HFWF Day 3: From farm to table at the Hilton
Nadine Kam photos
A tray of abalone—prepared by Mélisse, Lemon Moon Café and Sure Thing Burger's Josiah Citrin—ready for deliver to one of the VIP tables at the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival's Day 3 "From Farm to Table: A Makahiki Festival," that took place at Hilton Hawaiian Village Sept. 8.
It may have been raining elsewhere on Oahu, but the sun shined down on Waikiki and evening three of the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival Sept. 8 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where more than a thousand guests dined in the open air.
The event was themed "From Farm to Table: A Makahiki Festival," paying tribute to the Hawaiian harvest season, and highlighting a sustainable future for Hawaii, with 22 celebrity chefs—many noted for promoting “farm to table” sustainable sourcing and cooking practices—enlisted to turn their talents to local produce, seafood, poultry and meat products.
While last year's food was a little meh to me, perhaps a little more familiarity this year was helpful. Many of the dishes were stellar, and when people asked me which was my favorite, I really couldn't pick one. So many were delicious. And unfortunately, with the scope of the selections, I was only able to sample about a third of what was offered.
You would think I would head to the visiting chefs stations first, but with our local chefs offering such dazzling selections near the entrance, I filled up fast. And silly me, the goal is variety, trying as many different dishes as possible, but I liked Hiroshi Fukui's monchong so much that when servers brought a batch to our table, I had a second helping!
For chef groupies, the event is a dream come true. You'd have to make many trips to San Francisco, L.A. and New York to hit up each of the chef's restaurants in person, and even then, the main man may not be around. But here, they were all heavily involved in preparation and giving attention to anyone who wanted to talk food and get a snapshot with these culinary stars.
It was definitely an amazing night to remember!
Jon Matsubara's roasted Kona lobster was one of the many delectables offered up near the entrance to the event, where most of the local chefs were positioned.
Matsubara, of Azure restaurant at The Royal Hawaiian, offers up his roasted Kona lobster with anchovy and marrow butter, topped with sea asparagus, Ewa corn, Ho Farms tomato and baby rocket.
Susan Feniger of Susan Feniger's Street, and Border Grill, served up chilled Korean noodles with grilled skirt steak.
Lee Anne Wong shared two dishes incorporating pa'i'ai, not dissimilar, but 250 years apart in terms of preparation, as she explained in the video near top of page. I particularly loved the way the pa'i'ai picked up the flavor of the smoked marlin in the old-style preparation. Chances are, you'll be seeing more of her soon. She's pulling up stakes from New York and will be moving to Hawaii by next summer.
Wong worked with Daniel Anthony of Mana 'Ai, who was making more pa'i ai on the spot.
Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto, New York, does some heavy lifting, removing fish from a grill.
All the chefs, including Josiah Citrin, of Mélisse in Santa Monica, obliged fans who wanted to have their photos taken with them. Alan Wong's team was there in support of pastry star Michelle Karr-Ueoka, in lei next to Wong, who presented pineapple shave ice with Hawaiian vanilla panna cotta, coconut tapioca, haupia sorbet and fresh shaved pineapple. It was such a resfreshing closer at the end of the evening.
Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu's, right, wasn't cooking on Saturday, but showed up to support his friend Toshihiko Yoroizuka, whose eponymous sweets shop is in Tokyo.
Hiroshi's panko-seared monchong with julienned Big Island ginger, shiso and saikyo miso kim chee sauce, with the crunch of bubu arare was so good, I had a second helping! No wonder I couldn't eat my way through all the stations.
Mark Noguchi served Kuahiwi Ranch flat iron steak with He'eia kalo and salsa verde. He's with Angela Hi'ilei Kawelo, executive director of Paepae o He'eia, a private nonprofit dedicated to caring for He'eia Fishpond. It's one of the organizations benefiting from the event.
Town's David Caldiero and Ed Kenney at work.
Josh Feathers and fan. The chef of Blackberry Farms, Tenn., worked his Souther charm on pineapple and bacon pickled pork belly.
Duck trio, from left, heart, foie gras and duck meat from Michael Ginor of Lola and Hudson Valley Foie Gras. A guy told me it looked delicious, then when I told him what the pieces were, he said he'd pass.
Chef David Burke with one of the Culinary Institute of the Pacific students who was assisting him.
HFWF executive director Denise Hayashi and chef Kelvin Ro.
Enjoying desserts were Lindsay Chambers, left and Sonja Swenson.
Gina and Jake Lambert take a break from eating.
Chocolate mousse and lilikoi dessert from Waialua Chocolate Co.
Toshihiko Yoroizuka's dessert of coconut pound cake built with slivers of toasted coconut, topped with Hawaiian salt ice cream, and surrounded with diced pineapple and macadamia nuts.
A centerpiece of herb garden favorites graced tables.