three’s bar & grill / fork & salad / three’s catering: the unstoppable culinary trio of kihei

Kihei, Maui, Hawaii.

The past year has been remarkably eventful for the trio of ambitious chefs—Jaron Blosser, Cody Christopher, and Travis Morrin—who own the ever-expanding Three’s culinary empire. In July of 2016, they opened a brand-new, fast-casual restaurant they named Fork & Salad Maui in Azeka Shopping Center in Kihei. Its mission is to “redefine the possibilities of farm-to-table cuisine as healthy, quick, convenient and affordable, so it can be enjoyed every day by everyone.”

Fork & Salad offers chef-inspired salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, juices, organic coffee, and the largest kombucha tap on the island, all served up in a Subway-style concept where your food is made right before your eyes. The restaurant has racked up numerous 5-star TripAdvisor reviews, with many saying not only is it a great place for healthy fare that doesn’t break the budget, it’s also ideal for folks with special dietary needs, and/or food allergies.

A few months later, on October 23, 2016, an early-morning kitchen fire broke out at Three’s Bar & Grill in Kihei’s Kalama Village. Fortunately no one was there when what is now thought to be an electrical fire destroyed the area primarily used for catering, and left smoke and water damage throughout the remainder of the kitchen and restaurant.

The fire obviously forced a temporary closure of Three’s, but it also left the chef threesome scrambling for a place to continue their catering operation, which includes providing the meals for 12 Pacific Whale Foundation cruises every day. “Luckily, food for the morning cruises had already gone out,” recalls Chef Jaron.

Acting quickly, Jaron contacted their landlord and made arrangements to use the kitchen at what used to be Rita’s Steak & Fish House, upstairs from Three’s. “We got it cleaned up and certified within twenty-four hours,” Jaron says. But the elevator was out of order, so our staff members had to carry everything up the stairs every day. “We made it work with everyone’s help and dedication to the business.”

The restaurant was closed for 40 days, during which time the owners worked tirelessly to rebuild the kitchen. “We were able to move back in to Three’s on December 1,” Jaron says. “It was an intense time for us and we were exhausted. So we decided we weren’t going to take on anything new for awhile.”

But Guy Fieri, celebrity chef and host of Food Network’s top-rated show “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” had other plans for the chefs. “Earlier this year, Food Network contacted us to let us know we were being considered for the show,” Jaron recalls. They later discovered Guy had sent a friend of his who owns a restaurant on O‘ahu in to Three’s to “shop” them. They clearly passed muster, because they received another call from Food Network in early April letting them know filming would take place on April 9. “We pride ourselves on our immaculate kitchen, but the network said their high def cameras catch even the smallest blemish,” Jaron says. So the chefs and their staff spent a week cleaning and polishing everything in sight.

Filming the show, which aired on July 21, 2017 took two days. “We prepared our Three’s Traditional Ramen and our new Asian Inspired Beer Can Chicken for Guy,” Jaron says. “He was a lot of fun, and we think he really liked us and our food. For us, it was a dream come true to be featured on ‘Triple D.’”

In the meantime, having learned from pal Chris Schobel, who owns neighboring Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse BBQ, that being featured on “Triple D” results in a tremendous increase in business, Jaron, Cody, and Travis decided to remodel the bar area at Three’s. “We’d already been selling out most nights, and knew it was time to add dinner seating in the bar,” says Jaron.

In fact, this evening, Janet and I are seated in one of the sleek new bar-area booths anticipating a tasty meal as we talk story with Chef Jaron. One of the things we appreciate most about Three’s is there’s something to please every palate on the menu, from Hawaiian, to Southwest, to Pacific Rim cuisine. And the popular sushi bar is now located front and center in the midst of all the action in the bar.

To start things off, we dive into the ‘Ahi Carpaccio ($12.75). Shimmering, ruby-red raw tuna is thinly sliced and topped with jalapeno rings, cilantro leaves, and li hing mui candied macadamia nuts, all sitting atop a luscious citrus ponzu. On the side are ribbons of fresh, crunchy daikon and carrot. It’s a dish with nicely contrasting textures, and the jalapenos lend a southwestern flair. We’re also enjoying a refreshing wakame (seaweed) salad ($3), along with cocktails: Top Shelf Margarita for Janet ($6.50 Happy Hour special pricing), and D’Lime in D’Coconut for me ($12).

Next, we nosh on the Mediterranean Whole Wheat Flat Bread Salad ($14.25), which resembles a pizza crust topped with salad. In fact, you could make an entire meal out of this delectable and satisfying concoction of grilled flat bread slathered with savory, house-made hummus, along with hearts of romaine, baby heirloom tomatoes, kalamata olives, Spanish onions, cucumbers, Caesar dressing, and feta cheese. Meat lovers can add grilled chicken breast for an additional $6.75.

For the main event, we’ve chosen the Asian Inspired Beer Can Chicken (featured on Three’s Triple D appearance—$24.50), and the Braised Maui Cattle Short Rib ($25.25). The beer can chicken is comfort food at its finest, marinated with Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter, and finished with citrus-hoisin glaze. It’s accompanied by seductive bacon-fried Brussels sprouts, and creamy russet mashed potatoes.

The oh-so-tender-you-don’t-need-a-knife truffle-yaki braised short rib is served over Iwamoto Family ramen noodles that have been sautéed with local kale, oyster mushrooms, baby heirloom tomatoes, fresh corn, garlic, balsamic sesame caramelized onions, and a house pepper blend. It’s easy to see why this dish sells out nearly every night.

For dessert, it’s a no-brainer to crave the Seasonal Fruit Cobbler ($10), which this evening features ripe, juicy peaches baked in an oatmeal-based batter, laced with Tahitian vanilla bean, sprinkled with brown-sugar streusel, and accompanied by vanilla ice cream. It’s both rustic and addictive.

In April of this year, shortly after the Triple D filming, our irrepressible trio of chefs won the “Maui County Farm Bureau’s Friend of Agriculture” award at Maui No Ka ‘Oi magazine’s annual ‘Aipono Awards ceremony. Although ‘Aiponos are generally awards of honor and distinction determined by the magazine’s readers, as well as the residents and visitors of Maui, the Friend of Agriculture special award winner is selected each year by the Farm Bureau. “We are truly dedicated to our Maui farmers and other local vendors,” Jaron says. “We even use Ni‘ihau lamb for our popular lamb chili at Fork & Salad.”

Resting on their laurels just isn’t these three chefs’ style. Plans are in the works to expand their Fork & Salad concept to both Kahului and Lahaina. Three cheers for this seemingly unstoppable trio!

–heidi pool

AT A GLANCE…

WHAT •

Three’s Bar & Grill offering three style of cuisine from three talented chefs: Hawaiian, Southwestern, and Pacific Rim. Fork & Salad features chef-inspired and build-your-own salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, juices, organic coffee and more.

WHERE •

Three’s is located in Kihei’s Kalama Village. Fork & Salad is located in the Azeka Shopping Center, also in Kihei.

WHEN •

Three’s open daily for breakfast, lunch, Happy Hour, and dinner from 8:30am to 10pm Monday through Friday; 8am to 10pm Saturday & Sunday. Fork & Salad open daily from 10:30am to 9pm.

HOW •

Reservations highly recommended for Three’s: 879-3133; threesbarandgrill.com. Fork & Salad is a casual eatery.

 

 

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