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Peter Merriman’s New Pacific Horizons

Anna Kim
Ward Village

Peter Merriman is one of the founding Hawai?i Regional Cuisine chefs. These days he’s busy with new projects — and new horizons.

Chef Peter Merriman first came to Hawai?i in 1983 and soon became the executive chef of the of the Gallery restaurant at the Mauna Lani resort. By 1988, he branched out on his own and since then has opened eponymous Merriman’s restaurants on four islands. In 1991, he was one of the 12 chefs who, along with promoter Shep Gordon, founded the Hawai?i Regional Cuisine movement.

These chefs took pains to help grow local agriculture by bringing Hawai?i’s multicultural food influences into their high-end menus, sourced with local ingredients.

That would be a satisfying career even without a chapter two. But Merriman has actually accelerated his business.

In 2011, he and Bill Terry launched Handcrafted Restaurants, which has since opened three Monkeypod Kitchen restaurants and Moku Kitchen at SALT in Kaka?ako. About 400 people are employed in Merriman’s restaurants, another 800 in the Handcrafted restaurants.

Merriman and Terry are now looking beyond Hawai?i for further expansion, to California and even overseas.

To make this happen, they’re being as careful about real estate as they are about what is served in the restaurants. While they’d love a waterfront location in Waik?k?, says Terry, they “will wait 10 years” if they have to for the perfect location.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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