CHEF SAMBRANO Food Articles Video Recipes




Friday, January 2, 2015


It is a new year, the second day of 2015, I have some personals I need to take care of when all of a sudden my iPhone 5s rings. It's my business associate Sascha Bauml.

"Hey man what you doing?"
"I'm about to hit the road and take care of some personal stuff what's up?"
"Mark just called me up I need to take some photos of his new restaurant Frida's."

Okay I'm thinking, this should be interesting because anyone in the foodie world on Maui especially the west side understands if Mark Ellman does something, a good smart betting man would put money down on any business venture he starts, and the return on investment will be SAH WEEEEEEET!!!!

Mark's other restaurants in Lahaina are Mala Ocean Tavern (in Wailea too), he's part of the team that put Chef Sheldon Simeon in his own MIGRANT restaurant also in Wailea, as well as HONU right next door to Mala, and the new FRIDA'S BEACH HOUSE.
Judy (L) Mark (R) © 2015

Mark gave me a short tour of the soon to be opened Mexican Restaurant, that like his HONU and MALA eateries sits right on the water's edge in what is known as the Mala District of Lahaina, mention Mala to anyone who lives in Lahaina, great stories will be told. However, let's get to the new restaurant.

RON: Mark, what kind of food will you be offering here?

MARK: Ron let's go tour the kitchen.

Mark shows me the kitchen, all brand spanking new cooking equipment. I was thinking 'Man, if I can get a kitchen studio like this, with a stage for my own rock band, to film our cooking shows I'll be in heaven!!'

Mark shows me his new stove, complete with an oven underneath, the topside broilers or salamanders, the soup making equipment, deep fryers for fresh fried tortillas, a butcher room that will be the home of fresh cut meats to supply his two sister restaurants right next door.

MARK: We have a room that will have all the hook ups to all the beers... you guys gotta stop by when we open and come in and have a drink.

RON: Yes, we shall... we shall Mark.

Then we walk outside.

MARK: Monkey Pod tables, hand crafted.

JUDY: Yeah, we didn't want the place to look like it could be anybody's place, as much as we can, we want to put our own stamp on it.

RON: Hey that bar looks kick ass all wood?

Judy walks me over.

JUDY: Yep, all wood, the bottom half is coated, but the workers are finishing up the top of the bar.

MARK: Check out the lights Ron, fixtures from a barn.

I look up and the place feels rustic, Lahaina rustic infused with Mexico's rustic if that makes sense. 

JUDY: And Ron the trade winds seems to be a little bit breezier here than next door at Honu and Mala, so I think the patrons will enjoy this bar.

MARK: We met in the mid-70's I was a chef at a Mexican restaurant, and Judy was bartending.

RON: I wanna cry, beautiful... and now you guys are revisiting Mexican cuisine again.

JUDY: Yes we are.

The all wood bar Judy was talking about under its finishing stages © 2015
Monkey Pod Tables on the lanai © 2015
Back of the house ©2015

Kitchen brand new © 2015

MARK: Judy has great ideas, we worked together on building this concept, there really isn't any place better than this area, right on the water brah.

RON: Yeah, imagine you've come a long way Mark, I remember Avalon, then the Maui Tacos and Penne Pasta gigs, you really are one of the geniuses on this island when it comes to the restaurant business.

MARK: (Laughs), genius or idiot.

RON: Man, no idiot starts a food biz and lasts as long as you do man, seriously, not just a great chef, a businessman with a brand. That's what sets you apart.

MARK: Well, got to keep trying.

RON: You got a 'How to Succeed in Business on Maui book?"

MARK: (Laughs) Not yet....

JUDY: Guys I got to go thanks for stopping by.

Judy is busy with some details on the flooring, I've noticed that Judy is paying attention to detail, leading me to this conclusion. Mark and Judy isn't just making money in business, they love what they do, and they love the people they associate with in business. All the people I know that work for them love them to the max, that says a lot about them.

RON: Hey Mark, how did you guys get the name Frida's?

MARK: She's a Mexican painter, an artist, a movie was made about her starring Selma Heyak. Did you see that movie?
Portait of Frida Kahlo de Rivera

RON: I think I did, it was a nuts time back then, her story...

MARK: Yeah she started painting after a bus accident as a teenager... incredible story.

Well, Frida's Beach House is like a tribute to the painter artist, if you haven't been introduced to Frida's story, try googling her. Frida Kahlo de Rivera. Her story is incredible, she kind of lived on the edge, or in fact did. Okay, go ahead, for me? I just want to sample the food!!!! In a few weeks.

MARK: As soon as we get Maui Electric to do their thing, we're just holding on.

