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Let’s Talk Food: Happenings at Kilauea Lodge

  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Kilauea Lodge specials the day the author visited.

  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON A pot of clam chowder sits on a stove at Kilauea Lodge.

  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Chef Kurt Nelson at Kilauea Lodge.

  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Kilauea Lodge

Kurt Nelson was named chef of Kilauea Lodge by Highway West, the new owners. Lorna and Albert Jeyte retired after many years of hard work. It will be nice to invite them to dinner and know that Albert will be there. He missed so many dinners with us because he had to work because someone called in sick or didn’t show up in the kitchen.

Kurt started as a line cook a year ago and worked with Albert in the kitchen. When the sale of Kilauea Lodge was imminent, Albert asked Kurt to consider taking on the role as chef. No stranger to the restaurant business, Kurt and his wife, Heda, arrived in Kauai from Michigan in 2000, and both worked for Roy’s Restaurant there — Kurt as a sous chef and Heda as a pastry chef.

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Heda attended KCC and graduated from the culinary program with straight A’s. That motivated them to move to Oahu so Heda could attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa and receive a degree in English and psychology. While Heda was at school, Kurt worked at Buzz’s Steak House in Lanikai.

They returned to Kauai in 2012 to open a catering company, Glass Beach Gourmet, and sold the business in 2016.

Heda was accepted for a master’s program in New Zealand, but it took more than three months to get their visa paperwork together. By that time, classes had already started. They decided to instead come to the Big Island, specifically to Volcano, to live a quiet life.

That did not last long as Kurt was hired as a line cook in 2017.

And the rest is history.

The day I was interviewing Kurt, he was making a huge pot of clam chowder. Other soups he made for the week included potato leek and navy bean. The specials for lunch included Panko Crusted Marlin with Mango Sriracha Aioli and the Soup of the Day was Beef Vegetable.

The popular dishes will remain on the menu at Kilauea Lodge, but Chef Kurt said he will be working on new and exciting dishes he prepared while employed at Roy’s and Buzz’s Steak House.

The breakfast and brunch menus have not changed, with King’s Benedict, Volcano Loco, Wiki Grinder, Steam Vent, Chief Ranger and Pahoehoe Lava for their house specials; Lava Tube, Caldera, East Rift and Green Sands omelets; Fissure and Banana or Blueberry Pancakes; and Black Sand Beach French Toast.

The lunch menu has an extensive selection of salads: Curried Chicken, Grilled Chicken, Cobb, Steak and Salad Nicoise. Sandwiches include: Fresh fish, Reuben, Beefeater, Lodge Club, Vegetarian, Portobello Mushroom and Chicken. Local favorites are: Fish and Chips, Chief Ranger, German Sausage Plate, Volcano Loco and Curry Chicken Bowl.

Burgers with the choice of antelope, buffalo or Big Island grass-fed beef include: Kilauea Classic Burgers, Mauna Kea, Ka‘u, Mauna Loa or Mini-Burger Combos.

For dinner, Chef Kurt is working on new flavors for the New York steak and new sauces for the fresh catch of the day. Dinner selections include the fresh catch of the day, Seafood Mauna Kea, German Sausage Plate, Lamb Provencal, New York Steak, Prosciutto Primavera, Safari Schnitzel, Chicken Tuscany, Broiled Duck Breast and Eggplant Parmesan.

Kilauea Lodge serves Kamuela tomatoes, Big Island grass-fed beef, Big Island greens, Volcano tea, Ka‘u special coffee and other Hawaii products.

Longtime employee of Kilauea Lodge Janet Coney was named general manager and Suzie Hendershot was named shop manager by Highway West, which is based in Irvine, Calif.

Foodie bites

Kilauea Lodge has been known for its house-made soups. When it is cool, as it is often in Volcano, there is nothing better than a good, hearty soup. Chef Kurt is continuing this tradition.

Most soups taste better the next day. I remember going to Koele Lodge on Lanai and on the menu is Yesterday’s Soup. This Beef Vegetable Soup will be better the next day.

Beef Vegetable Soup

Serves: 6

1 pound beef stew meat

1 round onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces

3 celery ribs, chopped into 1-inch pieces

3 carrots, peeled, chopped into 1-inch cubes

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup frozen corn

2 cup frozen peas

1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 ( 14 ounce) cans beef broth

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 cups water

Cut meat into small, bite-size pieces.

In a soup pot, saute meat in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on medium-high heat until all sides are brown.

Remove and place beef on a plate. In same soup pot, saute celery, onions, potatoes and carrots with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil until onions are golden.

Add browned beef, water, beef broth, tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots, frozen corn, bay leaves and garlic powder.

Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until beef is tender, about one hour. Add frozen peas and simmer for 20 minutes.

• • •

Here is Chef Robert Irvine’s recipe for Potato Leek Soup:

Potato Leek Soup

Serves: 8

8 cups chicken stock

6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces

4 leeks, white parts only, thoroughly washed and sliced

3 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup heavy cream

Put the chicken stock, potatoes, leeks, celery, bay leaf and thyme in a large pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Boil until the potatoes are soft, 15 to 20 minutes.

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Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Add cream and simmer until the soup has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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