Located on the lawn at the Sheraton Maui in Lahaina, Hawai’i, the Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival delivered again with 13 knowledgeable chefs across the country bringing you a special bite using local, fresh ingredients. Pair these delicious and carefully created appetizers and desserts with cocktails from Mixologists and wine from Master Sommeliers. Be entertained with belly dancers, music and the MC keeping the event festive.
I was able to attend a similar event last year and report back. I was ecstatic to come back and try this year’s creations. My father and step mother were able to attend as well and as foodies, they enjoyed it as well. “This is a lot!” my father exclaimed. It was like a 13-course tasting menu. Not bad for a $200 ticket, with unlimited wine, cocktails, beer by Stella Artois and Fiji water.
These Chefs may be on television shows and magazines, have written cookbooks and received countless rewards and accolades, but they are so approachable! While dining on a wood-smoked BBQ rib by San Francisco’s ‘aina’s Chef Jordan Keao at a well-dressed table with a textured orange tablecloth and chiavari chairs, you can see the chefs at their booths chatting it up with attendees, prepping each dish and posing for pictures. “Hi, Chef.” “Hello!” We met Chef Alan Wong last year at the 7-course dinner at the Hyatt Maui. He had a professional camera in hand and taking photos of the event.
Behind me, I could see Chef Robert Irvine being quite the personality and chatting it up with attendees and making people laugh. Stay tuned for the footage I have of him taking off his chef coat in a seductive way for his wife as the fireworks decorated the sky.
It was wonderful to see Chef Lyndon Honda, Executive Chef of the Sheraton Maui, again. I interviewed him at Media Day at last year’s event and he said he was currently “surviving” when asked the common question of how he was doing. An email from Denise Yamaguchi went out to attendees in regards to the picketers at the entrance of the Sheraton that it was OK and that there was security. The strike is national and effecting more than just the Sheraton Maui and Chef Honda and his staff. When you go to the elevators, there is a buffet of toiletries you may take as the housekeeping staff is on staff. I am sure it’s also in Chef’s kitchen. Nonetheless, he pushes through, delivers on an amazing dish with a malasada. Not only was it a hefty dish and full of flavor, it was nice to be remembered. And was told I was beautiful that evening. If this blog could blush, it would.
Other favorite dishes besides Chef Irvine’s bigeye tuna crudo with avocado, lime, cucumber juice, cilantro and watercress, would have to be dishes from Chef Stepehn Pyles out of Dallas, Texas with a sweet corn and Kona lobster, jicama, Texas grapefruit and avocado and Chef Mike Lofano from Honolulu, Hawai’i with his New England clambake “Stuffies” with merquez, Kona Maine lobster, perserved lemon and sea dulce. Oh my! Perhaps anything with lobster is a winner for me? Chef Pyles dish was a combination of textures with a southern twist. Chef Lofano’s clambakes served individually on a bed of rocks and edible seaweed. Towards the end of the event, I was invited to take as many as I wanted. I took a few and carefully transported them to the car, basically seat-belted them in and took a prime spot in the fridge. It was the best breakfast to have in the morning served cold before Media Day at Roy’s at 8 AM. Thank you!
Then there’s of course, the man himself, Chef Roy Yamaguchi. He prepared a Halo Halo with pineapple ice and ube ice cream. As a Filipina, unfortunately, I am not a fan of Halo Halo. I honestly cannot remember the last time I had it. But for Cher Roy, I’ll try it. Waiting in line with my Papa Bear, we see Chef Roy even shaving ice himself! That’s a leader right there, not too proud or high and mighty to prepare his own dish. What did it taste like? Heaven. It’s the Halo Halo I would order again. My Papa Bear and Stepmom also agreed. I am also honored that Chef Roy reposted my photo of his dessert. It was so beautiful that it didn’t need any Instagram or Snapchat filter.
Speeches were made, introductions of the Chefs and key people were made, and all the interns from the Culinary Academy the event was benefiting came on stage. And like last year, fireworks filled the sky.