In This Episode
- About Angel [0:15]
- About The Mill House [2:30]
- Sustainability and honor at The Mill House [5:00]
- Etiquette in Hawaii [8:00]
- Experiencing the Maui Tropical Plantation [14:00]
- Creating jobs and homes for Maui [18:00]
- The future of The Maui Tropical Plantation [26:00]
- The owner’s vision of The Mill House [29:00]
- The Mill House
- Hawaii Tour Guide App – Shaka Guide
- Hawaii’s Best Instagram
- Hawaii’s Best Podcast
- Bumper music, Ukulele and Chill, provided by Coby G
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Angel: And I’m like, we give a lot, you know, and he’s just like Angel the more you give, the less you need recognition for. And that really hit my heart because I’m like thing, that’s exactly who we are.
[expand title=”Click Here To Read The Full Transcript”]
Aloha, welcome to Hawaii’s best podcast. Learn the stories behind Hawaii’s best experiences, influencers and businesses. Discover everything that makes Hawaii the Aloha state. And now your host Bryan Murphy.
Bryan: Aloha and welcome to Hawaii’s best, where we explore Hawaii’s best experience business has an influencer and hear the story from the people behind them. I’m your host Bryan Murphy and thank you so much for joining me today. To stay up to date on future episodes, hit that subscribe button and while you’re there drop a rating and a review. Totally appreciate that because that this helps other people find this podcast and this conversation about Hawaii. This episode is brought to you by Shaka guide, Shaka guide is a GPS guide right on your smartphone. And what I love about this guide is on a recent trip to Maui, we use this guide to get us around the West side of Maui. We were able to explore places that we’ve never have experienced before. It’s a great guide that guides you through all the different islands because there are many different guides and tours to explore and all the islands. And what I love about it is, it is a turn by turn directional GPS app, but it also gives history along the way. So, there is different way points as we’re driving through Lahaina and Kaanapali coast. There was this so many different locations and waypoints points I didn’t realize were so historic on the Island of Maui and that was just one of the tours that we got to explore. So, I am talking with the founder of Shaka guide Andrew, he was on a recent episode. He’s given our Hawaii best listeners a free guide. If you go to www.livehawaiisbest.com/shaka, you’ll be able to download the app right there. And while I was on Maui recently with Allie, my wife, I sat down with angel Dunn Mau from Maui tropical plantation, which is home to the beautiful Mill House located in central Maui. Angel and I talked a lot about the history of the Mill House and the history of this surrounding area of Maui tropical plantation and we also talk about what’s next from the Mill House in Maui tropical. In our conversation together you’ll learn more about what Aloha is and what it looks like in action, especially on Maui and through Angel’s perspective you’re going to get a great understanding of what it means to live with Aloha every single day. My time with Angel was so much fun and I can’t wait to go back. We talked for a long time and this is just a portion of our conversation together. We had tons of time off air that just didn’t make it into this episode, but what we did capture is incredible and I hope that you enjoy listening to the history of the Mill House and Maui tropical plantation as we talk story with angel.
Bryan: Angel, thank you so much for hanging out with us today on Hawaii’s best and you’re a part of the Maui tropical plantation who is home of the Mill House, the infamous Mill House. How are you doing?
Angel: Yes, yes, I am doing well. Aloha, thank you for having me.
Bryan: Absolutely. This is going to be fun. Tell me a little bit about yourself and what your role is here at the Mill House.
Angel: My name is Angel Dunn Mau and I first of all want to say a happy anniversary to you and your sweetheart. Allie is sweetheart, thank you for introducing me to her and congratulations. So, I am born and raised here on the Island of Maui. My roots go very deep. In fact, we trace our genealogy back to the second canoe to Hawaii. Yes, and however, I’m a hopper girl. My mom was a beautiful California girl. She met my dad out in the Ohana jungle and that’s where I’ve been raised. Yes, exactly. So, I lived all over Hawaii and home is where I am and so I am here at Maui tropical plantation. I am their community outreach liaison and I love what I do.
Bryan: Right. So now we tropical plantation, the Mill House has happened to be a part of that.
Angel: Correct. Yes. Maui tropical plantation encompasses the plantation store, kumu farms, multiple zip lines, a roasting company, Maui chef’s table, quite a few amenities around property. However, my absolute favorite and yes, our shining star is the mail house.
