Hands-On Cuisine

In Hawaii, there are more ways to experience food than simply eating it.

By: By Karla Aronson


Gourmet Cooking Hawaii
Commission: 10 percent, excluding events

Hawaii Food Tours
Commission: 10 percent

Share Your Table

The Liliha Bakery's famed coco puff pastries // (c) Gourmet Cooking HawaiiIn Hawaii, there are more ways to experience food than simply eating it. When clients take part in farm, restaurant and neighborhood tours, cooking classes and gourmet meals, they go straight to the food source, make meaningful contact with locals and learn about the history, culture and traditions of island cuisine.

A case in point is 5-year-old Hawaii Food Tours, which offers three guided restaurant tours in and around Honolulu. Its most popular day trip, the Hole-in-the-Wall Tour, takes clients away from the touristy areas of town into places where only locals frequent, said company founder and tour leader Matthew Gray. Excursions are intimate and promote a high-touch atmosphere, he noted.

“It’s an informative, social [outing],” Gray said. “It’s the kind of tour I would want to take when I visit other cities.”

Gray suggests agents schedule a daytime Hole-in-the-Wall tour at the beginning of their client’s stay in Honolulu. The company’s two nighttime tours — the Hawaiian Feast in Paradise tour and the Gourmet Trilogy Tour for Food & Wine Lovers — are best saved for later in the trip for an evening culinary outing.

Gourmet Cooking Hawaii, an Oahu-based event-planning company, offers a range of cooking classes, farm tours and dining experiences. Clients can join in on one of its two public, ongoing Oahu cooking sessions. Here, participation can be hands-on or not, depending on each client’s interests.

Groups, meanwhile, can also reserve a culinary event where they choose the chef, date and location. All 10 celebrity chefs on the company’s roster have commitments with local farmers and showcase Hawaii’s multi-ethnic foods, said company owner Katherine Lin-Hurtubise. Events can be arranged at private estates and restaurants or set up as private tours to local farms.

Gourmet Cooking Hawaii also runs Farm & Culinary Adventure Tours including two on Oahu and a single tour each on Maui and the Big Island. “Travel agents who most often recommend our events are those who have repeat clients, who have already done Hawaii’s sand and sea thing, and who now want a different experience of Hawaii,” Lin-Hirtubise added.

New to the culinary landscape is Share Your Table, a multimedia enterprise that is sure to become a valuable resource for agents. Share Your Table encompasses a dedicated Web site and joint venture platforms with The Honolulu Advertiser Web site and Hawaii’s Oceanic Time Warner Cable for an interactive cable television channel.

The site, launched in late May, offers feature stories, videos, images and Web blogs, recipe and cooking and shopping tips.

When the Share Your Table cable television channel launches in late fall, viewers will be able to select video clips on-demand and interactively request additional information on a particular topic.

“Share Your Table offers travel agents a way to provide their clients with recommendations from local people who truly love food,” producer Melanie H. Kosaka said. “It’s a great way to entice clients to select Hawaii as their destination of choice.”