RON: I can't wait, so is there going to be a kick ass grand opening?

MARK: (Folds his arms, and rubs his face) No, not at all, it'll be like the one we had at Honu a few years ago remember? The opening will benefit the children of Hawaii.

RON: I guess no Alice Cooper, Aerosmith concert right outside, no closing down Front Street?

MARK: (Laughs) Not this time Ron, but I'll let you know when you guys stop by and we'll have a good time.

RON: Will do chef...

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Monday, December 15, 2014


What is Tocino? What is in this meat? What kind of meat is it? Where can you purchase it?

Tocino is a breakfast meat that Filipinos fry up in a pan and serve with rice and eggs, or have it for lunch or dinner. The brand here is PAMPANGA a company according to the package has been in business since 1984. A look at their website suggests that the product's ingredients are as follows: Sugar, Water, Salt, MSG, Beet Powder, Paprika, Pork. (And a slew of other sodium whatevers for preservatives, if you're a health nut, forget this product, but if you don't give a shit, then by all means.) This is actually good stuff if you like eggs in the morning.

Pampanga is a food manufacturer based out of Anaheim, California. And you can find this product in most Filipino food marts or Asian marts, I haven't seen it in the chain supermarkets yet.

The package weighs 12 oz. so you get two good portions or three.

Until next time have a good life!
Ron Sambrano
© 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014


HEY THERE FELLA, yes you boy! Just talking good ol' comfort foods and I know you know all bout them there comfort foods. Ya know, like your mama used to make, or when your pops and his friends went a hunting, and brought home a wild boar, and smoked it, and with aunt Mabel's tater salad it was all too comforting. And what I'm bout to talk about today is when I do comfort foods, it may look uneven on your plate, and that's good good good comfort foods. I say comfort foods don't need to be photograph ready for Gourmet Magazine, no sir, it just needs to taste good and who cares what it looks like on the plate.

Photos from the top is my delicious Hamburger Steaks searing (top), and it's about ready to be done (middle), and finally plated with a pan gravy made from the drippings in the pan mmmmmm good! (bottom). The secret to this hamburger mix? 70/30 all beef to fat, salt and white pepper, tad of curry powder, eggs, and Best Foods Real Mayonnaise, and some minced green onion. Yes sir, if that ain't a comfortin I don't know what is.

The next set of photos is my Korean Style Mandu, which is basically a Korean style dumpling or Wonton. I buy the Chun Wa Kam brand Mandu wrappers a company that's based in Honolulu, Hawaii and it's sold in the local supermarkets here on Maui. The filling is ground beef..and secret seasonings, topped with green onions and some soy sauce that's it baby, comfort foods!

And these next two photos are fresh Opakapaka (Pink Snapper), it's a flaky tender fish, sweet to the taste. My sister wanted me to filet the fish which was about 2 lbs or so. I got a chance to break in my brand new Wusthoff Filet Knife I got about a week ago at the local chef supplier, an 8" flexible blade made for cutting up whole fish. From what sister told me she was gonna go and panko crust these two babies for her and her husband..bless that little woman's soul. Well, that's about it gang, hope you enjoyed my little diddy on comfort foods my way. Until next time, you all take care now you hear?

Ron Sambrano
© 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014


SALADS DON'T NEED TO BE BORRRRRRRRING! It can be spiced up and livened up and it can be a ______ing meal baby!

If you are one of those home cooks that are just brain dead when it's time to make a salad, here's some tips from yours truly, and believe me working in a vegetarian deli for a few years has paid off. In this foodie blog I'll go over some things that's really simple. And you don't need a lot of gadgets, in fact I hate gadgets, just gimme a sharp knife, a whisk, a mixing bowl, and the veggies I need and we'll be having dinner real fast. The bacon wasn't inspired from the vegetarian deli by the way, it's from mom's home cooking baby!


(Serves 2-4)

1 pound of romaine lettuce, cut into bite size pieces and rinsed well 
1 large zucchini sliced thin
2 medium tomatoes sliced into thin wedges
8 oz of mushrooms sliced thin

4- 4 oz. salmon filets
8 strips of bacon

1 1/2 cups of orange juice fresh or frozen
1/4 cup vinegar
1 inch ginger minced
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. sesame oil


1. Heat oven to 350 deg F
2. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on each salmon filet, not too much.
3. Wrap 2 strips of bacon around each filet, placing a toothpick on the bacon so it stays in place.
4. Drizzle some olive oil on a nonstick baking pan, place salmon filets into pan, and bake for about 15 minutes or until the bacon is turning crisp, be careful not to burn the dish. Check at 10 minutes to see how it is coming along. Remove and let rest.
5. Place sliced vegetables in a non-reactive mixing bowl, and toss. In another non reactive mixing bowl, mix the dressing mixture, and strain over vegetables and toss again.
6. Divide vegetables onto serving plates, and top with baked salmon. Top with mayonnaise if desired.

