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Hawaiian Theme Cook Out Ideas?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've just booked a small birthday party for 35 people and the theme is Hawaiian. So far, she wants ribs, baked beans, cole slaw, and and carrot cake. Doesn't sound very Hawaiian to me. Any ideas for the menu? It's outside and the meats will be cooked on the grill. I have access to a kitchen, but I'd prefer to have most everything prepared before I get there.

post #2 of 12
Hi Lentil

Alot of times the theme is more decorative than food authentic, but here are some suggestions to offer as alternatives

asian glazed ribs with either teriyaki or hoisin plum bbq sauce - also soy voy makes a teriyaki marinade that trader joes sells that would be pretty good. another alternative a sweet and sour sauce for glazing the ribs
when they are finished

baked beans - add some pineapple and mango to them and go tropical

coleslaw - well you could do something similar to the beans (mango, pineapple slaw) but not together.

you could also make the slaw a bit spicy by adding wasabi to it.

red and green slaw - or use nappa cabbage for a more asian flair.

you could serve the coleslaw in chinese take out containers

I have lots of tropical trays that can be either very casual or upscale and fun. They are carved wooden banana leaves and other tropical fruits.

I understand that Target and the like have alot of tropical serving ware.

Cover the tables with giant leaves _ I think they are called monstera but palm leaves or banana leaves work well too. Again, I have most of these in realistic fakes - and we use them for a variety of events not just tropical.

you can make a palm tree out of a pineapple or a bunch of pineapples staked together - a few sites sell the tools to easily do it, but you can also figure it out if you are handy or know someone who does. Check out the recent catering magazines, the company advertises in all of them.

what about a macadamia nut slaw

as for the carrot cake, use thinly sliced pineapple (fresh) and grated coconut for the frosting along with the cream cheese. Viola pina colada carrot cake

see - all you have to do is apply some tropical ingredients.

do you have one of those beneriner vegetable curlers - you can make great curly carrots and diakon decor from that.

you could also do a sand and water theme, maybe have the sand under a glass riser, so there is no chance of the food getting sand in it.

Starfish, shells - freeze shells in a milk carton (not plastic the half gallon paper ones) or in a jello ring mold - could even freeze some real or fake flower buds along with the shells.

too tired to think of more ideas off the top of my head, but will post more if I wake up again. Hope this helps - goggle luau themes too and check the archives both here and on caterer to caterer forum (harder to search but lots of great posts)
Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
post #3 of 12
What's the budget? I love tigerwoman's ideas for incorporating tropical items. But why not go "whole hog" LOL!? Either do a roasted suckling pig and make it a focal point or one of the focal points on the table? You could also (space allowing) sub-contract a local to cook a whole hog on a special roasting rack. We used to do that in Austin. The Pig is litterally split and flattened between two huge racks and then it's roasted all day. It's quite a show and absolutely delicious.

The small suckling pigs can be done by you. Put a small apple or crabapple in it's mouth or maybe a small tropical fruit ;) ! You could also cook a firm flaky fish in banana leaves (think sea bass, snapper, mahi mahi) and use pacific rim flavors. You could grill pineapple. You could do seafood skewers with scallops and shrimp with mango and pineapple.

The slaws I would do with asian ingredients. Maybe even do a peanut or sesame cold noodle salad. You could do a roasted taro and sweet potato vinaigrette salad with bacon or lardons in it. You could do a chopped and pickled purple onion condiment with lime and onions, vinegar and touch of sugar.

Love the idea of the pineapple carrot cake. For appetizers you could do a tempura bar where you fry to order, veggies, seafood, pineapple, mango, papaya, carambola with delicious sauces.

You could serve fried wonton triangles with different fillings and sauces/tropical fruit chutneys.

I think Mai Tais and Pina Coladas would be festive drinks to have but in the absence of hard liquor bar, maybe you could do a Mai Tai sorbet for dessert choices and a Pina Colada ice cream to go on regular carrot cake?

Also you could do a Celestial Seasoning Red Zinger Tea with Hibiscus Flowers floating in it.

Anyway, just some ideas. One thing though...poi is "icky to most people" lol! Oh and ponzu sauce is cool if you wanted to incorporate that kind of thing.

