Tasting Oahu is the bridge for foodies and amazing food experiences through our food tours. By doing so we are able to create an unforgettable experience that supports our movement towards food sustainability. Just like our sister companies Tasting Kauai and Tasting Maui, our mission is to push the needle towards food sustainability on Oahu by going on a culinary romp through paradise.
Meet the Manager
Your guide, Katherine, has lived in six countries in Central and South America, from Costa Rica to Chile. She worked as a teacher, a research assistant, on a permaculture or “food-forest” farm, and in hospitality. She also worked on a farm on an island in Panama for a gentleman who had his first large project in Hawaii.
On these travels, she met her husband, Roel, who is from the Netherlands and is a phenomenal cook. He attended culinary school outside of Amsterdam and has been working as a chef for more than thirteen years. After so much time spent in the heart of Latin communities, they relocated to Miami, where Katherine was first was hired as a culinary guide. With a base of knowledge of Latino cuisines and a necessary fluency in Spanish, she started giving tours all over the city. She also worked as a foodie guide in Charleston, SC — considered the best city for historically based traditional Southern home cooking.
The Story of Our Founders
Sometimes, when I travel to exotic locations, I feel like I have the word “tourist” tattooed on my forehead. So when people feel taken advantage of because of high prices, I understand. It’s expensive to vacation in Hawaii. It’s also expensive to live here. I try to mediate this by creating win/win/win experiences where guests feel like they’re part of the community, restaurants and farmers see repeat business, and we get to contribute, in our small way, to making American business ethical again.
My romance with food started in my mother’s home, where we ate three homemade meals at the table, every day. I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen when she was cooking, so her example taught me that it’s important to nourish myself. Mom, a former flamenco dancer who was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, is a housewife who enjoys her duties. Every Saturday morning, she’d turn up Trini Lopez and clean her two-story home to his album “Corazon de Melon.” One Fourth of July, my parents were replacing the upstairs carpet and the wood floors were exposed. She raised her arms over her head, clacked the castanets, stomped her feet and danced the pasodoble.
When it came to food, mom left her culture in Spain. Mom’s mother died of stomach cancer when she was six years old, right when the Spanish Civil War started. My father is a meat-and-potatoes guy from Oklahoma, so mom taught herself how to prepare American food and usually served us roasted meat, mashed potatoes, and a colorful vegetable. It was during summers in Spain where I learned how to cook and saw food as a vehicle for rich relationships and vivid experiences.
Uncle Manuel took my brother and I to harvest mussels that clung to a rocky cliffside, which my aunt Anita used in her paella later that day. After a rain, mom and I walked the fields in front of my uncle’s beach house, collecting snails feasting on wild fennel. Even though I couldn’t speak Spanish, I’d help my aunt cook in a kitchen no bigger than a walk-in closet.
I’d follow her through the open-air market in El Vendrell, and watch her select fish brought in from the ocean that morning and still breathing, as well as pale pink langoustines and clams that peek from their shells. She’d buy fresh chicken, fed on so much corn its skin was bright yellow.
In the carport at their beach house, Anita would remove a four-foot paella pan that was tucked between rows of five-gallon oak barrels that my uncle filled with red wine at a bodega in Barcelona. When the food is ready, ten of us, both family and friends, sit around a table leaden with paella, gold plums from the garden, chunks of Spanish blue cheese called Cabrales, Spanish chorizo, fresh anchovies in vinaigrette with thyme and shallots, olives stuffed with clams, a large plate of crisp lettuce and wedges of green tomatoes, and slices of pa amb tomàquet—a Catalan dish of split baguettes rubbed with ripe tomatoes.
Daniel and I honeymooned in Spain and, afterward, subscribed to a CSA. Community Supported Agriculture requires members to invest in the farm. That way, the farmer knows how much to grow and how many people to hire. In return, members get weekly boxes of produce that is so fresh, dirt still clings to roots. Since I was disenfranchised with my corporate job, I filled weekends with food and wine tours of Colorado’s Western Slope, took cooking classes, watched the Food Network, read cookbooks before bed, and became a certified personal chef.
After celebrating our 10 year anniversary on Kauai in 2009, we sold everything, paid off our debt, and moved. With no job or friends, we promised each other that this new life would be created by looking for open doors and going through them, and doing things based on how they felt, not how much money we made.
I fell in love with writing after starting a blog to keep family and friends updated throughout our adventure. While signing up for a CSA, the farmer, a young woman in long pigtails wearing short overalls and a blond boy on her hip, took me around the farm. I wrote a check for a six month CSA membership, signed up for a 12-week organic farming course, then graduated as their CSA manager. A few weeks later, I emailed a letter of introduction to the weekly paper.
My cell phone rang one sunny morning, while the birds chirped outside my window and palm trees rustled on the breeze. The editor of the paper asked if I wanted to write two restaurant articles a month. I calmly said yes while jumping up and down. I needed a photographer and Daniel, my knight in shining armor, who has a background in fine art, was happy to fill that need.
Two columns a month turned into two columns every week, one on food and one on farmers, and lasted three years. In 2013, my columns were transferred to the daily paper where the new editor wanted me to write about advertisers. I quit because, until then I chose who I wrote about and focused on people who made good food from scratch and used local ingredients whenever possible.
I believe my dream blooms because of transparency and connection. Restaurants do not pay for listings in our guidebook and app. The tours, which accommodate 14 people, are an intimate bridge between innovative farmers, creative chefs, and adventurous eaters. Our caravan approach feels like a scavenger hunt, which elicits adventure and evokes old-world charm. Immersed in the beauty and abundance of Oahu, intimate connections between visitors and residents blossom over good food.
After interviewing hundreds of farmers and chefs, I was inspired by the passion and integrity that infuse their work. I wanted other people to experience that so we started offering food tours in 2012. About 90 percent of the state’s food is imported and we hope our work fosters food security on Oahu. Promoting restaurants that buy from local farmers increases the demand for locally-grown food and fosters new farms.
I believe we need food for more than survival. From births to funerals and everything in-between, food nourishes our relationships and enriches our experiences. In this spirit, I see that everything in our lives lead us to Kauai, where our livelihood is built on a passion for tasty food, connection and supporting local agriculture.
Mahalo for your time and we hope you join us on a culinary romp through paradise!
Marta & Daniel Lane
Owners of Tasting Oahu