Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

Another stellar year of visiting chefs

©Linny Morris

Adam Richman calls it part reunion, part food festival and part celebration of the aina. Marcel Vigneron deems Hawai‘i his culinary muse. Meanwhile, Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival (HFWF) founders Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong believe the multi-day, multi-island event affords them a chance to give back to a community that has given so much to them.

“To see what’s happened in five years is to be able to say, eh, we gave back $1 million to our community, to help our community and to help our kids,” says Wong in a mission video for the festival. “I think Roy and I, and Denise (Yamaguchi, the festival’s executive director) and I want to leave Hawai‘i in a better place than when we signed in and that’s the most important thing.”

More than just about eating great meals and drinking fine wines, the festival exposes Hawai‘i’s efforts to be sustainable and more food secure. Farmers, ranchers, fishermen interact with chefs and the public to open a dialogue about our farms and waters, and to embrace the idea of  “Grown Here, Not Flown Here.”

“We respect the land. We respect the sea and we respect everything in between,” says Roy Yamaguchi. “Of course Hawai‘i has beauty; but it’s the agriculture, it’s the fishermen and it’s the ranchers who give (Hawai‘i) more meaning than just its beauty.”

Now in it’s seventh year, HFWF again will attract a national and international contingency of chefs and vintners who will participate in various signature events and chef-driven dinners on Maui, Hawai‘i Island and O‘ahu, from October 20-November 5. Returning talents will include Ming Tsai (Blue Ginger), Hubert Keller (Fleur by Hubert, Nancy Silverton of (Mozza), Celestino Drago (Drago Restaurant Group) and Charles Pham (The Slanted Door).

“Of all the food festivals that I do around the country,” Pham says, “this is one of my favorite, favorite events.”

Local participating chefs include such notables as Henry Adaniya, Isaac Bancaco, Keoni Chang, Chai Chaowasaree,  Bev Gannon, Vikram Garg, Colin Hazama, Chris Kajioka, George Mavrothalassitis, Ed Kenney, Michael Mina, Alan Takasaki and Troy Terorotua.

“What Roy and Alan have done is just amazing for these Islands,” says Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa’s executive chef Sven Ullrich. “It’s just going to get bigger and better. It’s just unreal.”

 “I said right from the start that the only way this was going to work was if it was a world-class,” Yamaguchi asserts. “This year we’ve got more than 100 chefs from all different parts of the mainland and the world. It’s definitely world class.”

Attending last year’s event at The Modern, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell praised organizers for promoting Hawaiʻi. “Look around me; look at the crowd, theyʻre still here,” he said. “I think there’s a huge demand for this type of event. I know it’s going to be around for 10, 15, 20 years. It’s a very cool event and it’s something that defines us as people from Hawaiʻi.”

And that’s the point.

“Visitors come to Hawai`i for natural beauty, diverse experiences and our aloha spirit,” says Roy Yamaguchi, who co-chairs the event with Wong. “We want to make sure that Hawai‘i’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.”

“We’re putting the spotlight on Hawaii agriculture, and drawing attention to the Hawaiian tradition of ahupuaʻa and the global issue of sustainability,” Wong says. “Hawaiʻi needs an event like this. It’s all about bringing people to our state.”

Seventh Annual Hawaiʻi Food & Wine Festival

October 20-November 5

Themed Evenings

Global Street Food at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa (October 21); Lucky at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa (October 22); Return of Cuisines of the Sun at Waikoloa Marriott Beach Resort & Spa, Hawaii Island (October 22); Raw & Wild in the Tank at Our Kakaako (November 1); Spice Market at The Modern Honolulu (November 2); Uncorked at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center (November 3); Steamy Bowls at Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa (November 3); Taste of the Seasons at Ko Olina Resort (November 4); Food Fight & Bloody Mary's at Outrigger Reef Waikīkī Beach Resort (October 30); and Seventh Annual Halekulani Culinary Masters Gala (November 5).

For a complete list of participating chefs and for more information, visit www.hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com.

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