Posted on July 1, 2009 by Joan

When acclaimed restaurateur Alan Wong picked Lorie for a farm-to-table story in Modern Luxury Hawaiʻi, she was thrilled. Alan was the first chef to feature our Kaʻu Classic Dark Roast on his menu, so we have a soft spot for him.

But that’s not the only reason Lorie was excited. The photo shoot allowed her to wear a gown.

This sounds trivial, but think about it: The life of a farmer is anything but glamorous. Lorie typically sports worn jeans and T-shirts, as well as multi-colored Crocs or hiking boots. Her hair often is smushed under a hat, or flattened by rain. She barely wears makeup and rarely paints her nails. After all, they’re chipped from pulling weeds and harvesting coffee cherries.

So on the day of the photo shoot, she was as happy as a girl playing dress up. “I think I found my calling as a model!” she joked, after stylists did her hair and made up her face.

Alan was amused. “Lorie, you are a hoot!” he said.

Lorie laughed, but privately she was worried. “Why did he call me a hoot?” she asked later, after returning home. “Is he telling me I sound like an owl?”

I almost dropped the phone from laughing so hard. “No Mom,” I finally said. “When someone says you’re a hoot, it means they think you’re funny.”

Now it was her turn to giggle. “Oh, thank goodness!” she said. “Alan has been so good to us. I didn’t want to get upset with him.”

Here’s a snippet of Lorie’s affection for Alan from the story, which appeared in the magazine’s 2009 restaurant issue:

She appreciates the fact that Wong doesn’t just buy products; he makes an effort to meet and get to know the dedicated growers behind the scenes. “He’s very generous in associating his famous name with undiscovered, hard-working people like me, so we will benefit,” Obra says. “That makes me work even harder to keep up the quality of my coffee. I don’t want to disappoint him because I know he believes in me and what I do.”