Mutiny Island Vodka Hosts Award-Winning Chef Sam Choy on St. Croix

The Mutiny Island Vodka Distillery and the Mill on the Christiansted Boardwalk were filled with St. Croix foodies on Monday and Tuesday.

Full House at Mutiny Distillery welcomes Chef Sam Choy (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Both crowds were eager to meet the James Beard award-winning Chef Sam Choy, taste his culinary appetizers and get a copy of his breadfruit cookbook. 

Mutiny Island Vodka owner and award-winning chef Todd Manley and “Godfather of Poke” Choy have enjoyed a partnership with breadfruit since Choy tasted Manley’s first batch of distilled island vodka created in 2017. “It was the perfect distillation using the precious ingredients of breadfruit and Caribbean rainwater achieved together with award-winning master distiller Chris Richeson,” Manley said.

James Beard Award-winning Chef Sam Choy (Source photo by Elisa McKay)


Choy took Manley to Hawaii and American Samoa and taught him everything [he] now knows about breadfruit, also known as ‘Ulu and pronounced (ooh-loo). “Sam took me in the right direction to learn of the opportunities for the production of breadfruit on this island with such uses as flour, pasta, pizza and more.”

Todd Manley, Award-winning chef, CEO Mutiny Island Vodka (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Monday night’s event at the Mutiny Distillery was a huge success, with nods to the Pugliese restaurateur family. Katherine sent out the publicity and kept the ‘Ulu flow organized and the jubilant crowd happy during the evening. Frank and their son Dominic were busy in the kitchen prepping for Choy’s breadfruit appetizers such as ‘Ulu Spam Musubi, Tempura ‘Ulu, Savory ‘Ulu Bread Pudding, Southern Pacific ‘Ulu, Mango, and Banana Bread Pudding and so many more mouth-watering delights.

Chef Dominic Pugliese, Katherine Pugliese, Chef Frank Pugliese (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Choy’s ‘Ulu Cookbook is filled with Hawaii’s Breadfruit Recipes. It was free to the first 30 people at the event and personally autographed by Choy. Most folks opted for a photo with Choy, as well.

Sam Choy’s ‘ULU Cookbook (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Mutiny bartenders created delicious Mutiny Vodka drinks like Mutiny Herb Smash, Mutiny Purple Hawaiian, and Mutiny Mai Tai… each drink using local fruits, herbs, and other goodies in addition to Mutiny Island Vodka.

Tasting Room with distillery on view through looking glass. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Katherine Pugliese spoke about the connection being “magical” between the two chefs…Choy and Manley. 

Choy was part of the 2013 Facebook team for the annual Food & Wine Taste of St. Croix. Choy fell in love with St. Croix and helped mentor students for Facebook Culinary employment opportunities. Those students were handpicked and were flown to Hawai’i giving them an environment of a taste of the world, Choy said. “They are all doing very well today in the culinary field.”

Katherine Pugliese serves up Sam Choy’s breadfruit appetizers.
(Photo courtesy of Diane Hampton)

According to Katherine, Choy returned to St. Croix in 2014, 15, and 16. He did the sunset bar-b-que on the pier and a few Poke events. 

“He has such a great personality and is so genuine,” Katherine shared.

Crucian night at the Mill for Poke Pizza (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Tuesday evening at the Mill on the boardwalk was a Crucian delight for all who attended. The weather was warm, yet there was a breeze from the harbor accommodating the standing room only crowd. Choy’s cookbooks were given free and autographed for several attendees.

Choy worked his culinary magic again. He called out kudos for the staff at the ovens. The bakers were busy at work making poke pizza  “My poke (fish) has ‘Ulu, ginger, pesto, roasted garlic, natural herbs and more,” Choy shared.

Patrons at the Mill on the Boardwalk enjoy Chef Sam Choy’s Poke Pizza (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

The music was “right on time,” with Ray Isles on congas and Gyasi Clarke on vocals and guitar vibing the night away.

Manley shared a recent accomplishment with the crowd: Mutiny Island Vodka was awarded a Double Gold Medal for Domestic Vodka for the USVI, namely St. Croix.

Choy recognized that island people are such great people. “If America was founded through the islands first, it would be a much greater country,” he said.

Sion Farm Distillery 340-690-9322

Open Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. 

Happy Hour, 4:00 p.m.  – 5:55 p.m. 

Saturday Brunch 10 a.m. – 2  p.m. 

The Mutiny Island Vodka tour begins as you enter the sleek, newly renovated space that serves as the bar and tasting room. Patrons can enjoy the view through the glass wall to the newly-installed, state of the art artisanal copper still.

Tours are provided to walk-in guests every hour on the half-hour.

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