Chef Noguchi talked about how his mom used to take him to cooking demos at Liberty House (the predecessor to Macy’s in Hawaii). She taught him how to cook, giving him his first wok at 10 years old and a Cuisinart at 12. She has always been one of his biggest supporters, bringing her friends to the restaurants he worked at and often times would drop off dim sum or snacks for him and his co-workers.
Throughout the demo he shared really great bits of culinary insight and these are some of my favorites.
Cooking is a reflection of who we are.
It’s important to know where our food comes from.
Growing a garden can be a bonding family experience. You don’t need a big yard, you just need a pot or cooler, some soil, some seeds, some water, and some chicken doodoo.
He also shared some cooking tips.
Always taste the product.
You want a balance of flavors in your food. Salty, sweet, sour, and bitter.
Never let your sauce come to a boil. It should always be at a simmer.
Always use freshly ground pepper. It doesn’t take much effort to grind it yourself.
When making a roast, don’t throw away the liquid. It can be used to make stocks and gravies.
Acids (vinegars, lemon juice) pull flavors forward, making them more vibrant.
Fat helps to transfer flavors and it also provides moisture.
You can make a large batch of roux, divide it into ice-cube trays, and freeze it for future use.
At the end of the demo, the audience was served a tasting portion of the dish he prepared. The dish featured Shinsato Farms pork shoulder, Tonkatsu sauce (pork gravy), a Nasturtium pesto, and a mixture of quinoa, barley, and green lentils. The dish was quite tasty, with perfectly balanced flavors. The only bad thing about it: I wanted to eat more.
His embodiment of the Aloha Spirit paired with his `aina (land) based perspective on cooking makes Chef Noguchi someone that anyone, whether you’re a foodie or not, can look up to.
Connect with Chef Mark “Gooch” Noguchi | Twitter
Pili Hawai`i | P.O. Box 61676 Honolulu, Hawaii 96839 | 808.240.1096 ext. 1 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Taste | 667 Auahi Street Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 | email@example.com | Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:00am-2:30pm
Photos by Marcus Hoapili & Arbine Villanueva-Hoapili