Archive for September, 2012

HFWF Day 1: Enter the MODERN Dragon

September 12th, 2012

hfwfdragonNadine Kam photos
Marking the Year of the Dragon, the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival aimed harness some of the creature's power of energy and prosperity for the benefit of diners, culinary education and pursuit of sustainability.

Last year's inaugural Hawaii Food & Wine Festival got off to an impressive start, feeding more than 1,000 foodies—many who showed up at more than one event—and welcoming more than a dozen celebrity and master chefs, plus winemakers, master sommeliers and mixologists, who joined homegrown talent on stage and under the stars for what eager participants considered food heaven.

Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, early news was that the second HFWF would feature double the star power, and the event delivered, with 63 participating chefs, four master sommeliers, representatives from 11 wineries, eight mixologists, three sake brewers, 24 farmers and food distributors.

The event opened Sept. 6 with "Enter the MODERN Dragon: Morimoto & Friend" at The Modern Honolulu. Unfortunately for me, the event coincided with Fashion's Night Out at Ala Moana Center, where I spent two hours at fashion shows before zipping down the street. It was much easier last year when the event started in October, far from the biggest fashion week of the year, coinciding with the start of New York Fashion Week. Most people I know picked one or the other. Only a few ADHDs like me tried to do both over four days.

Figuring VIPs were eating since 5 p.m., I wondered whether, at 7:30 p.m., there would be any food left to sample. It's not like you can even hit the ground eating while trying to take pictures, gabbing, etc. While hitting up my first three stations, I heard from about four people that Chai Chaowasaree's abalone was the best dish of the evening. The last person said he'd stopped serving but he had a secret stash and surely I would be able to wrangle a piece.

hfwfgogiRoy Choi of Kogi BBQ and Chego, in L.A., takes a break from slicing pork belly.

Alas, the secret stash was just legend, but what I had was a lot of ceviche-style dishes, delicious pork belly from Kogi BBQ's Roy Choi, and I caught one of the last plates of Ming Tsai's foie gras fried rice.

With stations shutting down fast, students from the Culinary Institute of the Pacific, who were assigned to assist the chefs, were gravitating over to friends' stations, and I overheard them telling each other, "My chef swears a lot!"

"So does mine!"

Welcome to the real world, kids!

hfwfchaiThe Slanted Door's Charles Phan, left, and Michelle Mah with Chai's Island Bistro's Chai Chaowasaree.

Later, I caught up with executive director Denise Hayashi, who explained, regarding the new timing of HFWF, that they also have to make sure they're not competing with Food & Wine magazine's New York City Wine & Food Festival for chef talent. But understanding the conflict, she said they'll try to push HFWF a little later next year. Crossing fingers.

Funds raised from the event will benefit culinary education in the islands, as well as organizations working toward long-term sustainability and agricultural integrity. This year's beneficiaries are: Hawai'i Agricultural Foundation, Culinary Institute of the Pacific, Leeward Community College, Paepae o He'eia, and Papahana Kuaola.

Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ and Chego, in L.A., takes a break from slicing pork belly.

hfwf4Co-founder Roy Yamaguchi, third from left, welcomed special presenter Adam Richman of "Man vs. Food," Sang Yoon of Lukshon and Father's Office in Culver City, Calif., and Neil Hannahs of Kamehameha Schools.

hfwffishContemporary ceviche from Sang Yoon.

hfwf1Stacked avocado and hamachi from chef Scott Toner of the Modern Honolulu.

hfwffritterApple fritter topped with fruit and greens.

hfwfwongCo-founder Alan Wong and entourage.

hfwfmingMing Tsai, with his foie gras fried rice plus ahi, below. I got one of the last plates.


hfwfonoFor dessert, Josh Lanthier-Welch was offering several flavors of OnoPops, including an off-the-menu milk chocolate paleta.

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