As you can gather, salads in my world is never every boring. I'll fry up some SPAM™ if I want to, and no one can tell me "Ron what the hell take that off!" If you're in my home in my kitchen you eat what I cook junior!!

Until next time have a great life!
Ron Sambrano

© 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


YOU are a culinary artist if you understand the tastes of your ingredients, you'll deeply discern what goes well with a juicy steak, or what goes well with a coleslaw, and what method works best for whatever it is you are cooking.

Counteracting, what does that mean? If you have a sauté pan in front of you, and you put some cooking oil in the pan, and your heat is too high, smoke emulates the indoor surroundings, your smoke detector goes off, the kids panic, you need to counter with this but in what way? Most know if you throw some cold water on that hot pan, it could burst into a mess and possibly burn you. By simply removing the pan off of the heat element, and turning the power off, you just countered positively. As for flavorings, if something is salty, you can counter it by mitigating the salts' intensity by possibly adding a bland ingredient, like water, or rice or some starch. Or, balance salty with sweet, ever tried eating those candies that have some saltiness because of maybe there's nuts, but it is covered with sweet milk chocolate? Now you get the picture.

Cooking can be a creative experience, using your ingredients, your herbs your spice rack being your paints. You can start building an epic meal by just adding a little of this and a little of that as you cook. Just remember, a good piece of beef, pork, chicken, seafood, has a flavor all its own, and by adding too much stuff on there you can hide the beautiful flavor of the protein in question. I've learned some things, and that is to keep it simple all of the time.

BEEF: Ingredients that go well with beef, are as follows, salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes, peppers, olive oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, cabbage, zucchini, mirin, sake, beer, whisky, wine, sherry, vinegar, just to name a few, and depending on the style you are cooking, you can make a very delicious beef dish by just using 3 to 4 ingredients.

PORK: Basically the same ingredients as beef, but pork has its own DNA, smoking pork cuts like the bellies, or shoulder, or spareribs makes great eats. Stir frying the loin section is a winner. Making pork soup with the bones and the chuck section is comfort foods of the plantation days.

CHICKEN: Chicken is a protein that makes great fried thighs, and drumsticks, roasted breast, and baked hot wings. Again, keep it simple, my mom used to make awesome roast chicken with just salt and pepper, garlic, and soy sauce.

SEAFOOD: Now most people do too much for seafood, I've tasted the chef's special at some resort restaurants in the past and just got pissed off because the so called chef decided to use every ingredient from Europe for that awesome cut of Opaka (Pink Snapper)… what did that do? It hid the flavor of one of my favorite fish. And don't get me started when some dumb and dumber chef decides to experiment with my 60.00 lobster that I picked outta the tank. The waiter is like, "Sir the chef is well traveled, he can do your lobster steamed, and cut all the meat up, with a simple garlic and wine butter, or you can sample his 'Mediterranean Beijing Manila Tokyo South America Fiji Guatemala' influenced lobster stir fried with Zimbabwe potatoes escargot, would you like that?" Okay shoot, gimme that. And when it comes to the table it smells like confusion right off the bat, don't even start on the taste!!!!

Okay I gotta roll, just keep it simple, start with herbs and spices that you like, sauces that you like, and don't be afraid to try new techniques out, but add all of your ingredients in the pan or pot slowly. Go and watch a lot of Food Network, though I am sick of some of those stars, haha, they do have good instructions, and most of those recipes are tested, believe me because I have a friend that is not a cook, but he watches so much Bobby Flay and Tyler Florence he's actually pretty damned good in the kitchen now days… so there you go, always think, YES I CAN! and then go and cook your heart out. 

Until next time have a great life!

Ron Sambrano
© 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014


We all go through a slump, a funk, and we can't figure out what happened until someone else points it out for us, or we just get that "shit" moment

Cooking funks are all part of the game in cooking because if you are a cook you need to pay attention to what you are doing. There's always some instance when some home cook will forget to add in a certain ingredient that was key, such as the basil in his pomodoro and he starts to trip. Or forget to put the sesame oil in his kalbi ribs marinade. That my foodies is a cooking funk. Or in a slump. What can we do to break out of this funk? It's fairly easy, don't cook for a while. You see, maybe you aren't into it, maybe there's something on your mind that's preventing you from really cooking that awesome curry, even if you are using instant stuff… if your mind is not into it, you may forget to turn on the stove, and you'll be looking at raw meat that's not searing, ahhhh!

