The Hawai‘i Tart Company ‘ohana shares the story behind the ‘ono liliko‘i caramel macadamia nut tarts which were given as makana to Kamehameha Schools kumu during National Teacher Appreciation Week. The company grows its ingredients on ‘Āina Pauahi in Hōnaunau, South Kona.
Contributed by Crystal Kua
On the slopes of Mauna Loa on Hawai‘i Island, the volcanic soil and climate of ma uka Hōnaunau in the district of South Kona provide just the right ingredients for cultivating a variety of crops including coffee and macadamia nuts.
“It’s just incredible how things survive and grow,” said farmer and KS tenant Lynne Sharman. Sharman, partner Martha Brahm and Martha’s son, Matthew Zilch, have combined their agricultural and culinary backgrounds to take the concept of farm-to-table to an experience that benefits community including KS kumu across the pae ‘āina this week.
They work the land on five acres of KS agricultural ‘āina that they call “Mac Nut Grove Farm” and have also established “Hawai‘i Tart Company,” a separate culinary business to take their crops to have a higher market value.
One of those value-added products, a caramel macadamia tart, made with macadamia nuts, liliko‘i and other ingredients from their farm, was chosen to become the makana given to KS kumu as part of National Teacher Appreciation Week commemorations this week.
Teacher Appreciation Week this year also overlaps with the kick-off week of KS’ “Eat Local Challenge,” an internal employee activity supporting local food in Hawai‘i.
The video aligns both efforts by providing a storytelling opportunity to connect anecdotally what KS is doing on ‘Ᾱina Pauahi to its educational mission and to Hawai‘i’s food system. Conversations with KS Land Asset Manager Perry Kealoha eventually led to the land agreement that became Mac Nut Grove Farm.
“Perry saw a sort of different scenario with us,” said Brahm, who graduated in 1976 from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. “Lynn has lots of experience taking care of the land and I have a lot of experience cooking. And he thought that might be an innovative combination and he saw potential. And he gave us the opportunity to lease this amazing property.”
Brahm worked in and ran restaurants and owned a catering business in different states including in her hometown of Memphis, Tenn., before coming to Hawai‘i. Sharman grew up in England and was a professional golfer, which is what brought her to the United States.
“I had realized that the reason I loved to golf was because I loved to be outdoors,” Sharman said. “So, it seems like a wonderful fit to have a farm – I love working outdoors, I don’t mind manual work and so that’s how it all came together. I had really started pining for a coffee farm basically because I wanted to try and make a living and be outdoors in a gorgeous climate. It seems like with Martha’s innovation and her culinary background, they really came together really well.”
The third part of the equation is Martha’s son, Matthew Zilch, the operations manager at the Hawai‘i Tart Company who oversees the creation of the product. “My background is a little untraditional as far as the food service business goes. Both of my parents were classically-trained chefs and I grew up in their kitchens so that gave me a really unique inculcation into the world of food. In many ways it’s sort of second nature at this point,” Zilch said.
On the video, Zilch shows us the step-by-step process of how they make the tarts. “What makes our tarts really special is the fact that we utilize as many macadamia nuts as we possibly can and they come from our farm. We also make a liliko‘i caramel tart – the liliko‘i comes from our farm. We use honey from Big Island Bees and they actually have beehives that are catty corner to our property.
Also assisting with the making of the video was Nā Kula Kamali‘i and its KS preschool in Hōnaunau, which provided the backdrop for the delivery of the macadamia tart to kumu via Kumu Angelica Sanchez.
“We are so grateful to Kamehameha Schools for this property,” Brahm said. “We think about it all the time, I get teary-eyed thinking about it. And the thought that we may be able to do a nice present for the teachers, is just very gratifying.”
Kaipuolono Article, Regions, West Hawai’i, East Hawai’i, Themes, Culture, Community, Hawaii Newsroom, KS Hawaii Home, Kapalama Newsroom, Kapalama Home, Maui Newsroom, KS Maui Home, Newsroom, Campus Programs, Hawaii, Kapalama, Maui