By Léo Azambuja

The Austrians invented the kipferi in the 13th century. After an Austrian artillery officer moved to Paris in the 1830s to open the Boulangerie Viennoise, the kipferi slowly evolved to become what is known as the croissant. And then quite recently, Haole Girl Island Sweets has brought the croissant to a whole new level of excellence.

“All the croissants are made with local honey; we don’t use processed sugar in the dough. Everything is hand-rolled, and depending on what we get from the farmers, it is what we put into the croissants,” said Judy Capertina, owner of Haole Girl Island Sweets in Kapa‘a.

A trained pastry chef with more than four decades of experience, Capertina graduated from the Culinary Institute of America on the East Coast. Because she had a biochemistry background at New York State University, she often found herself baking at the culinary school. After working in many resorts and hotels in Hawai‘i and on the Mainland, she returned to Kaua‘i to open Haole Girl Island Sweets seven years ago.

“We are a farm-to-table bakery, so we utilize the products that are from the farmers and beekeepers on the island,” Capertina said.

Years ago, she worked as a chef at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France, where she would shop at local farmers markets for ingredients. She loved the concept. “If it’s not in season, or if it’s not available, you make adjustments on your menu.” So it was only natural that when she finally opened her own bakery, she would carry the same concept.

Haole Girl’s specialty is definitely their croissants. The honey is the first flavor your taste buds will notice, setting off the beginning of a meal you’ll wish would never end. If you are eating a sweet croissant, the honey will enhance the experience once you get to the filling. The savory croissants confirm opposites attract; it’s Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending. And if you have just a plain croissant, you’ll be quite pleased knowing Kaua‘i has a one-up on the French. It’s that good!

Another must-have at Haole Girl is the quiche. Capertina soaks the croissant dough in a quiche custard overnight before baking it. Or have a sticky bun, also made with the same croissant batter. And there is so much more, such as gluten- and dairy-free banana bread, vegan taro focaccia, island-roasted Imua coffee, and made-to-order cakes for special occasions.

Haole Girl Island Sweets owner Judy Capertina

“We have a staff of eight people and it’s awesome,” Capertina said. “We do a lot of custom work.”

Haole Girl Island Sweets is a member of the Kaua‘i Made program, which means at least 51 percent of their ingredients must come from Kaua‘i.

“It makes us become more flexible and more adaptable,” Capertina said. “We learn to use the products that are here, which is awesome because a lot of the products that are here you don’t see them anywhere else.”

Besides having a small outside dining area at the Kapa‘a bakery, Capertina is also present in several farmers markets throughout Kaua‘i. On Saturday, Haole Girl is at Kaua‘i Community College famers market from 9:30 to 1 p.m., and at Kilauea Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Sunday, they are at Princeville Art Walk from 4 to 8 p.m. On Tuesday and Thursday, they set up a tent at Coconut Marketplace farmers market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Wednesday, they are at Kukui‘ula Culinary Market from 3:30 to 6 p.m.

Haole Girl Island Sweets is at 934 B Kipuni Way in Kapa‘a, open every day but Monday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Contact them at haolegirlsweets@gmail.com or (808) 822-2253.