If you are just mindless in the kitchen, take a break, and go out and buy your meals if you can afford it. Or if, if you live with other cooks, let them do the job, maybe they're just being lazy or something, but sharing the cooking duties is key too. But if you work in a professional kitchen, the restaurant already has set menus so that eliminates the funk because it's all repetitive stuff day in, day out, night in, night out. When you're responsible for creating the daily menu it can be daunting, like if you do a full-time job, you're probably too burnt out to figure out what to cook. So my advice to you home cooks is just take a break, come back to the kitchen and cooking with a fresh outlook, watch some Food Network, read some food mags, go online watch some You Tube videos on food and cooking, refresh my friends and you'll be fine. 

Until next time have a great life!

Ron Sambrano

© 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Gramma's kine cooking in Hawaii is da best! C'mon, everyone that was fortunate to have that lovable gramma that could cook better than chef A hole had it made come Sunday evening dinners. FOODIES! Gramma Rocks!

In our home Peggy my mom, was gramma foodie. Seriously, her foods were simple, and she was a genius at keeping foods simple. Her theory was, less herbs and spices when cooking, but just enough for aroma and to enhance flavors. In other words, when she stewed meats or chicken, there wasn't a lot of herbs or spices going on, "You have to taste the meat, it's beef stew not rosemary stew." So growing up, we seldom used herbs and spices the way some cooks do in their homes.

Using the cheapest cuts of beef was meant to be in our homes because for one thing we weren't wealthy money wise. The cuts we bought weren't Wagyu, USDA Prime, it was the store bought cuts that didn't look too appealing by Le Cordon Bleu standards. It was the inexpensive chuck steaks, the tough shanks, oxtails, those cuts. And when dad manned the grill, again, it was a huge ass chuck that was sliced into steaks. We had delicious chewy steaks, but we didn't give a shit, it was good to us. As we got older and more educated, we learned about the different cuts of beef, pork, and poultry that were finer. The sirloins, the juicy rib eyes, cuts such as those. We then graduated from the chuck cuts to the New Yorkers or Porters…we got foodie educated. However I would not in a gazzillion years trade in Gramma Peggy's cooking, no way!

Peggy would get 5 lbs. of chuck, cube it, season it with salt and pepper, and sear all the pieces in a large stock pot. She'd add water to cover the meat, then simmer it for like 2 hours. Once it was fork tender, she'd add in tomatoes, carrots, string beans, potatoes, tomato sauce, and some herbs to give it aroma, maybe a couple of sprigs of rosemary, a bay leaf. And cook it more until the potatoes were soft. We would have beef stew with the meat literally so soft, it wasn't cubes any longer, but strands of beef that was incorporated in the sauce. Man my friends would stay for dinner and say, "I wish my mom could cook like this." Well my mom was gramma to all the kids, so she was Gramma Foodie.

When I see chefs acting like they're all that, I gotta go to their restaurant and taste their food, and I tell you what, there's a lot of chefs who are creative, but man, I'm telling you, no chef I've ever met can cook like anyone's gramma that can kick ass in her own kitchen. I guess I'm a simple guy and I said that a gazzillion times in my blogs. Keep it simple, and you'll feed them. And they…will come back for more.


2 1/2 lb.s of chuck roast cubed
Photo for

Salt to taste
White Pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for searing
4-6 cups of water
14 fl oz. tomato sauce
1 1/2 lbs. of potatoes, cubed
1 lbs. sliced carrots
1/2 lb. trimmed string beans
2 large tomatoes quartered
2 bay leaves
1 spring rosemary

1. In a medium stock put, put some oil on the bottom over medium high heat, begin to sear all the cubes of meat. If you must do this in batches first. You want to develop a nice brown crust on each piece.

2. Add at least 4 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil, then lower to simmer covered for at least 30 minutes. Remove cover, add in all of the other ingredients, and bring up the heat to boil once again, then lower to simmer with cover on.

3. Simmer for about 30 more minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Off the heat, and leave it covered. It will continue to cook while it's covered.

Note: If you time this just right, by the time you turn off the stove, and dinner starts in an hour, that stew will be hot enough to serve, or you can heat it up once again. Also if you want, making this dish a day before is even better as all of the flavors become more incorporated, all you need to do is heat it up and serve. Adjust the seasonings, maybe you'll need more salt and pepper.

Other ways to flavor this stew is adding some red wine, or vinegar to give it some unique tastes. As far as veggies, stews go well with heavy root based veggies like potatoes, carrots, and even radish works pretty good.

Experiment with stews, use inexpensive cuts for this, like chuck for beef, butts for pork, and older whole chickens or stewing chickens. Good luck foodies! 

© 2014