Whether you are planning your first trip or are a loyal repeat visitor to the Aloha State, The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival is yet another reason to stay, eat and return to Hawaii.
What sets The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival apart from all the rest and deserves to be on your must- do list is the fact that virtually all the ingredients served are grown, raised or caught in Hawaii.
This year, the festivities kicked off in Maui, just after the Kaanapali Fresh Festival, which is reason alone to plan a Maui visit before going on to Honolulu for the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival.
Both festivals will impress you with the transformation of Hawaii from a consuming to a producing Mecca. Where once almost every food item was imported, the state now grows much of what it eats.
Farmers and fishers are consulted, embraced and revered for their magic in producing and catching some of the tastiest home grown products available on the planet. The two days of events at the Kaanapali Fresh Festival serve to introduce locals and guests to the pleasures of this “locavore” haven and salute the farmers, fishers, and chefs who delight us with every bite.
If you start in Maui at the Kaanapali Fresh Festival plan to attend the Friday evening “Progressive Kaanapali Dinner.” Guests started at the Westin Maui Resort and Spa where they enjoyed savory tastes infused with coffee created by the resorts culinary team, then everyone moves on to live music and desserts provided by the team at the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa.
Saturday starts with a trip to the local market to revel in local bounty. Then there is a tour and lunch at a coffee plantation to celebrate the 200 years of coffee production in Hawaii. The Saturday evening signature event boasts a tasting of farm-to-table cuisine with carefully selected wines highlighting the artistry of local chefs and farmers and a silent auction dedicated to supporting Maui agriculture. The level of cuisine and the wines provided by Southern Wine and Spirits is a stellar examples of the quality found on the island paradise of Maui.
Having tempted your taste buds with the celebration of Kaanapali Fresh, you will be ready to knowledgeably indulge in the pleasures of the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, which stages its opening event, “Malama Maui,” at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa on Sunday evening. The kickoff features sunset cocktails overlooking the Pacific, palm trees swaying to smooth jazz, and six global luminary chefs collaborating on a dinner extravaganza using Maui’s finest ingredients paired with international wines selected by Southern Wine and Spirits.
The remainder of the festival takes place in Honolulu four days later giving you plenty of time to relax, work up an appetite and enjoy the resort before taking the short flight to Oahu.
The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa’s many features offer you an ideal location to start your festival experience. It is centrally located to all the tourist areas, and is a destination onto itself. Covering 40 acres, this property offers something for everyone. Among its most coveted highlights are the Swan Court and the Penguin Cove. The lush landscape, pool extravaganza complete with slides, caves and waterfalls, extensive shopping arcade, fine art collection and superb selection of restaurants makes this a one stop stay and play option for families and couples alike.
For a unique experience, sign up for Sushi School and a Tour of the Stars where the director of astronomy will show you the night sky from atop the roof. Treat yourself to Regency status for customized service and amenities to please the most discriminating guests and enjoy a meal at Japengo where locally grown products and Pacific Rim influences entice and delight the palate. .
After enjoying marvelous Maui, it’s time to hop over to Honolulu to continue the excitement of the world class Hawaii Food and Wine Festival where over 70 renowned chefs from around the globe have gathered to utilize only Hawaiian products in their gourmet offerings. The culinary team is anchored by the festival’s founders, Allan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi, both of whom are Honolulu-based James Beard Award-Winners.
Besides five signature evening events, there are a series of educational experiences and seminars lead by four master sommeliers and top flight winemakers. The impressive array of culinary talent includes Ricardo Zarate of Mo-Chica in Los Angeles, Celestino Drago (Drago Restaurant Group).
Check in at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, one of the venues for the many festival activities. Centrally located to take advantage of shopping and beach, this aloha-spirited welcoming resort offers daily activities through its cultural center to enhance your understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the Hawaiian culture.
Learn lei making, hula, ukulele and much more. The Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa is home to world class Na Ho’ola Spa, where the breathtaking ocean view meets the spa. Select one of their many signature Hawaiian treatments and enjoy the sights and sounds of the spectacular views as you await your pampering.
Before the festival begins, dine at Japengo where Pacific Rim cuisine is at its most authentic. Executive Chef Sven spares no expense in selecting the finest ingredients to prepare each succulent item with the utmost concern for genuine regional flair.
Ever vigilant about honoring the traditions of each dish, chefs from Beijing taught the kitchen staff to make their authentic fried rice, and it took weeks to perfect!
And perfect it they did, as your taste buds will attest. That is just one example of the care that goes into each dish. The hip décor, intimate spaces for private parties and beautifully presented cuisine make Japengo “a must” on your culinary tour of Waikiki.
The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival signature event is sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines: “Under the Modern Moon: Morimoto & Friends at The Modern Honolulu.” This event includes 15 world class chefs from Asia and the Pacific— each offering succulent morsels to tease your taste buds, stellar wines presented by the winemakers themselves, including Jim Clendenen, whose Au Bon Climat label is world renown, http://www.aubonclimat.com/, and you will also meet mixology magicians offering creative sips in a cool, hip, environment that wowed even the most sophisticated palates.
Try one of Honolulu’s favorite chefs, Chef Chai’s Restaurant, before you leave the city. As a TV personality and executive chef of Hawaiian Airlines, the only domestic airline to still serve complimentary meals even in economy class, his Pacific fusion cuisine is a soul satisfying blend of Hawaii’s finest ingredients with Asian influences, European technique and a pinch of health food savvy for good measure. That makes for unique items such as lobster bisque without the butter and cream, healthy stir fry and a lighter version of coconut cheesecake, all full flavored, delicious and ever so good for you!
Culinary demonstrations and wine seminars add to the daytime activities sprinkled in between the evening’s other special events. Saturday’s “Rooftop Garden at Hawaii’s Convention Center” and Sunday’s “Savory Ever After at Ko Olina Resort,” showcase the talents of countless luminary chefs from the Islands, Mainland, and Pacific Rim— all designed to thrill and delight the attendees who also come from near and far to experience the culinary excellence that is Hawaii.
Mark these two event— Kaanapali Fresh in Maui and The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival in Honolulu— on your gourmet calendar, and make this a culinary destination vacation to savor!