As the wildfire death toll kept rising in Maui, Joe Fugere, CEO of Seattle-based Tutta Bella, thought about his friends who once lived there—and how he could help from all the way across the Pacific Ocean.

The answer is the Maui Ohana, a new specialty pizza that will raise funds for victims of the disaster, with all proceeds donated to the Maui Food Bank.

“The devastation on Maui, especially in Lahaina, is just heartbreaking to see,” Fugere said. “We feel for the people across the Hawaiian Islands, and we’re just trying to do our small part in what is sure to be a long and tough recovery.”

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Fugere has close friends who are originally from Hawaii, including Chef Lisa Nakamura, who founded Gnocchi Bar on Seattle’s Capitol Hill and sold it to Fugere in 2021. The two began discussing ways they could make an immediate impact.

“I knew Joe was the right person to connect with to help us fight this sinking feeling of helplessness in any way that we can,” Nakamura said. “There are so many of us Hawaii folk in Seattle, and we are all feeling helpless anguish at what’s happened to Lahaina.”

The Maui Ohana pizza will be offered at all five Tutta Bella locations. “We have no end date on how long this pizza will be available, but at least through August 31,” Fugere said.

The Neapolitan-style pizza features extra-virgin olive oil, roasted pineapple, prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, red onions, house-pickled peppers and Pecorino Romano. Tutta Bella was the first Neapolitan pizzeria in the American Northwest to be certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN).

Fugere and his team at Tutta Bella have always been quick to raise money for worthy causes—and not just local ones. Shortly after the war in Ukraine broke out in early 2022, the company introduced a craft cocktail called the Peremoha, which means “victory,” and donated all the proceeds to Razom for Ukraine, a nonprofit supporting the people of Ukraine. And in 2019, Tutta Bella pledged a dollar-for-dollar donation match of up to $5,000 to Mercy Corps for earthquake and tsunami relief in Japan.

In a unique promotion in July 2022, Tutta Bella even pitched in to help its local customers deal with high gas prices. When guests brought in a printed receipt after filling their car tanks, the restaurant knocked the cost of a gallon of gas off their check.

In a press release announcing the Maui Ohana pizza, Fugere gave his Hawaiian friends and colleagues a chance to make a plea for help for Maui. Kolt Kaneshiro, for example, is Tutta Bella’s IT professional. His childhood home in Lahaina was destroyed in the wildfires, and his extended family still lives in Lahaina.

“Born and raised in Hawaii, the spirit of aloha is just the way of life,” Kaneshiro said. “It’s a natural part of our culture to look out and help one another unconditionally. We show genuine love, compassion and kindness to everyone. And we’ll do whatever it takes to help make things better for our Ohana. Taking care of one another is paramount, and that’s what’s happening. People in Lahaina are finding their own creative ways to KOKUA (help) to get through this nightmare. They can’t wait for the government to take action; they’re pitching in to help each other survive. I feel helpless so far away from home…all these thoughts and emotions keep rushing through my mind.”

Nakamura noted that those who have escaped their worries and woes by vacationing in Hawaii have a chance to “return the favor” by supporting wildfire relief efforts. “Rebuilding will be hard,” she said. “There’s no neighboring state and connecting freeway. Everything will have to be flown in or barged in.

Nevertheless, Nakamura added, “We know the Ohana spirit will prevail, and aloha will prevail.”

Food & Ingredients