Wolfgang Puck did a great rib recipe. It's called Spareribs Chinois. (If you use that recipe you MUST do the 1/2 reg soy and 1/2 mushroom soy like the recipe recommends. It adds a totally different dimension with the mushroom soy.) Just google the recipe and you will find it. Very easy and delicious recipe.
post #4 of 12
35, not a big group.....
Fresh fruit....loads of fresh fruit
You know if she wants ribs, beans, slaw, carrot cake so be it. Grass skirts around the table cloth, tiki candles.....

crab rangoon or chicken wontons are popular.....apricot/mustard/soy dip....oh so easy oh so many compliments, to this day it kinda miffs and mystifiys how something that can take all day to make won't get close to as many compliments as that dip sauce.

rice chips (easy to fry up, look like shrimp chips) around some shrimp dip
fried rice sticks as garnish
Rum glazed chicken kabobs with pineapple "tiny bubbles"....just kidding.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #5 of 12
How about a coconut pinapple slaw? I was going to suggest, an Asian slaw as well, or pineapple in the cake? Presentation goes a long way but an Asian style slaw served in a hollow pineapple ot the takeout containers is great.
post #6 of 12


for appetizers that are inexpensive and go with the menu the client requested

try doing a pineapple salsa surrounded by golden and blue corn tortilla chips

no joke - do you know that spam is really popular in Hawaii?
not sure if I would ever serve that but it's kinda funny

a soba noodle salad would be a good addition too.

try not to make everything too exotic - they may be more of the plain jane eaters - but you can give the food a tropical look.

any thoughts from the client - have you presented any of these ideas to her yet?

let us know
Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Tiger, Zebra, shroom, and cheri,

Thanks to you all for your great ideas! I've printed them out and have been sifting through them. The client and her guests are more on the plain side, but I'm sure we can liven things up somewhat with some of your suggestions! Whoever said right in the beginning that it's more about the decor than the food was right. Right at the moment, we've got ribs, pulled pork, chicken with some sort of fruity salsa, a pasta salad done with soba and an Asian slaw. We're not finished with the menu yet, though.

I've used the monstera leaves before, but they're about $8 each up here. I'm going to look for the artificial ones at Michael's. Grass skirt table skirting is a perfect idea and I'll pick upa couple of yards of Hawaiian print fabric as well.

I'm much more into the food and usually leave the decor to the host. I don't have a big enough staff nor enough time to be able to decorate, but I really wish I did. I should just bite the bullet and start incorporating some into my cost and pay someone else to do more of the cooking.

I knew about the spam thing and even had a good laugh over it with the hostess. I suggested (tongue in cheek, mind you) Spam and pineapple skewers, grilled spam with mango salsa, spam spread on crackers. My DD is a ski patroller and they have Spam Fest every year at the end of the season. They dress in Hawaiian shirts and make Spam Everything! DD has been a vegetarian for years and only recently started eating chicken. Needless to say, she's not to fond of Spam Fest. Picture ski patrollers towing sleds with injured people in them down the snowy mountain with colorful shirts flapping in the breeze... They're a strange bunch:crazy:

Thanks again. I'll keep you posted. The party is at the end of July.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
I was in a party store today and found a raffia table skirt for under $20, so I bought it. They also had plastic palm leaf serving dishes of which I bought 3- thought they might be cute with fruit on them, and leis that I plan to place under glass risers that I saw on the catertocater site. (THanks for recommending that place! It's great!!) They also had tiny paper umbrellas that I resisted buying until I could find something clever to do with them. I thought about using them as cocktail picks. Is that too contrived? Any ideas?
post #9 of 12
My favorite appetizer ever, I had in Hawaii. A big chunk of Ahi tuna marinated in some kind of tamari sauce with sesame oil and ginger and a touch of sugar. Seared on the outside and raw in the middle, sliced thinly. YUM
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Sounds delicious! That might be a good upscale option for an app.
post #11 of 12
Have you fleshed out the menu any further? aps, more veg, desserts?

Coconut meragines
recently made coconut cream (pastry cream with coconut) tarts with charred pineapple on top.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm working on it as we speak. Naturally, I've left my notes at the shop and since it's father's day, I really should be making breaKfast for the father of my children and not taking off to go to work. I'll let you know, but those tarts sound pretty wonderful.
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