Bryan: So, the Mill House has been a part of this area for some time. Maybe tell us a little bit about when it started and how it started. The vision behind it.
Angel: Yes, definitely. The Mill House has been here, like you said, quite some time. However, I remember coming here when I was really young and I’m 28 years old now. So, I remember coming here to feed the ducks on the lagoon, I know all my classmates did as well. But the Mill House was very casual. It was buffet style, very low key. And there weren’t as much as, there wasn’t as much emphasis on sustainability or storytelling, at least not the way we do now. So, it is a huge part of the Mill House is storytelling about Hawaii’s a sugarcane industry, about all of the immigrants that came to Hawaii and has made Maui their home. In fact, we’re sitting on an old plantation camp and right down the road was the original Wailuku sugar mill. So quite a few historic pieces have been saved and repurposed into the Mill House for us to learn more about our history and what’s nice is we’re serving our food mountain side and we are nestled in central Maui in Waikapu Valley, such a special Valley. It’s part of the four main waters, which is Waikapu, white [06:14 inaudible] and the four grade waters. And so, it’s a gathering place for water and the Mill House is the gathering place for families and for local farmers as well as all the culinary creations that honor our multicultural heritage.
Bryan: I love that. Maybe we can spend some time there. Someone’s coming to the mail house for the first time, like me. And obviously you’re taking in this beautiful scenery and it’s amazing. But there’s something that we want our guests to walk away with. What is that more than the memories, but it talked about a little about what you guys want your guests to walk away with. Speaking about the culture.
Angel: Yes. I would say that we are setting the stage to spearhead sustainability as well as honor. Yes. The traditions of all the immigrants that came over at my Tutu man Tutu man was Pakay, he is Chinese. And so, he came over during the sugar plantation days and with this wave of immigrants, they brought all their culinary creations, which our executive chef Taylor honors and quite a few of our dishes. So, I’m saying, okay Bryan, so you’re coming up for the first time. You’re greeted by our lovely hostesses. You see an exquisite sugar room with Edison hanging lights. You see pieces from the original sugar mill. In fact, we have uncles that come in and you know, point at the wall and be like, I used to wear that for my uniform, you know, and like it’s not far off, you know, it’s still in our generation and, and they make that personal connection already and beautiful soft lighting. And then you can go into one of our four dining areas and you see the original sugar cane train that used to transport the people to and from the community to the sugar mill. And we are just looking up into Waikapu Valley and overlooking a lagoon and eating what’s freshest off the farms.
Bryan: I love that Angel. And before Allie and me, and yes, we are celebrating our anniversary or also doing some work too and hanging out with amazing people like you. So, this is great. This isn’t work. This is, this is amazing. This is just connecting with amazing people.
Angel: Yes. And we get to have celebrate your love.
Bryan: I love that. So, we were talking just before our trip over to Maui and really like, okay, this is how many people visit the islands. But there’s something about stamping and passport that you become a little bit more aware of the culture. Say if you have a passport in hand, like okay, you know you’re going to another country, you know you go into another culture. However, that same rings true when you come the Hawaiian Islands. Technically it’s a state of the United States technically, but there’s a huge but there. Now what are some etiquette that you want people to know about Hawaii? That’s a huge, huge question, but what are some like just the quick takeaways. Like someone’s coming to the islands for the first time and there’s a respect there.
Angel: Well said. Well said. Well first of all, We as Kanaka or Kanaka Mauri, or native people of this land we’re raised to love selflessly and love without expecting anything in return. In fact, how Aloha is our greeting, our farewell, and it’s a verb. It’s who we are. And so, every time I love, I love when people visit Hawaii. I love when they choose Maui, [09:43 inaudible]. That means the best. I love when they choose Maui because they see how the culture is still so intact and it’s through the people and it’s through our choices with sustainability, with our resource management, with what we’re doing with our land, with how we are taking on tourists or guests or Molokini as a responsibility. Like you came here with a purpose, you saved up, you are bringing your family, you’re bringing your other half, and you become our responsibility when you step off the plane. And so, it’s our kuleana to Malama everyone that comes here. However, in return, I do believe that for me, how I was raised, Aloha means you leave a place, or a person better than you found them. So, you know, jumping in and asking questions and showing that you care, and you want to know more about, you know, why is Maui different, why are you different? You know, and why is this place different? So, I do believe that’s why I’ve worked here at the Mill House and my tropical plantation is because we exemplify that. I love that. You know, I’m born and raised here. Pamela Shepherd, Henderson, she is our lead director of events team and she’s a Kanaka. And then our executive chef Taylor Poncy [11:05 inaudible] UAH Maui graduate in the culinary Academy, you know, and so it’s nice to have so many Kama’aina who are passionate and refined to show this is what the evolution of Aloha looks like. And I do believe that we are that place to see it.
