Our Roots Run Deep

About Merriman's

Twenty-Five years ago, no one dreamed of growing vine ripened tomatoes, fresh sweet corn or crisp baby lettuce in Hawaii. Sugar cane and pineapple plantations dominated the farming landscape, and most food was shipped to Hawaii from thousands of miles away.

Chef Peter Merriman had a vision for the growth of local agriculture and the potential of Hawaii’s rich volcanic soils. He along with twelve other prominent chefs encouraged farmers to grow local prouce, raise meats locally, and start a healthier more sustainable Hawaii.

The Chef

The chef

Peter Merriman

Peter Merriman has been as a culinary pioneer in Hawaii for over 25 years. Known as the original “locavore”, Peter is a vocal champion of Hawaii’s farmers, ranchers and fishermen. His restaurants showcase island grown and harvested foods through simple preparations that reflect the myriad flavors of Hawaii’s multiculturalism. Dubbed the “Pied Piper of Hawaii Regional Cuisine” by The Los Angeles Times, he is a continuing inspiration to Hawaii’s thriving culinary scene.

Early Years

Peter was raised in Pittsburgh. His mother Woodene (Woody) Merriman, a noted Pittsburgh Post Gazette food writer, exposed Peter to the intricacies of food preparation at a young age. Noting his interest in cooking, Woody got him a job doing prep work for Master Chef Ferdinand Metz at the H. J. Heinz Co. Chef Metz later became president of the Culinary Institute of America.

In early 1983, Peter was hired as a cook for the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel. He arrived in Hawaii with one suitcase and $75 in his pocket thinking he would stay a few months at the most. But he fell in love with the natural beauty of the islands and the rich culture of the people who live there. In 1985, only two years after his arrival, he was appointed Executive Chef of the Mauna Lani Resort’s new Gallery Restaurant.

Chef and Pioneer of Hawaii Regional Cuisine

At his interview for the job as chef of The Gallery Restaurant, Peter was asked what type of food he wanted to feature. Without thinking, he said “regional cuisine” and went on to explain how no other restaurants were serving the local fish and produce. When he got the job, he had to deliver on the concept but quickly discovered there were almost no local products available. Peter advertised in the newspapers and went out to the farms, ranches and docks to let local producers know he wanted whatever they had. “We’re in this together,” he told them, “If you grow it or catch it, I’ll buy it, and we all succeed.” Pretty soon he had built solid partnerships and local producers would try to get or grow whatever he needed.

Restauranteur

In 1988, Peter opened his signature upcountry restaurant, Merriman’s, in Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii. He was proclaimed, "A gourmet in cowboy country" by Hana Hou!, the Magazine of Hawaiian Airlines. The New York Times raved “Everything at Merriman’s…features the freshest local ingredients paired in exciting ways,” and San Francisco Magazine exclaimed “His Wok-charred Ahi is to die for!”

Two more fine dining restaurants were added to the Merriman’s Hawaii group in 2008 and 2009 - Merriman’s Kapalua, on the grounds of the scenic resort on Maui’s West Side, and Merriman’s Fish House in Poipu, Kauai. Downstairs from the fish house, Peter offers casual dining at Merriman’s Gourmet Pizza & Burgers.

In winter 2011, Peter launched a new venture in casual dining with restaurateur Bill Terry. Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman is a place where beer lovers, families, and foodies come together. The restaurant features locally sourced menus with a focus on sustainable meat, fish and produce. With two locations, one on Maui and one on Oahu, Peter and Bill plan to grow the chain over the next few years.

The Farmers

"My heroes have always been farmers"

Twenty-Five years ago, no one dreamed of growing vine ripened tomatoes, fresh sweet corn or crisp baby lettuce in Hawaii. Sugar cane and pineapple plantations dominated the farming landscape, and most food was shipped to Hawaii from thousands of miles away.

Chef Peter Merriman had a vision for the growth of local agriculture and the potential of Hawaii’s rich volcanic soils. He along with twelve other prominent chefs encouraged farmers to grow local prouce, raise meats locally, and start a healthier more sustainable Hawaii.

Meet the Farmers

The food

The Food

Twenty-Five years ago, no one dreamed of growing vine ripened tomatoes, fresh sweet corn or crisp baby lettuce in Hawaii. Sugar cane and pineapple plantations dominated the farming landscape, and most food was shipped to Hawaii from thousands of miles away.

Chef Peter Merriman had a vision for the growth of local agriculture and the potential of Hawaii’s rich volcanic soils. He along with twelve other prominent chefs encouraged farmers to grow local produce, raise meats locally, and start a healthier more sustainable Hawaii.

The Islands

The Islands

Twenty-Five years ago, no one dreamed of growing vine ripened tomatoes, fresh sweet corn or crisp baby lettuce in Hawaii. Sugar cane and pineapple plantations dominated the farming landscape, and most food was shipped to Hawaii from thousands of miles away.

Chef Peter Merriman had a vision for the growth of local agriculture and the potential of Hawaii’s rich volcanic soils. He along with twelve other prominent chefs encouraged farmers to grow local prouce, raise meats locally, and start a healthier more sustainable Hawaii.