Generally when you meet someone new in your life, there always seems to be that break in period before you can get comfortable with that person. In Kauai, that "break in" period did not seem to exist. No matter where we were from, every single person I met on this trip instantly treated me like a family member of their own from the moment we exchanged handshakes or hugs. I felt like a part of a community even though I barely met these people. From the truck ride, to picking maile, to the beach cookout, we did everything as a wholesome single unit. Kauai is the definition of hospitable. When life is simpler like it is there, away from technology and the pleasures I am used to, I believe it forces everyone to entertain by communicating properly, whether that was through talking story, sharing a drink, or goofing around. I am grateful for all the connections I've made on this trip.

When you hear the story behind the food that has made its way on to your plate, you appreciate it much more. It's amazing how much time went into catching and preparing the food we were eating. The raw shrimp and fried shrimp heads were gathered minutes away from the same beach we were cooking on. The Opihi with the Lomi Oio was hand-picked by the gallons. The food was simple, but you can taste the love that went into each dish. I remember taking a bite into some of the food and being transported back into my childhood where my family would eat and spend time together.

This was by far one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in my life. Thank you Chef for allowing me to come to Kauai, I can't remember the last time I was this happy and smiling and laughing.

-  Alan Nguyen