Bryan: Right. I love that. And you talk about generations to come too right, a little bit about leaving it better than you found it. Like this, it’s no accident that the beauty of Hawaii has sustained for so long is passed on to generations. So, it’s, I think it’s all over. If you enjoy the islands, even if you’re coming for a visit, is all of our responsibilities.
Angel: Agreed. I do believe that we want you to experience Maui in her fullness and to go places and to have set apart experiences you can’t have anywhere else. I mean it’s literally God took a slice of heaven and dropped it in the middle of the Pacific, you know, all the different ecosystems that you can experience and to really, it’s no accident. And then he placed this people here to be the Torchbearers to be the ones who have that responsibility and it looks different on every single Island. And if you care to ask and to seek and knock and find, you will find.
Bryan: We can stay in this conversation all day. Let’s talk more about the Mill House. Amazing food, but also the whole experience here.
Angel: It is. It’s such an experience. I say this, it’s so funny cause when I first walked up the walkway, I didn’t know that the Mill House was here and I’m born and raised and I’m just like, what is this place? I finally heard about it and from walking into the dining room, I said I need to work here. There’s a standard of Aloha that I believe resonates within me. I want to be a part of this. I believe in what they’re doing. So, I actually started off working in the restaurant and enjoyed every bit of it. They train their servers to understand wine pairings. It’s fun because even as a guest you come, you come often you’ll know the servers will know your name and you’ll sit next to the farmers or like, Hey Kupol farms, what are you, what are you up to with a composting plan, you know, and like, what’s your next direction for sustainability or our bartenders. Are you sure this is made from scratch? Did you seriously grind up this macadamia nut with this bourbon, you know, with, you know, with some passion fruit and I’m drinking, you know, a little bit of Christmas, you know, so it’s especially the food is fantastic. I have a few favorites. I love to tell you. Let’s see. The roasted eggplant and I was not an eggplant girl. Now I am. They roast it in a [13:39 inaudible] wood oven. They do a light [13:41 inaudible] on there. So, it’s kind of glazes over and plumps up. I’ve never had bone marrow until I worked here. And it’s piping hot and they herbed up. And you scoop it on a pido with some dip and yeah man. And we actually, I mean our cattle are up on the hillside, you know, and our owner actually brought the cattle. Like there’s so much Aloha that our owners have that just trickles throughout the company. In fact, one of them they take, well actually they take us up into Waikapu Valley, especially new hires because they want them to see this is where the water starts, this is our why, this is our source of life. This is how it feeds our crops. And then from there, you know, the chefs say this is how it ends up on your plate so that the server understands there’s, you know, what goes into the soil is Pono, what comes out is Pono, what you’re putting, what we are putting inside our guests is Pono. And so, we are honored in that. And of course, I got a few other favorites, you know, burger fish sandwich, [14:48 inaudible] risotto, hand had cut pasta. Yeah, oh man. No matter if you’re just coming for a Pauhana or happy hour or your anniversary or a girl’s day or even bring your cakey, they love it and we feel very proud about what we’re serving our guests.
Bryan: Speaking to a little bit more about the experience around the property.
Angel: Yes. Oh yes. So, experiencing Maui tropical plantation, it’s so conveniently located, we’re only like 15 minutes from the airport. So, guests are wanting to make us their first stop and we’re like, okay, we are the Gates of Aloha for Maui. You know, here we go, we’re going to start them off right. And then so many guests actually leave us for their finale as well. And so, we get the blessing to send them off with literally a sweet taste in their mouth of Maui. So, coming here, you know, they can jump on the tropical express tour and that’s, you know, a tram tour that features Hawaii’s famous roots and flowers and seeing what’s in season. And Nope, pineapples grow in the ground. Sorry, they’re not on trees, friends, you know, they get to see how everything grows.
