‘Ono* NOSHes Served Daily
Our (Hawaiian) Chicago Hub Manager shares what the Aloha Spirit means and how everyone can bring a bit more of it to their Shabbat table.
When you get off the plane at Honolulu International Airport, a warm breeze with a sweet Hawaiian smell hits you when you step onto the jetway. It’s like Hawaii is slapping you with a huge hug and it’s the best feeling in the whole world.
Once you’ve made it out of baggage claim, another gust of something hits you but this time, it’s more of a mentality. The Aloha Spirit is an intangible happiness that runs through the state. Here’s what Aloha Spirit means, according to Hawaii State Law [§5-7.5] (not kidding);
“It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii. “Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. “Aloha” means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. “Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. . . .”
When I think of the Shabbat ShALOHA NOSH:pitality, a partnership between OneTable and Aloha Poke Co., I can’t help but think that it was more than just fresh poke and mingling – it was a blend of the beauty that is the Jewish community’s warmth and the Aloha spirit.
Guests walked into WeWork in downtown Chicago and had a tough choice to make: wine or Kona Brewing Co. IPAs that were stocked and chilled. Soon after that, we all gathered to “PYOB” or “Pack Your Own Bowl” as we worked our way down the Aloha Poke Co. buffet line. NOSHers didn’t have to worry about picking between marinated or “naked” ahi poke… they just scooped up both. The room fell pretty quiet once everyone had their own poke bowl – it’s hard to talk when you’re inhaling the freshest food option in Chicago.
Then, the main event. Zach Friedlander, owner and co-creator of Aloha Poke Co. shared with us some insight on bringing this craze to Chicago and what hospitality has meant to him. Aloha Poke Co. has lead others to “appease their inner fat kid,” or, indulge in fresh food options that are good for the soul. Covering everything from ecologically sound sourcing to maintaining a strategic brand voice while expanding rapidly, our audience was captivated and fully nourished with Aloha Poke Co. insight and storytelling. And possibly most enticing, Zach mentioned how the “vibe” of the Aloha Poke Co. spaces are welcoming of good friends and good food joining into one experience to be enjoyed together. Sound familiar?
A HUGE MAHALO to Zach, a Chicago native, for giving us this learning opportunity! One question is still worth answering though: How can a fish represent hosting Shabbat dinner?
Da Hawaiian Poke Co. highlights poke’s origins perfectly…
Poke, a classic Hawaiian pupu, or snack, is a centuries-old tradition—possibly dating as far back as the arrival of the first Hawaiians in the island chain…. Back then, poke was a simple meal. Scraps of reef fish and crisp limu, or seaweed, were mixed with crushed kukui nuts and sea salt.
Hosting Shabbat dinner with the ones you love doesn’t have to be a huge to-do… it can mean taking the scraps of what you already have and making something delicious. I’m not talking about leftovers, I’m talking about taking the extra energy you have from your week and creating a unique space where friends can gather and all unwind together. You don’t have to be a pro, you can just take what you have and run with it.
And while I’m here, finding the connection between Shabbat and Hawaiian tradition, let’s take a second to acknowledge that the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality. Why? Because as a delicacy in colonial times, a pineapple on the table meant that a host pulled out all the stops for their guests, even if it meant importing rare fruits for the sweet, sweet taste of tropical deliciousness. What if your next dinner included some cut up pineapple and sharing of The Story of the Pineapple? Just a thought.
Mahalo nui loa and aloha (thank you very much and goodbye),
* ‘ono ; (adj) ōH-no : delicious, scrumptions, finger-lickin’ good