A NEW STAR JOINED the already bright roster of culinary powerhouses at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on Maui’s northwest shore. Chef Isabelle “Bella” Toland joined the resort this spring when its reimagined signature restaurant, The Banyan Tree, reopened.
Toland’s esteemed reputation in the industry preceded her recent appointment; she joins the Hawai’ian luxury property from Travaasa Hana, where she directed food and beverage efforts since 2016. Prior to that, she worked for Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, including as sous chef at Spago at Four Seasons Resort Maui, where she immersed herself in traditional Hawai’ian cuisine and culture.
After delighting their taste buds at The Banyan Tree, guests at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua can also enjoy newly reimagined guestrooms, new décor, an indulgent spa, five other dining experiences, meeting space, luxury cabanas, Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program and much more.
WHICH DESTINATIONS INSPIRED YOU, AND HOW HAS THAT INSPIRATION TRANSLATED INTO YOUR CULINARY CONCEPTS? Growing up with a French dad and a Fil- Spanish mother, food has always been part of loving. It’s a culture as opposed to a choice. I spent most of my teenage years in Manila, spending summers in California and Hawai’i. My parents have always been travelers and so have I. So I guess I am a world nomad with many cultures involved in my cooking and lifestyle. Asian flavors and French techniques have always been present in my menus and cooking. It’s always evolving as well. My most recent travels to Nepal expanded my spice cabinet, and Marseilles has me using more fennel lately.
WHOM DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR CULINARY HERO? Anthony Bourdain always intrigued me. I loved his authenticity and lack of “caring what others think” mentality. His travels and need to explore and try things others wouldn’t are things I push for myself.
WHAT ONE PERSON MOST INFLUENCED YOUR COOKING STYLE? My mom — she left Manila at 18 years old and moved to New York City, where she met my dad. Then they lived in Bordeaux and moved to the Philippines and later California. She’s a wacky one, and always pushes to be different. That goes for her cooking; I grew up eating classic French food to which she always added her twist.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD CITY? Paris. I can have all types of cuisine and all types done properly. The French have food and wine in their culture. You don’t have to be a chef to know good food techniques and wine knowledge.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEXT BIG TREND ON THE FOOD SCENE WILL BE? Family style — more and more we see restaurants moving away from the classical three-course meal. The hardest thing about going out is wanting to eat everything but not physically being able to order 10 menu items. That’s why tasting menus have taken off. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a $300-plus meal, so why not share everything and taste more?
At The Banyan Tree, this is something we push for. We want guests to be able to take a bit of the first dish, then go back and compare it to the third, fourth or fifth. We want everyone to eat together, talk about the food and pass the dishes down the table as you would at home or at a dinner party.
THE BANYAN TREE
The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
1 Ritz-Carlton Drive
Kapalua, HI 96761
tel 808 669 6200
Navajo Nation is an area of land in the southwestern United States. Covering about 27,000 square miles, the region in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah currently makes up the largest area of land retained by a tribe within the United States. Home to the Navajo people, the area boasts monuments, parks, markets, trails and historic sites.
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