The Whole Ox Deli and Malama Farm
The Whole Ox Deli opened yesterday, with a chalkboard menu of sandwiches: porchetta, housemade roast beef, dry-aged burger and a “K+Z,” a Jewish deli smorgasbord with pastrami, chicken liver and onions. In the deli case: salads and terrines such as a headcheese and pork and cherry pate.
The Whole Ox Deli sources its pigs from Shinsato and Malama Farm on Maui. After trying some sandwiches and the pate at Whole Ox, I literally went straight to Maui to check out Malama Farm in Haiku, the first piggery in the state to raise Berkshire pigs on pasture. Berkshire pork, also called kurobuta by the Japanese, is well-marbled with fat, and here in Haiku, they certainly look fat and happy. (I’m well aware that I’m probably looking at the siblings of the pate I had just a few hours earlier.)
Lehua and David Fitch, a software consultant and furniture-maker respectively, started Malama Farm with no livestock nor farming experience and were able to raise pork, from litter to market in less than two years. It’s astonishing in the livestock industry in particular; I’m still waiting for Oahu-raised milk and chicken, projects that were started at least four years ago and still have a ways to go.
The Fitchs aren’t saying it’s easy, but Lehua does say that not having any preconceived notions of what might or might not work freed them to do what they thought was best for the pigs’ well-being and for maximum flavor. With chefs like Bob McGee of The Whole Ox, Ed Kenney of town and Neil Murphy of Merriman’s on board, it seems that the proof is in the pork.