by Liza Simon
photo by G. Brad Lewis
Every Sunday morning,
Les Hershhorn and Betty Chin
low-key Volcano Village hosts a rich farmer’s market teeming with the bounty of the Big Island’s east side. And every Sunday, fans drive from as far away as Kona to taste the goodies dished out at the market by the husband-and-wife team of Les Hershhorn and Betty Chin, two people whose cooking talents reflect a lifelong cultivation of the art of food. Les grew up on an egg farm in Long Island. Betty helped out in her family’s Chinese restaurant in Ohio as a kid. Today the duo live deep in the Big Island rain forest on Fire Mountain Farm, growing lemons, limes, pineapples and coffee on their five acres and creating, in their fully certified commercial kitchen, an international menu of gourmet dishes.
Before settling on Hawaii as the new home for their epicurean evolution, the two spent their professional days amassing formal culinary training and running restaurants in several states, and their expertise in the kitchen is quickly evident: In no time, Les can whip up his special Moroccan chicken tangine, or smoked salmon with roasted garlic in saffron fennel cream, or roasted pork tenderloin with lilikoi-guava glaze. Pastry chef Betty concocts savory wild mushroom pies, chocolate amaretto cake, even homemade bagels and challah. Les has also gone back to his early years and today keeps dozens of chickens on the farm, feeding them a whole-grain diet and allowing them to lay at their leisure in the farm’s peaceful confines. The popular eggs, on sale at the farm as well as in Hilo health food stores, are among the many products that are winning the duo a following.
Both agree that the rain forest is the perfect place for taste buds to embrace the unexpected. "In the rain forest, you already have the elements that are constantly creating new growth," Les notes. "All you have to do is take what the elements give you—all the great freshness—and make sure it’s in the food."
Fire Mountain Farm and Kitchen