Meet The Chefs of Maui Kids Cook With Heart


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Chef Riko Bartolome

Private Chef

When Gourmet magazine’s Caroline Bates reviewed Pangaea at the Hotel Nikko in Los Angeles, she described Chef Riko Bartolome as inquisitive and free thinking—a chef who never met an ingredient he didn’t like. The saga of this San Diego native bears this out.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Bartolome began his career at the Hyatt Regency Aventine in La Jolla. His signature Asian fusion style solidified at the Grand Hyatt Wailea in Maui and climaxed at Pangaea in the Hotel Nikko in Los Angeles.

In spring 2004, he opened Asia-Vous in San Diego. The 49 seat restaurant, completely designed by he and his wife, featured the fresh local ingredients so abundant in the area and focused on the chef’s ability to create dishes which tempted the senses and challenged the palate. This restaurant garnered national recognition and was listed by Gayot as one of the Top 10 restaurants in San Diego.

In 2007 an opportunity arose for Bartolome to return to Maui to work exclusively as a Private Chef in Kapalua. It is here that Bartolome utilizes bounty from on premise farm, Pa’ina Aina, as well as supporting other local farms and fishermen. Additionally Bartolome is instrumental in mentoring local high school students at Lahainaluna.

In the spring of 2014 Bartolome was selected to open the Montage Kapalua Bay as Executive Chef, located where the legendary Kapalua Bay Hotel once stood. Here Chef Riko accepted the task of creating the identity for Cane and Canoe, the hotel’s signature restaurant as well as operating multiple food and beverage outlets. Under Bartolome’s vision and direction Cane and Canoe received the Aipono award of “Best New Restaurant” as well as “Best Hawaiian Regional Cuisine” by Maui No Ka Oi Magazine.


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Chef Craig Erickson

Director of Food and Beverage | Kaanapali Beach Club

Chef Craig Erickson was born and raised just outside of Chicago. He started working at the age of 13 in a local Italian restaurant. It was there that he found his love and excitement for the kitchen and continued expanding his experience.

After graduating high school, he started off by working under the Executive Chef in California. He decided to move back home and landed a job as the Chef de Cuisine, where he led a team of 80 cooks and 4 restaurants servicing 216 luxury suites.

He eventually moved on to an opportunity with an early-growth company, Gordon Biersch, as the Corporate Chef based in Las Vegas.  After 8 years, Erickson left friends and coworkers behind and moved west to the island of Maui.

Starting off as the regional chef for Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, he moved on to being the Executive Chef at The Sea House, to now the Food & Beverage Director for the Diamond Resorts Ka’anapali Beach Club. He came to Diamond to use his experience in developing and training the team so that Diamond can be the place to visit while in Maui.


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Chef Ryan Luckey

Executive Chef | Leilanis on the Beach

Chef Ryan Luckey began his career in the culinary industry as a line cook 20 years ago at the Red Lobster on Front Street in Lahaina Town on the island of Maui, Hawai’i. From that first experience in the kitchen, he developed and grew at the old Kapalua Grill & Bar, Plantation House at Kapalua and the Bay Club on Kapalua Bay, further refining his skill, creativity and personal style within some of Maui’s finest hotels and resorts including the Kapalua Bay Hotel, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa and The Westin Maui.

Chef Luckey also spent 6 years as Executive Chef at Pineapple Grill in Kapalua, which he evolved in to a multi-award winning restaurant and lounge, has truly allowed him to embrace the Spirit of Aloha and sense of ‘ohana through the creation of an exemplary culinary experience unique to Maui for both local residents and visitors alike. Chef Luckey’s commitment to sustainable local agriculture and Hawai’i raised and produced livestock has placed him at the forefront of the local Farm to Table movement of Maui Nui.  Most recently, Luckey served as Executive Sous Chef at the Hula Grill on Kaanapal Beach, and now serves as Chef and leader of the culinary team at Leilanis on the Beach.


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Chef Rob Mason

Private Chef

Rob Mason has always been passionate about food. From the beginning he has prided himself on providing guests with an extraordinary experience they would always remember.

Classically trained at The Art Institute of Philadelphia, Rob has worked almost every position in the kitchen. With extensive experience as a personal chef, as well as a lead banquet chef in such prestigious hotels as The Grand Wailea and Montage, Kapalua, Rob’s latest endeavor is as a private chef for hire on Maui. He specializes in pasta, seafood and local Pacific Rim cuisine. Rob is eager to provide you with an unforgettable culinary event in your home or condo.

With his strong commitment to providing guests with an authentically local and sustainable dining experience, Chef Rob is consistently building strong relationships with regional farmers, artisans and purveyors and making lasting contributions to the Maui community.

Recently, Chef Rob partnered with the American Heart Association in their culinary mentorship program called Kids Cook with Heart. The program is designed to teach local students from Lahaina Intermediate School and Lahainaluna High School the basic cooking skills so they can prepare food for themselves and their families. Junior high and high school students get to participate in this mentorship program at their schools as Chef Rob helps to inspire dozens of future chefs to hone their skills and harness their creative talents in the culinary arts.


