Chef Roy Yamaguchi in field of greens. // © 2011 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival
From food booths at farmer’s markets to menus in high-profile restaurants, Hawaii’s local produce, seafood, beef and poultry have become increasingly popular in recent years. Now, the distinctive flavors of the islands are taking center stage at a new annual event on Oahu called the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, running from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1.
Inspired by the ancient Hawaiian tradition of ahupuaa – an interdependent system where everything necessary for survival is grown, gathered and exchanged locally – the food and wine festival is highlighting Hawaii’s return to a sustainable ecosystem of agriculture, environment and economy.
Co-chairs of the event are Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, two of Hawaii’s own James Beard award-winning chefs.
“Visitors come to Hawaii for natural beauty, diverse experiences and our aloha spirit,” said Yamaguchi. “We want to make sure that Hawaii’s cuisine — and our philosophy for using the freshest and most prized food ingredients prepared with creative Asian and European culinary techniques — joins this list of attractions.”
The launch of the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, which encourages chefs in Hawaii to use local produce, meats and fish at their restaurants and to partner with farmers in the islands who raise specialty foods. Today, island chefs source locally-grown products like Hamakua tomatoes, Nalo greens, sea asparagus, Kahuku corn, cacao, gobo, breadfruit, hearts of palm, grass-fed beef and Kona abalone, all to create dishes evocative of Hawaii's unique multicultural heritage.
“Hawaii’s fertile agricultural landscape and diverse climate enable our farmers to produce crops of unsurpassed quality that are not readily available outside of the islands,” said Wong. “This allows us to interpret our food in innovative ways and give visitors a taste of the diverse culture of our islands.”
Taking part in the festival are internationally renowned master chefs, culinary personalities and wine and spirit producers.
The event is comprised of three singular dining experiences:
-Streets of Asia — Morimoto and Friends: Interpretations of popular dishes by top chefs from Hawaii, Korea, Singapore, Canada and the U.S., led by Masaharu Morimoto, the famed chef whose restaurant, Morimoto Waikiki, is located at the Waikiki Edition Hotel.
-Halekulani Master Chefs Gala Dinner Series: A lavish formal dinner at the Halekulani, with dishes created by master chefs from Hawaii, Japan, Australia and the U.S.
-From Mauka to Makai — Hawaii’s Sustainable Future: A grand tasting event prepared by 15 celebrity chefs known for promoting farm-to-table cuisine and for practicing sustainable sourcing and cooking practices.
Tickets for each event range from $200 to $1,000 per person.
In support of the festival, three hotels are offering special rates for stays from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31. Hilton Hawaiian Village is listing a rate of $179 per night, while Waikiki Edition is offering a rate of $375 and Halekulani has rooms for $470.