PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / firstname.lastname@example.org
Denise Yamaguchi, executive director of the Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival, presented checks to 14 culinary, agricultural and community organizations during the festival's mahalo reception Nov. 4, including representatives of Papahana Kuaola.
Behind the celebrity chefs, culinary and cocktail surprises that fuel the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival, there is the original purpose of giving back to the community by helping to grow Hawaii's agricultural and culinary community, and sponsors could see the results during a mahalo reception that took place Tuesday at Neiman Marcus' Mariposa restaurant.
During the event, HFWF executive director Denise Yamaguchi presented checks totaling $254,300 to 14 local charity beneficiaries and announced a multi-year partnership with First Hawaiian Bank and MasterCard to expand global reach and help promote Hawaii as a culinary travel destination. The First Hawaiian Bank Priority Destinations World and World Elite MasterCards will be offering exclusive HFWF product promotions to attendees.
The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival annually gives back to the community by donating event proceeds toward agricultural- and education-oriented awards that help grow the local food community. These are representatives for the 2014 beneficiaries.
In its earliest years, main beneficiaries for the event were Kapiolani Community College's Culinary Institute of the Pacific and the Hawai'i Agricultural Foundation. Today, there are beneficiary schools and organizations on three islands. Since the festival's inception in 2011, started by chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, HFWF has raised nearly a million dollars for local nonprofit organizations.
This year, net proceeds were donated to:
» Culinary Institute of the Pacific, $80,000
» Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation, $70,000
» Leeward Community College Culinary Arts Program, $25,000
» Maui County Farm Bureau, $20,000
» Paepae o He‘eia, $10,000
» Papahana Kuaola, $10,000
» Hawai‘i Island Community College Culinary Arts Program, $7,500
» Maui Culinary Academy, $7,500
» Hawaii Seafood Council, $7,500
» Honolulu Zoo Conservation Fund, $7,500
» Hawai‘i Island Farmers & Ranchers, $5,000
» Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, $2,500
» Hawaii Speed & Quickness, $1,000
» ALS Ohana of Hawaii, $800
Beyond the formality, there was plenty of food and drink on the table, capturing the sustainable, locally grown ethos of the festival. And co-founder Alan Wong received a surprise when a birthday cake materialized in his honor.
Alan Wong was surprised by a birthday cake delivery by Aya Nishihara, and a roomful of people serenading him with the "Happy Birthday Song."
Halekulani executive chef Vikram Garg presents a dish of spicy vegetarian Sloppy Joe a la Inde, to Ritsuko Kukonu.
The Halekulani chef also offered beef kebabs marinated in pomegranate and walnuts.
From Roy's Restaurant came sauteed scallops and below, ahi tartare topped with quail egg.
Not to be outdone by fellow HFWF co-founder Yamaguchi, Alan Wong also offered a delicious duo of open-faced sliders comprising lamb from Ni'ihau, goat cheese and olive tapenade, and below, chili shrimp.
Host chef Marc Freiberg of Mariposa showcased grilled Kurobuta bacon accompanied by hearts of palm puree, kabocha caponata and pomegranate port. One bite later, I regretted promising to share half with a friend.
Also from Mariposa, a salad of kale, hijiki and herb-seared hamachi.
It was a fun evening that set the tone for more exciting partnerships to come in 2015. Next year's event will take place Aug. 29 through Sept. 13. Visit the festival website for updates throughout the year.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.