Kapalua Wine & Food Festival in Mauifeatured

Ya heard right, I’m going to MAUI! Huzzahhhh!!

I did quite the hula dance of happiness when I received the invitation to cover the 29th Annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival (June 24-27, 2010) at the beautiful Kapalua Resort.

The soiree is Hawaii’s longest running event of its kind — a four-day celebration of Hawaii’s Regional Cuisine, featuring gourmet cooking demonstrations, tastings from Maui’s top chefs, and a plethora of wines from several of the world’s most famous winemakers, brought together by returning host, Master Sommelier Fred Dame.

Chef DK Kodama I caught up with Festival Chef Dave “D.K.” Kodama, Chef/Owner of DK Restaurants (including the lauded Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar), to see what he had in store for the big event. For the first time, the festival will be partnering with the Maui County Farm Bureau and special attention will be given to the many local farmers who provide all the amazingly fresh products to many of Maui’s chefs, including DK. DK revealed that for his luncheon demo (DK’s Secrets: Sansei Style), they will set up a farmer’s market showcase, where he’ll be selecting some of his favorite local products to cook with. Expect to see some sweet Maui onions, fresh hearts of palm, Kula strawberries, and lavender.

Since I’m a newbie to Hawaiian Regional Cuisine (this will be my first time to Hawaii in fact – yippee!), I asked the pro what it was all about. DK explained, “It’s all about two things really – product and variety. Here, we are so lucky to have incredibly fresh, high-quality, local ingredients at our fingertips. Local cattle and fish, and fruits and vegetables that aren’t subject to seasons – it’s always in season here. And then variety. I’m totally into variety – that’s what makes Hawaiian Cuisine so special, we have all these multiethnic cultural influences that come together.”

Oh yes, DK, I hear you. And I am totally into tasting all that variety.

Peep one of DK Kodama’s festival recipes: Kona Cold Sous Vide Lobster “Farm to Table” Salad Waipoli Hydroponic Greens, Big Island Hearts of Palm, Citrus Gelee and Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette

Kapalua Wine & Food Festival

Pinch me. Wait, no, please don’t. If this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up.

The eat/drink fest will culminate in a beachside Seafood Festival, where 13 of Maui’s top chef’s will compete for the “Best of the Fest” prize sponsored by Maui No Ka Oi Magazine. Among the contestants will be Chef & restaurateur Peter Merriman, of the acclaimed Merriman’s restaurants.

Chef Peter Merriman Peter was a founding member of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement and pioneer for locavorism long before it was a popular thing to do. “Doing the Right Thing Since 1988,” he has supported and helped grow local Hawaii farms and agriculture for over 20 years. In fact, Merriman’s uses 90% local products in its dishes, a standard unsurpassed within the Hawaii culinary world, and many of his growers farm organically.

Merriman's Kapalua Seafood Festival dish

Sweet Corn Chowder Custard topped with Tomato Corn Salsa & Smoked Opah

Peep one of Peter Merriman’s festival recipes: Sweet Corn Chowder Custard topped with Tomato Corn Salsa & Smoked Opah

Are you hungry yet? Because this girl is…

So stoked to experience some authentic Hawaiian Cuisine. If you have some favorite spots, please share!

I’ll leave you with this fitting little diddy a friend passed along (thanks, Moran!)…still need to read up on what these dishes are, any experts out there who can be my dish translator?

I like my fish & poi, I’m a big boy
Lomi salmon, pipikaula, extra large lilikoi
Squid or chicken lu`au don’t forget the laulau
Beef or tripe stew just to name a few (oh yeah)
No can forget papa’s speciality
And mama’s poi mochi
Smoke meat, shoyu poke with the rice can make a bad day feel real nice…
— Sean Na’auao, The Fish & Poi song

29th Annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival
June 24-27, 2010
Kapalua Resort, Maui, Hawaii

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