Balance in a Bowl | Go Hawaii
Balance in a Bowl

Balance in a Bowl

Scroll to Continue

Balance in a Bowl Video

Balance in a Bowl Video
Brandon Baptiste uses his culinary training to put a new spin on shave ice at Wailua Shave Ice on the island of Kauai.

Brandon Baptiste

Wailua Shave Ice Co-Owner
The subway rumbles under Columbus Circle in New York City. Inside the towering Time Warner Center is Per Se by Chef Thomas Keller, one of the best restaurants in New York. This is where Brandon Baptiste cut his teeth, working tirelessly 12-16 hours a day, perfecting his culinary skills, and learning from the very best, to be the very best.

Today, Brandon Baptiste is back home in Kapaa, Kauai. He opens up the Winnebago window of Wailua Shave Ice to start the business day. This spot, under the warm sun and bright blue skies of eastern Kauai, is about as far away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan as it gets. But Baptiste moved home for a reason. He ended his pursuit of super-chef stardom to take care of his family in Kauai – and he hasn’t looked back since.

Now Baptiste applies the skills and attention to detail he learned as a chef to shave ice – the local version of a snow cone. With fresh, natural flavors and innovative, elevated recipes, he’s reinvented what shave ice can be – and the world has taken notice. Lines form early here in Kapaa because people are passionate about his shave ice. Baptiste has even expanded, opening successful Wailua Shave Ice shops in San Diego and Portland. Not bad for a local boy whose path to success was both unexpected and inevitable.

“Just being home, it reminds you of the important things in life.”


What was it like growing up on Kauai?

I grew up in Kapaa, where our shave ice stand is. Our logo is the “Sleeping Giant,” the mountain range right behind our house. It's a very small town, low key, very connected, very loving, a very nurturing place, where people take care of each other. And everybody's just down to help each other. 


What were some of your early memories of eating shave ice?

One of my first memories is of Hawaiian Blizzard, Uncle Aaron’s shop. Uncle Aaron was the shave ice guy growing up and he was just always this super nice guy that you always went to. He’d tell you to pick some colors. I was pretty boring – blue and yellow. You’d get your shave ice, you'd sit with your family and your friends, and just have a good time. Food memory is probably one of the strongest memories in the brain and we just want to be a part of people's lives that way, something that will last with them for the rest their lives.

“Hawaii is an amazing place. And all it is, is this combination of all these different cultures that came together and out of necessity, had to assimilate.”


Where did shave ice originate from?

Shave ice comes from the plantations. All Hawaii food is like a melding of cultures. On the weekends, on Sunday, on their church day, they would get together and shave a big block of ice and pour fruit juice over it, taking ideas from the countries they came from, and just use whatever they had. They had fruit juice. They had sweetened condensed milk. They had mochi. So, all these things that we see as Hawaii shave ice is just a reiteration of what they were doing back then. And we're trying to, in some ways, bring it back to that.  


What makes your shave ice different?

Well, when they first started making shave ice, everything was fresh fruits. Everything was made that way, because it's what they had. And now, we try to do that. Get away from the syrups. Get away from the high fructose, the food colorings. On Kauai, we have some of the best produce, some of the best ingredients that I've seen. We wouldn't get the same pineapples even in Per Se in New York. Our mangoes are still better, our guava is still better, our quality is still better. So we take that and celebrate those things. Take the heart of what it was and bring it forward again.


What makes shave ice unique to Hawai‘i or uniquely local?

Hawaii is an amazing place. And all it is, is this combination of all these different cultures that came together and out of necessity, had to assimilate. All the amazing things they had in their culture, they brought it together and mashed it together with these other cultures… Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese... and we come up with things that are only unique to Hawaii. Things that you don't find in even their original countries because they've had to meld together. And that's quintessentially, what Hawaii is. I mean, America is the melting pot, but I definitely think Hawaii is even more so that personification of diversity.  

 

Browse Hawaii Adventures

Filter Results
showing 1 - 10 of 1487
Submerging
Oahu
Atlantis Submarines
Beachfront Ticket Office
Hilton Hawaiian Village 2005 Kalia Road
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Atlantis Submarines offers a one-of-a-kind underwater experience off the shorelines of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island, giving guests a close-up view of an array of marine life, exotic tropical reefs and numerous sunken vessels.

Websites
molokini redline
Maui
Redline Rafting
2800 South Kihei Rd.
Kihei, HI 96753
Summary

Explore a forbidden coastline formed by Mt. Haleakala's last eruption. Experience close encounters with protected green sea turtles, race across the waves searching for dolphins, and snorkel the crystal waters of the world-famous Molokini Crater.

Websites
Maui Ocean Center Tunnel
Maui
Maui Ocean Center
192 Ma'alaea Rd
Hwy 30, Ma'alaea Harbor
Wailuku, HI 96793
Summary

Come face-to-face with sharks, stingrays, turtles, and thousands of vibrant tropical fish at Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii! Discover one of the world’s largest displays of live Pacific corals and encounter Hawaii’s marine life, many of which are found nowhere else in the world!

Websites
It's no wonder Jurassic Park and Lost were filmed at Manoa Falls
Oahu
Nature and You
307 Lewers Street Suite 401
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Join And You Creations on our Nature and You tour! Experienced guides will lead you through the Manoa Valley Rainforest to a breathtaking 150-foot waterfall. Our tour includes transportation from Waikiki and a delicious and healthy lunch. The trail is suitable for all ages and experience levels.

Websites
Hawaiian Paddle Sports Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Maui
Hawaiian Paddle Sports
Summary

Hawaiian Paddle Sports offers authentic, sustainable eco-tours that empower guests to discover a deeper appreciation of and connection to Hawaii’s marine environment. Guests can choose from private kayak, outrigger canoe, canoe surfing, whale watch, and snorkel tours, or take SUP or surf lessons.

Websites
Oahu - Magnum Landing
Oahu
Paradise Helicopters
73-341 U'u St
Kailua-Kona, HI 96745
Summary

If you can dream it, we can do it. Paradise Helicopters offers you the opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime while here in the islands. See volcanoes, waterfalls & more on our helicopter tours, exclusive landings and custom charters departing from Kona, Hilo and Turtle Bay Resort.

Websites
Spy Hop Humpback
Hawaii
Body Glove Cruises
75-5629 Kuakini Hwy Suite D
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Daily Deluxe Snorkel & Dolphin Watch guarantees dolphin sightings or come again FREE! Captain Cook Sunset Dinner Cruise to Kealakekua Bay and a Seasonal Whale Watch! Beautiful 65' luxury catamaran with plenty of shade, cushioned seating, a premium cash bar, and is 100% wheel chair accessible.

Websites

Pages