Food of the Islands

Maui chef cooks up new package that combines classes, local farm visits and dining

By: Marty Wentzel

HALIIMAILE, MauiMaui chef Bev Gannon is cooking up a new commissionable program for clients who love food and Hawaii.

Called “A Culinary Journey of Hawaii’s Regional Cuisine,” the six-night package includes visits to local farms, cooking classes, meals in popular restaurants, a day trip to the Honolulu fish auction, Chinatown and Nalo Farms on Oahu and a chance to prepare an authentic backyard luau.

The inaugural program runs May 4-10, 2003, and Gannon hopes to offer it four times a year.

One of the founders of the ten-year-old Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, which promotes the use of fresh island products, Gannon also owns and operates Maui’s upcountry Haliimaile General Store restaurant and Joe’s Bar & Grill in Wailea.

Gannon dreamed up the idea for the culinary journey after years of traveling to the mainland to run cooking classes. “It just popped into my head that I should offer classes on Maui,” said Gannon. “One of the few things Hawaii doesn’t offer visitors is a place where they can go to learn firsthand about the food of the islands for an extended period of time.

“People like to combine travel with their special interests, so it makes perfect sense,” she said.

Gannon said participants don’t need to know a lot about cooking. “I don’t teach complicated things, because I want people to feel like they can make the same dishes when they go home,” she said. “The program is ideal for people who love Hawaii and who also like to eat.”

During the week, participants stay in Gannon’s new upcountry Maui inn called Sugar House, located in Haliimaile. Since opening Sugar House in August 2002, Gannon has promoted it as the ultimate private location for weddings, parties, family reunions and retreats as well as the headquarters for her culinary adventures.

Set on seven acres with views of Maalaea Bay, Kahului Bay and the West Maui Mountains, Sugar House dates back to 1946. Until recently, the four-bedroom 1,800-square-foot home served as the residence for Hawaii Commercial & Sugar plantation managers and their families. It features ohia wood floors, open-beam ceilings, two dining rooms seating 60 people each, two fireplaces, four bedrooms, three-and-one-half baths, a dance floor, screened lanai and full kitchen. Highlights of the grounds include plumeria, eucalyptus, poinciana and shower trees, shaded lawns, a paddle tennis court and remnants of a small 19th-century sugar mill.

Gannon’s commissionable Culinary Journey costs $3,800 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, meals, culinary activities, interisland airfare and ground transportation. Mainland airfare to and from Maui is not included. Add $100 per day for single room accommodations. If 10 people sign up, Gannon will house two of them in her own home.

Gannon can customize the program for corporate group clients. For group gatherings throughout the year, Sugar House’s commissionable rates range from $250 per night for two guests to $400 per night for eight. or 808-572-4946