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Chef Elizabeth (Betty) McDonald

Owner/Pastry Chef B3 | A Beach Bunny Bakery

In 2009 Elizabeth moved to the islands with her husband. Upon moving to Maui, Elizabeth became the pastry chef for Mark Ellman’s restaurants in Lahaina, Honu Seafood and Pizza and Mala an Ocean Tavern. Having access to so many different kinds of local produce has really made her flavor profile pop. In 2012 Elizabeth was named a Rising Star from StarChefs.com for her bright and vibrant flavors in gluten free and vegan baking.

Since her Rising Star honor, Elizabeth has participated in many island wide events. From being noted chef at the 2013 Hawaii Food and Wine Festival on Oahu, to a judge at the 2014 Big Island Chocolate Festival. Elizabeth has also had the privilege of helping with Maui Culinary Academy events. Elizabeth is now embarking on a new adventure.

July 2014 Elizabeth will be opening B3 “A Beach Bunny Bakery”. Specializing in cakes and cupcakes for all occasions. B3 will also have whole items available for restaurants and coffee shops who want to serve locally made and always delicious pastries and desserts.


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Chef Paris Nabavi

Chef & Owner | Sangrita Grill + Cantina and Pizza Paradiso Mediterranean Grill

Recipient of the ‘Aipono Lifetime Achievement Award, Chef Paris Nabavi studied culinary arts in Europe. Traveling the world, cooking and tasting many different cuisines, he eventually worked his way up the corporate ladder with Fairmont Hotels. He arrived on Maui in 1989 to serve as Director of Food and Beverage for Kapalua Bay Hotel. In 1998 he opened the award-winning Pizza Paradiso Mediterranean Grill in Honokowai Marketplace serving Maui with Italian, Greek and Middle Eastern comfort food. In 2014 the award-winning Sangrita Grill + Cantina was born. 

Chef Nabavi gives back to his community. He hosts quarterly Persian dinners at his home, with 100% of the donations supporting Grow Some Good, a Maui based nonprofit that teaches gardening to children and inspires better nutritional choices. Chef Nabavi also funds the purchase of organic seeds for all schools in Maui County through the Maui School Garden Network.

Paris Nabavi is founder of the Nabavi Legacy Fund—which promotes a year-round dining program called Maui RSVP (Restaurants Supporting Vital Programs). The collaborative effort recruits restaurants into Maui’s healthy kids and local food movement. The beneficiaries include Book Trust, Maui Academy of Performing Arts, Maui Culinary Academy, Maui Food Innovation Center, Grow Some Good, Imua Family Services, Maui School Garden Network, and American Heart Association’s Kids and Teens Cook with Heart program into four public schools in Lahaina. In 2013 Chef Nabavi was awarded Mayor’s Exceptional Small Business of the Year.


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Chef Kaipo Nagata

Executive Chef | Sansei Kapalua

An advocate for farmers and fishermen and a hunter himself, Chef Kaipo Nakata truly believes that the best and, obviously, freshest ingredients come from your own back yard. Lucky for his customers, his back yard really is Kapalua, Maui. Growing up within a mile of Sansei’s original location definitely makes Chef Kaipo very comfortable in his surroundings.

“From a young age, I knew I wanted to cook. I grew up cooking with my grandma. When my cousins were surfing I was the one in the kitchen making lunch. My father is an avid gardener, fisherman, and hunter. Later, hanging out with my Uncle in Kā’anapali resort kitchens (he was executive sous chef at the Sheraton Maui) helped me realize that cooking professionally would be a part of my future.”

At 15, when he was still a student at Lahainaluna High School, Kaipo worked nights and weekends as a line cook at the long-gone Jameson’s AND as a golf caddy at the Kapalua Bay Golf course. After graduation, he held down three jobs – as a deck hand on a busy fishing boat during the day, food runner at the Planation House Restaurant at Kapalua and working on the line at renowned (and now gone) Bay Club of the Kapalua Bay Hotel (also gone). Cooking at these restaurants provided him with a sound foundation and confirmed his dream of becoming a Chef.  After taking a few months off to explore Europe with his wife, Kaipo was hired as Sous Chef at Pineapple Grill in Kapalau in 2006.

He has been with the DK Restaurant Group since 2008, working in three of the Maui restaurants. In 2009 he came “home” to the Kapalua restaurant as Executive Chef.


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Chef Jojo Vasquez

Executive Chef | The Plantation House

Chef Jojo Vasquez’s cuisine pays respect to locality, using diverse cooking techniques and modern presentations. Vasquez, a native of Chicago, had an early passion and engagement in the restaurant and culinary business working under the wings of his father’s catering company. Vasquez took this passion for cooking with him when he trained at Kendall Culinary School. 

He came to Maui in 2005 as chef de cuisine for The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua resort’s Banyan Tree Restaurant, one of Maui’s most coveted culinary locations. After a few years, he moved to Oahu to join Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s team as executive chef at Morimoto Waikiki. During this time, he assisted the iconic chef for two seasons of “Iron Chef America.” He returned to The Banyan Tree in 2010, earning several accolades for the establishment.

In 2013, Vasquez moved onto a new opportunity to lead the Plantation House Restaurant, a Cohn Restaurant Group restaurant atop Kapalua’s Plantation Golf Course.