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(Photo by Andrew Richard Hara)

Born and raised in Hawaiʻi, Chef Brian Hirata grew up hunting, fishing, farming and foraging and his connection to those lifeways continues to be at the heart of his craft and work. Chef Brian would go on to graduate from the Culinary Arts Program at Hawai`i Community College, as well as gain valuable experience and an expert set of skills as the Sous Chef at The Hualālai Grille by Alan Wong. He also served as the Culinary Art Program Coordinator for Hawaiʻi Community College, passing on his passion for local ingredients to the next generation of Hawaiʻiʻs chefs.

On foraging trips he would teach team members, many of which are former students of his, how to source and preserve natural resources like hāpuʻu and hōiʻo ferns, freshwaters prawns and limu ʻeleʻele (black seaweed). In a recent interview for Hana Hou magazine he spoke of the need for a renewed connection to our local food resources. “Just three or four generations ago, the entire population was eating these things. These are foods I ate as a child that my students don’t recognize today. We can’t afford to be so detached from our food sources—and that can happen quickly if it’s not passed down.”

(Photo by Andrew Richard Hara)

Present day, Chef Brian serves as the creative force behind Naʻau, a pop-up dining experience on Hawaiʻi Island, where he works to showcase wild, often overlooked, local and endemic ingredients linking cherished traditional foods to environmental stewardship.

Our relationship with Chef Brian began a few years ago with an inquiry for deer hearts. We have watched on in delight ever since as he has worked with our venison - from hearts, to stew chunks, to kidneys - and even had the great joy of joining one of his incredible dinners. As humongous fans of his mission to honor and elevate the flavors of place, we are so thrilled to be able to share three kidney recipes by Chef Brian. 

Mahalo nui Chef and mahalo to the whole team over at Naʻau, hō ka ʻono!

Brined, mixed, stuffed, twisted, then smoked- these hand-crafted Venison Kidney Sausages are wildly flavorful, nourishing, and far from any ordinary link. Try it in any recipe that calls for sausage or can be used as an exotic hotdog. Chef Brian also notes that it tastes excellent in Caldo Verde or Portuguese soup.

These eat-with-your-hands Kidney Lettuce Wraps are as delicious as they are nutritious. Lightly fried venison kidneys with crunchy toppings and a tasty dipping sauce come together for a light but wholesome meal. It requires a bit of prepping, but we can ensure you it's a stand-out dish that'll have you looking at kidneys in a whole new way.

Chef Brian gives us the inspiration we need to turn kidneys into a delicacy with this Smoked Kidney Appetizer recipe. Prepared with several steps, smoked to perfection, and enjoyed as an appetizer or snack. 

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