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If you are what you eat, then Oahu is living proof. As one of the world’s most prolific culinary destinations, it’s urging visitors to try dishes made with island-grown foods while introducing them to its mixed plate of cultures.
“Dining where ingredients are locally sourced preserves our fragile ecosystem,” said chef Ed Kenney, one of Oahu’s farm-to-table champions. “When visitors take a conscious approach to dining, they have a much more authentic and intimate experience with all that Hawaii has to offer.”
Kenney’s restaurant, Mahina & Sun’s, is located in Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, which supports his philosophy with its Aloha Aina (Love of the Land) Tour. Guests visit two organic farms, then enjoy a lunch prepared with fresh fruits and vegetables they just picked.
On their own, clients have many additional opportunities to see, savor and sip gifts from the Earth at attractions such as Kahuku Farms and Ko Hana Rum.
With food tourism trending more than ever, Oahu’s eateries are responding with new settings for sustainable dining, from elegant to easygoing.
At Paris.Hawaii, for instance, French cuisine honors homegrown fare in inspirations like Maui onion soup. At Nico’s Pier 38, pan-seared ahi tuna practically swims onto the plate. Makana Ranch House serves tasty treats such as pulled pork sliders on poi buns with papaya barbecue sauce. Juicy Brew — which says it “strives to provide the best juice, brew and chew experience possible” — features fresh grab-and-go innovations such as gingersnap and poha berry waffles.
Travel advisors hoping to reap the harvest of this thriving food scene have plenty of options, says Noelani Schilling-Wheeler, executive director for Oahu Visitors Bureau. They can promote annual epicurean events such as Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, which draws internationally renowned chefs, winemakers and mixologists; and Night in Chinatown, which immerses clients in exotic flavors, arts, crafts and entertainment.
“Our festivals hold great appeal because food is so much a fabric of the culture and people of Hawaii,” Schilling-Wheeler said.
Advisors also can steer clients to the island’s weekly farmers markets, which showcase Oahu bites such as jams, cheeses and baked goods.
In their own communities, advisors can connect with foodies by setting up travel booths at regional culinary festivals, and by joining social and digital groups, Schilling-Wheeler adds. In doing so, they’ll teach even more travelers about the singular joys of tasting Oahu.
The DetailsOahu Visitors Bureauwww.visit-oahu.com