Ernest Morgado / 1917-2002

Huli Huli’s creator
went global

Ernest Morgado was also
supportive of Portuguese culture

More obituaries

By Leila Fujimori

Huli Huli Chicken king Ernest Frank Morgado died Tuesday at 85.

"He coined the term 'Huli Huli Chicken' and patented it," said John Farias, a longtime friend and former state agriculture chairman. "That's how Hawaii has Huli Huli Chicken, because of Ernie."

Morgado, one of the founders and president of Pacific Poultry Co., which distributes fresh poultry under the Ewa Brand, began Huli Huli Chicken fund raising in Hawaii.

"He was low-key, but highly competitive in business matters and a great father, grandfather and great-grandfather," said son Jaren Hancock, vice president of marketing for the company.

Morgado marketed his Huli Huli sauce in Europe, Japan and on the mainland.

The trademark was born out of the Hawaiian "huli huli," meaning to turn repeatedly. Chicken halves are cooked on metal frame screens that are turned over a charcoal fire.

Son Brent Hancock said Morgado provided barbecue chicken for farm bureau meetings in the late '50s or early '60s, and they started receiving requests for private parties and other functions.

Hancock said the chicken got so popular that Morgado decided to start charging more and eventually patented Huli Huli Chicken.

Born in Hilo, Morgado graduated from St. Louis High School. He served in World War II as a chief petty officer in naval intelligence and served on the state Board of Agriculture from 1974 to 1981.

In the 1960s, as Hawaiian Grain Corp.'s president, he oversaw the building and operation of Honolulu's first bulk grain elevators at Pier 23.

But Morgado was more than a businessman.

He co-founded the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in 1977 with Honolulu City Councilman John Henry Felix and served as honorary vice consul to Portugal until his death.

Morgado was very active and supportive of Portuguese culture.

"He was a godsend to the Portuguese community," said Laura Figueira, board member and past president of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce. "He will be sorely missed."

A second-generation Portuguese, he traced his roots back to the 14th-century Azores.

"He made numerous trips to Portugal, the Azores and Madeira, telling the story of the Portuguese in Hawaii," Felix said. "He was extremely proud of his Portuguese heritage."

Morgado enjoyed spending time with family and traveling the world with his wife of 54 years, Norma Fay.

Felix, a friend for more than 40 years, called Morgado a gentleman.

In addition to his wife and sons, Morgado is survived by daughter Kathleen Vest, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Services will be held 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Honolulu Tabernacle, 1560 S. Beretania St. Visitation is from 4 to 5 p.m. Aloha attire.

E-mail to City Desk


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