Bryan: What’s crazy about that, I posted on an Instagram account, I just posted like, Hey, here’s a field of pineapples, right. Just like, Oh, it’s beautiful. Right. And like the comments were like 200 comments. I didn’t know pineapples grew like that.
Angel: It’s so funny. Yes, it’s true. And they take over a year to mature. And so, people don’t realize, man, these are a little, you know, candy, field candies that are so special. And so, they see everything from coffee, they see it, and then we invite them to taste it at the Mill House. You can zip around the property on zip lines. You can go ridge to ridge to Ridge on a separate zip lined flying Hawaiian. One of my favorites is Maui chef’s table. Okay. At Maui chef’s table, this happens every week. It’s an interactive dining experience. It’s elevated, it’s communal seating and a private open-air venue where our creative chefs get to showcase their talent in front of you. And then they invite you up to ask questions, take pictures, talk story. Like they, they express every technique. And this is for the foodie that once that memorable evening on Maui. So, and it’s what’s coming in fresh. So, we can’t tell you what’s on the menu until the day of. And so, you got to be open for the adventure.
Bryan: I would assume at the chef’s table, you get to hear more about the property and how everything has grown. And what are some ways that you’re doing that maybe you don’t get to experience a chef’s table. Now, all this behind the scenes stuff that has happened in that is so important to this all connected. But if you’re just coming to grab a burger, what are some ways that people can take in that history?
Angel: That’s such a good question. I’ve been in food and beverage for 10 years, and being able to answer such as, you know, a light question like, hey, you know, where’s this beef from? Or, Hey, you know, this eggplant, or what is the sugar cane and my Canaan green, like, this is delicious. Asking the server isn’t that awesome that the servers, they understand the responsibility to the guest and to their position that they get to share. Okay. So, this sugarcane was grown on property. In fact, Dane Doster and Ryan, he’s, they’re leading our sustainability program. They initiated a composting program. Look at these straws. They’re literally, Hey, you know, and it’s so cool because our lead server is actually the one driving the tractor through the fields to maintain their sustainability projects. So multifaceted, but we’re all so talented and I’m so thankful because for the vision of Maui tropical plantation and the Mill House is creating jobs and creating homes for Maui. And so right next to us in this office next to us, there’s Brittany, she’s the controller. She’s overlooked overseeing multimillion-dollar property, you know, and she started off at the scoop, the ice cream shop right over there. Now she’s controlling everything. Myself, I started as a busser and now I get to go out into the community. I get to bring gifts, I get to present business partnerships to companies who keep that standard that we have as well as well as, you know, again, like Jamie. Jamie, she started off as a barista, just deer in the headlights, our lead server and definitely executive chef Taylor Ponti. We’re just so proud of him being a Maui boy with vision and being on you know, bringing something so different than anyone else does. So, starting in one area, but Maui tropical plantation, the Mill House gives you the platform to expand and grow and see your vision come to flourishing.
Bryan: Angel what we’re talking about really here is leadership and you are talking about how your servers know, this the journey of the food and how it was prepared. And that takes vision. That takes ownership. I mean that’s leadership right there. And just talking a little bit about how some of you guys here have worked your way up and have been a part of this family for so long. That’s amazing. And I think with leadership, there’s vision, right? And you’re thinking, you are always forward thinking, okay, what’s next? What’s next? But always taking gratitude in the moment as well and appreciating the moment. But you’re always, there’s always that little nagging, okay, what’s coming up next?
Angel: But it’s bigger. And it’s bigger.
Bryan: Its always bigger.
