KOHALA COAST, Big Island, Hawaii Clients can rub elbows with
chefs and learn more about local agricultural products, during
their vacation, thanks to new guest programs at two Big Island
Culinary Conversations, open only to guests of Mauna Lani Bay
Hotel & Bungalows, brings food lovers together with a top U.S.
chef for one weekend.
On Saturday, the group gathers in a private oceanview home, for
a cooking class with the chef; and lessons in floral arrangements
and wine selection.
On Sunday, participants visit a boutique lettuce farm, where
they pick and prepare their own produce for lunch, which is paired
with wines and served in a garden.
Rounding out the events are evening parties with the guest chef
and Mauna Lani Bay executive chef, Edwin Goto, as hosts; spa
activities such as yoga and tai chi; and a tour of a nearby coffee
The first Culinary Conversations event is to be held March
21-24, with Mario Batali, host of two Food Network shows and
co-owner of three restaurants in Manhattan. Clients can book now
for the next program, scheduled for Nov. 7-9, with Lee Hefter,
executive chef and a partner in Wolfgang Puck’s Spago Beverly Hills
“It’s easy to assume that only serious cooks would consider
booking this kind of program, but that’s not our intention,” said
Kurt Matsumoto, vice president of Mauna Lani Resort operations.
“The classes are structured to appeal to cooking enthusiasts of all
skills. While the goal is to share knowledge, it’s also designed
for guests to have a great time with the celebrities.”
Only 10 places are available and fees start at $3,500 per
person, including accommodations.
Another Kohala Coast resort, Hilton Waikoloa Village, is
launching culinary tours and classes for summer visitors.
“We are designing these programs to increase awareness of the
connection between farmers and chefs,” said the Hilton’s executive
chef, Wilhelm Pirngruber. “We want to introduce our guests to the
sources of their daily meals.”
Pirngruber said his resort hopes to tap into the growing
popularity of eco- and agri-tourism. “By offering these programs,
Hilton Waikoloa Village gives visitors a firsthand look at how we
use locally grown products,” he said.
On July 18 and Sept. 12, Hilton’s Upcountry Chefs Tour is
scheduled to take guests into the paniolo (cowboy) country of
Kamuela, accompanied by Pirngruber and naturalists from the ecotour
company, Hawaii Forest and Trail. Participants will learn about the
history of the ranch, visit local farmers and a livestock company,
and feast on a paniolo-style barbecue of Kamuela beef.
Hilton’s new Kona Coffee Plantation Tour and Chocolate
Demonstration are scheduled the following days, July 19 and Sept.
13. Led by the resort’s executive pastry chef, David Brown, and a
Hawaii Forest and Trail guide, the group will visit historic coffee
farms, share a picnic and stop at the Kailua Candy Co.
Each tour costs $125.
800-HILTONS or 800-445-8667; www.hilton waikoloavillage.com.