ALOHA! We are The Maui Vegetarian. We are pleased to present to you our collection of cookbooks- The Maui Vegetarian-Cooking with Aloha, The Maui Vegetarian-Hana Hou, and Easy Gourmet for Gluten Free Vegans. Armed with these useful tools, we are able to bring to many our style of healthful vegan cooking, making the endless task of cooking enjoyable and delicious. We also offer health and kitchen products to help make your lifestyle easier. It has been our express purpose since 2001 to educate others in the areas of healthful food preparation and health & healing education. Please browse through our site, we hope you enjoy it, and feel free to contact us. We want to be your informational resource to help you live a happy and healthy life!
In photograph from left: Chef Brian Igarta, daughter Skye, Crystal, son Justin
Brian Igarta was born and raised in the Hawaiian Islands, affording him the opportunity to become familiar with the unique array of flavors and styles of cooking indigenous to Hawaii by virtue of its unique blend of cultures. Upon completing high school, Brian enrolled in the Culinary Academy at Maui Community College – a highly recognized program with strong ties to the hospitality industry. Together with the unique characteristics of the Hawaiian culture, it helped to launch Brian on his career as a chef with a vital message about proper diet and good health.
Brian’s unique flair for preparing enticing and healthy cuisine was strongly influenced by the wide variety of foods and cooking styles found in the islands. After all, Hawaii is a melting pot. Beginning with the first Chinese immigrants that settled on the islands to work the sugar plantations, Filipinos, Japanese, Portuguese and many other nationalities followed, adding their own cultures and associated styles of cooking to those already established by the native Hawaiians and European missionaries. Eventually this cultural mélange evolved into its own special class of cooking known as Pacific Rim Cuisine.
Early in his career, Brian specialized in Asian and French cuisine, working in a variety of food establishments. However, being a “local boy” at heart, and driven by his own diverse ethnicity that includes Chinese, Hawaiian, Filipino, Portuguese, and Puerto Rican ancestry, he broadened his horizons and began preparing a wide variety of food with his own unique approach. This diversification was further bolstered by his visits to Europe and South America, where he was able to pick up a few secrets from the kitchens he frequented there.
The real challenge for Brian came when he adopted a lifestyle of total vegetarianism. He had previously been an ovo-lacto vegetarian subsisting mainly on potato chips, beer and pasta for ten years until he met his wife, Crystal. At the time, she had no knowledge of vegetarianism. Influenced by the health message found in the Bible, she made the transition to total vegetarianism in about three months. During this transition, she and Brian studied the concept of health reform and the benefits of eating not only a meat-free diet, but a proper diet that consisted of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts and seeds. What they learned opened their eyes and propelled Brian into a whole new way of cooking and eating for better health. The message was quite clear – the foods we eat plays a direct and profound role in preventing and even curing disease. It is the foundation for one’s total health – body, mind, and soul. Thus, with more than 19 years of culinary experience, Brian was able to masterfully utilize his artistic genius to create healthy mouth-watering dishes. Seeking to dispel the popular myth that healthy food is tasteless, bland, and boring, he created a cookbook to show that eating healthful foods can be exciting and appealing. The recognition and popularity that the book has garnered proves that is is possible to eat right and be satisfied. In May of 2010, he released his second book- The Maui Vegetarian Hana Hou, along with Crystal’s first release- Easy Gourmet for Gluten Free Vegans. Together, Brian and Crystal enjoy presenting cooking classes and demonstrations, appearing at health fairs and venues in different locations, and utilizing various opportunities to spread this wonderful message of health through the artful preparation of foods as nature designed them.
The Hawaiian word “aloha” is an expression of love – and that is exactly what this talented vegan chef and his wife puts into their unique and healthy dishes. Be in good health!