Chef Thomas Naylor, founder of the well-respected catering service Ke Nui Kitchen on Oahu's North Shore, comes from a restaurateur family. His grandfather owned Southern California's famous Tiny Naylor's chain, and his father and uncles owned Van de Kamp's Holland Dutch Bakeries and various other restaurants over the years. As a result, Naylor has come to value fresh ingredients and what he calls “clean eating” principles.
As the lead chef, Naylor applied these principles to the menu he created for the Weedmaps Pipe House in Oahu, where Weedmaps Sports surfers, skaters, and riders gathered in early January to take part in the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout and immerse themselves in Hawaiian culture.
Hawaii's isolation also plays a role in Ke Nui Kitchen's clean-eating principles, Naylor said, as it just became unsustainable to keep shipping food in. So the company works entirely with local farmers, a wide variety of fish is always available from local fishers, beef is sourced from Molokai, everything is made from scratch, according to Naylor.
The company, founded in 2012, caters weddings and various events, including the annual Triple Crown of Surfing contests. Naylor has cultivated a healthful food ethos serving pro surfers during the long contest days.
“You can eat healthy all day long, and focus on what foods are good for your activity, but there also is something to be said about making and eating really good food,” he said. “Sometimes it works for recovery and sometimes it's about mood.”
When Naylor first began planning food for the Weedmaps team's multi-week stay at Pipehouse, he admitted that he underestimated their goals. The house was stacked with supplies courtesy of Arizona's Wasted Grain. From Ke Nui, the athletes expected an authentic and healthy Hawaiian food experience from Ke Nui Kitchen.
“We didn't know much about Weedmaps, so our initial proposal was, 'OK, these guys smoke a lot of weed,” he said. “'Let's give them a lot of heavier food.'”
But Naylor quickly found out he was dealing with athletes and swapped his original plan for what he describes as a “brunchy style” to “cover the gambit” of needs, diets, and moods in the house. He opted for a menu that emphasized foods for healing and recovery, but that would also be fun and inviting to eat.
“We let the food speak for itself,” he said.
The menu included a simple salad with fresh greens, local produce, and vinaigrettes that Naylor said promote gut balance. The chef used various sources of fiber and natural vitamins in the raw produce. Also included were anti-inflammatory Rishi herbal teas. Naylor said the Weedmaps athletes needed some protein-heavy foods such as chicken and organic eggs, a variety of of beans, lean fish, macadamia nuts, and for vegans a tofu scramble with turmeric.
Naylor also used nutritionally rich produce and grains including rice, potatoes, chia seeds, quinoa, beets, radishes, kale, and sea asparagus. Some of the dishes were infused with CBD oils, but like the entire menu, Naylor allowed each athlete to eat the way he wanted. Most people probably don't need to eat quite like this all the time, but Naylor said practicing clean eating at home can still be easy to balance nutrition with mood.
“[Clean eating involves] incorporating fresh-shaved, uncooked veggies and to use simple vinaigrettes with a variety of vinegar, oils, citrus, mustards, and honey agave other natural sweeteners available. Also adding raw garlic, ginger, and turmeric to dressings and sauces is clean without preservatives,” Naylor said. “The combinations are endless.”