Find Your Next Meal with Freddie’s List

Find Your Next Meal with Freddies List

On Wednesday August 23rd I had the opportunity to sit down with one of our own Seabury Hall faculty members and hear about a passion project of his that’s available to all Seabury students and the general public. Mr. Leventhal has a food blog called ‘Maui Food Snob’ (find him at brimming with food recommendations, maps, and best times to go. This resource is free and boasts about 200 different restaurants across Maui. 


When did you get the idea to start a food website?

It was about four years ago. I was at a party, I was at a Seabury parent’s house actually for a Passover dinner. And somebody at the party was talking about food and where they like to go. And I was like, “Oh, well, have you been to this place? What about this place?” And they’re like, “No, I haven’t been any of those.” And suddenly people seem very interested in these food recommendations that I had. And I was all just in my head. And then I realized, “Wow, this actually could be useful.” People could actually use this for something. And around that same time I was getting a haircut and I mentioned it to the barber. She was like, “That’s cool that you have that.” And at that point I had made up a spreadsheet and I was like, hey, I can just give you the spreadsheet. And she’s like, why don’t I just give you a haircut for free then? And you gimme the spreadsheet. So she actually paid me for it and I was like, well, this could really be something. So at that point I thought, okay, well let me organize this. So I was talking with a friend, telling him about the idea and I was like, I gotta find somebody who codes because I wanna make this an app or a website or something. 

And he [said], “Well I could learn to code.” 

So my friend learned how to code so he could build this app or website.

The other thing I’ll mention is that my wife and I have lived in Kihei for about six years and I run into visitors talking about going to these places and how much they paid and how it was kind of so-so, and I realized all these tourists are overpaying. They could be paying less and getting better food, but they just don’t know. They don’t know about it. And so that was actually part of the motivation behind Maui Food Snob was to help people find better food, [and] pay less doing it.


How did you come up with the title ‘Maui Food Snob’

I’ve lived in different countries and when you live in other places, you get different ideas for what food can taste like. If you’re just in the U.S. or just on Maui you don’t really have anything to compare it to. Living in Brazil, for example, I had some of the most amazing food ever. But nobody ever told me Brazil had great food. All I thought was France, Italy, Japan, like you hear about those places, but nobody ever told me about Brazil. 

I went to like 30 or 40 countries over the course of 15 years. That’s where the whole food thing for me came from. That’s where being a foodie kind of came from. 

The other part of that is that there’s a movie called Ratatouille, and there’s that food critic, Anton Ego. 

So I thought: wouldn’t it be cool if you could have Anton Ego, as a cartoon character, but put him on a surfboard? Make him Shaka, make him local. 

And I had a couple different friends who were artists and a couple students. So …there were several students who were able to help me with either the website or the cartoon character who became Freddy the food snob. It’s been a group effort. And that’s a good lesson as far as building a website or a service, you may think it’s just you and your vision, but, in the end, you need help. You need people; it’s a team.


Would you describe yourself as a “foodie”? What does that mean to you?

I’m an amateur critic and a foodie. 


How do you choose which restaurants to rate and how do you rate them, could you describe your process?

I’ve been living on Maui about 11 years and I’m married, so my wife, April, comes with me. I talk to everyone: I talk to students, talk to teachers. Whenever somebody mentions food, I just pull out my phone and I’m like, “Wait, where was that? Where do you like? What’d you get?” And I make notes. And this sounds a bit cheesy, but I have to feel the aloha. It has to feel good to my mouth, my belly and my wallet. 

I don’t mind paying a lot if it’s great, but I don’t want anybody paying more than they need to for good food. And I like to support people who don’t have the budget to advertise. So there’s a lot of food trucks [on Freddie’s list]. 

Typically, I will go to a place. I won’t say I’m Maui Food Snob. I’ll just go as a regular customer and get their food. If I like it, I’ll usually come back a couple weeks later. And then once I tell them, “Well look, I have this food blog and this directory.” But that’s it at the beginning. I never tell them that I’m researching or rating anything.


Has this blog led to new relationships with restaurants around the island?

I wouldn’t say partnerships yet. That would be a long term idea. Maybe a coupon, mention Maui Foods [and get] 10% [off]. I don’t have the energy and time right now because I teach full time. Summertime is great for that kind of marketing, promoting and relationship building. That’s really when I get the most work done. And in the meantime, I feel like I’ve built up the list of recommendations to where I want it. New things come and go. Things change. But I have my go-tos [for] now. 

Every weekend, I had to go to a new truck. [But] now I just keep up on Instagram and I see if somebody’s changed locations, if somebody closes, or if they move I’ll update it. It’s just a free service.


What’s your favorite restaurant?

That’s like saying, “Who’s your favorite student at Seabury?”  

It’s easier for me to name a few, but I can already tell you it’s the food trucks.

If you want good food with heart – with real Aloha – they’re really putting their soul into it. They’re artists. Some of these food truck owners are artists. Kitoko comes to mind, for example, but you never hear of it cause they don’t really advertise. That’s what Maui Food Snob is for: to bring [restaurants] exposure. And it’s free.


***Notes: You can save the “Freddie’s List” app to your phone’s home screen from the website, but it doesn’t exist in the App Store.