Angel: There’s no ceiling. Yes, I agree. I agree. And it starts with our owners. It starts with our owners. It was their vision. And there are people that were just waiting for the right. There’s us, you know, waiting for the right leadership to come along. Mike and Albert, they’ve been our owners for a few years now. And then Francesco, our general manager came into the picture and he just pumped up the volume. Man, that Italian man has more aloha than me on some days. But anyhow, they are our leaders, but they allow us to grow into those positions of leadership. And so yes, like we were saying, the servers, knowing where the food comes from, understanding wines, all the educational classes that they prepare us with to really elevate the Senate of service makes us leaders in our own regard. But like we were saying, the direction and the bigger vision of this company is how we are starting off here. We’ll be faithful with this and then it means that we’re going to be given more to be faithful with. So, there’s, you know, a beautiful community that we have to look forward to being built around us. And that’s why they called this restaurant house. That’s why houses in the name, because it’s the gathering house. It’s the Mill House. It’s intentional. Exactly. And that’s where we’re going. A Community, we’re supporting Maui and we’re supporting local farmers. One of my favorite parts about the restaurant is that chef Taylor and you know, our other amazing creative chefs, they’re going out into the community and they’re like, what do you grow? Hey, you know what, if you’re going this and this is the time to grow it, we’re going to figure out a way to utilize it. And these dishes, they’re using canoe crops, crops that came from, you know, during the first navigational travel here. So, they’re able to use native plants and you know, and our canoe crops. But we’ve watched farmers start with one acre and as we’ve grown, their demand has grown. And so now their farms expanded into acres and acres and acres. And so, we’re able to pour in, invest in the community, into the economy, and just keep it alive and growing. And so, we’re always inviting our guests to discover and celebrate Maui’s agricultural bounty. This is where.
Bryan: It’s beautiful. The moment that Allie and I stepped on property, you could feel it. You could just feel that Aloha and you just felt like at home.
Bryan: Yes. That’s what we want. That’s what we want for our guests. And you know, there’s [23:15 inaudible], there’s Molokini but it’s reflected everywhere. So, we want people to leave better than we found them. And I do believe we make that happen every single day. And so, if you’re Kama’aina, just keep coming back my friends, cause we’re investing in you and we love our community and we give, and we give selflessly. I do see that.
Bryan: Love that. That selfless giving. And it’s amazing how when you’re in the small things, how you see the blessing of more, but sometimes it could be, maybe it’s not tangibly more, but it’s more Aloha. It’s more love. Sometimes it’s more gratitude. Sometimes that’s the way, you know, how come this isn’t going as fast as we want it to go in our time. Exactly. Right. And you have to be, you have to submit to the timing and keep at it as well and keep knowing that what you’re doing is the right thing. Showing selfless love, no matter what.
Angel: And something Francesco actually had to teach me personally he’s saying how I was going through a learning lesson in my position as an Aloha ambassador. And I’m like, we give a lot, you know, and he’s just like angel, the more you give, the less you need recognition for. And that really hit my heart because I’m like, bang, that’s exactly who we are.
Bryan: Because the moment you give out of expecting out of obligation.
Angel: It defeats the blessing. Yeah, it defeats the blessing. And so, this is this special place and we have lots of visitors, we have lots of Kama’aina that come, and we need all of them and we Aloha all of them each differently. Yeah, take them as they are and feed them.
Bryan: Well angel, thank you so much for your time. Is there anything else that you would love for us to know more about the Mill House and this beautiful property?
Angel: You are welcome to celebrate and again, discover Molly’s agricultural bounty. Let us be the ones to welcome you first and send you off with a fond of [25:29 inaudible], which doesn’t mean goodbye. Just farewell for now until we meet again.
Bryan: That’s it. Well, how can we find you guys and more about the Mill House
Angel: Yes. Of course, on Instagram and all our social media platforms. Www.mauitropicalplantation.com, www.millhousemaui.com, jump into chef’s table. You know, just have fun discovering while you’re across the Pacific, you know, and come visit us soon.
Bryan: Absolutely. Thank you so much.
Angel: Thank you so much Bryan. Mahalo.
Bryan: Aloha. Well, I just wanted to thank angel again and the Mill House for their hospitality and for showing Allie and I a great time. But more than that, I hope that you enjoyed this conversation and I hope you got a little bit more understanding of what life is like in Maui and specifically central Maui where Maui tropical plantation is. To find more info about the Mill House. Go to our show notes, www.livehawaiisbest.com/episode019 and you’ll find all the links that we mentioned here, and you’ll also be able to find out more about the Mill House. Well, until next time, guys, be well Aloha.
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