New Executive Chef Brings New Vision to Wailea Hotel: Travel Weekly
After honing his craft in one of the best kitchens on the island, chef Bryan McMahon envisioned a handful of places as his next stop on Maui. The Wailea Hotel, Hawaii’s only Relais et Châteaux property, was one of them.
When approached for the executive chef position at the South Maui property, he was immediately intrigued by the opportunity to work at this adults-only luxury hotel and test his skills as a top executive. the hierarchy of the kitchen.
“They have incredible resources and facilities,” he said. “I have had 14 years of hardcore culinary adventures. Each has contributed to my skills within the company … and I want to keep pushing my limits and continue to be innovative and creative.”
McMahon joined the Wailea Hotel in June as the property’s new executive chef. He has spent the previous three years as an Executive Sous Chef at Spago Maui at the Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea; the new position is his first as a top chef in a restaurant or hotel.
He now oversees the hotel’s entire dining program, including the Wailea Hotel Restaurant, the property’s signature restaurant; outdoor Birdcage Bar lounge; the Cabanas, the restaurant by the pool; and the Wailea Hotel Cooking School.
Bryan McMahon joined the Wailea Hotel in June as the property’s new Executive Chef. Photo credit: courtesy of the Wailea Hotel
Originally from Oregon, McMahon studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and his career took him from Nantucket to Los Angeles and eventually to Maui in 2018. His resume includes time at acclaimed restaurants that include the Michelin-starred cup. at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire and Vespertine in Culver City, California.
During his three years in Maui, he took a crash course in the pros and cons of being a chef in one of the world’s most remote places.
“Working with the local farmers and accessing the giant fishery here has been fantastic,” he said.
“Obviously there is great access to fish and seafood on the island, but some specialty items are coming to us from LA, and if you aren’t aware of it you can have big supply issues and timing when things happen if you’re I don’t plan well. ”
Take advantage of local ingredients
McMahon doesn’t adhere to any type of cuisine, often forming his ideas after a quick review of what the area’s farmers are up to in a given week.
“I like to use local ingredients that are in season to spark my idea for a dish,” he said. “This is how I start the creative process. I take the local fish and protein and then I try to add my vision. I like to keep it light and present it in an accessible way, but I will. also add something to surprise them also in the dish. ”
At the Wailea Hotel Restaurant, he’s working on training staff in new techniques and introducing a “wow factor” that will set their meals apart from other Maui destination restaurants.
“It’s not a la carte, but the prix fixe tasting menu offers a lot of options, so diners can always choose a little, and it also offers the option to dine with us again during their stay and to try what they didn’t eat the first time around, ”he said.
Popular dishes include locally sourced crudo with avocado, ponzu, and togarashi; pork chops with grilled macadamia, nuoc cham and cauliflower; and Kona kampachi and Japanese clams served with bok choy, tomato, and ginger-garlic sambal.
The restaurant also offers the Treehouse, a structure built into a canopy of mango trees that offers a private and exclusive seven-course dining experience, including food and wine pairings. McMahon keeps a guard chief whenever this is booked.
There’s also Table 24, a restaurant reservation that includes a five-course tasting menu put together by McMahon himself.
“It’s improvised, just for you,” he said. “It definitely creates that extra special experience for hotel guests, something that is especially for them.”
In the future, he is working on plans to bring the experience of a chef’s table inside the kitchen.
“We have this beautifully remodeled display kitchen where you can see the staff in action,” he said. “I think, for a certain type of guest, there is definitely a market for that up close experience where they are in the kitchen, dining with us.”
The Birdcage Bar is a lounge with panoramic ocean views and a menu of small plates and handcrafted cocktails.
“Birdcage’s menu will be small plates, but I don’t mean tapas because it will be more influenced by Asia,” he said. “We will be making sashimi and crudos using fish and local products. ”
Captain of his own team for the first time, McMahon said he was excited about the talent around him and the opportunity to test culinary limits as he developed updates for the Cabanas, new breakfast options at the hotel and other dining experiences, including cooking classes.
“This is the best team I have worked with for at least five years,” he said. “It’s a very unique property, and we have the freedom to do whatever we want and to be creative.”