PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / firstname.lastname@example.org
Shep Gordon, left, will be honored for his contributions to Hawaii's food scene during an industry event during an event at the Hyatt Regency Maui. He was serving onion and ginger soup with John Dittmar, of Pinnacle Entertainment.
I was wondering why a putting contest would be part of the 2015 Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival launch party that took place Monday at the Halekulani. All came clear when it was announced of the event's expansion to three days on the island of Maui, with the participation of the Kaanapali Beach Resort Association.
In the fifth anniversary year of the event founded by chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, the festival is expected to welcome more than 10,000 attendees on Hawai‘i island, Maui and O‘ahu over two weeks this fall, beginning Aug. 29. Tickets are available at www.HFWF.me.
Among the four events slated for Maui will the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival Roy’s Annual Golf Classic beginning at noon Sept. 4 on the Kaanapali Golf Course. Tickets start at $600 for the opportunity to tee off with celebrity chefs, winemakers and golf pros, with gourmet food, beer and cocktails available throughout the course.
During last night's event, I showed off my form of one-handed no aim putting that delivers holes in one in the newsroom. Alas, in the newsroom, the cup for the ball is backed against a file cabinet. There was no stopper at the Halekulani so my ball sailed directly over the hole. I guess I don't know my own strength. My second ball veered off immediately to the side, like my bowling form. I don't think I will be golfing during the festival.
Here's what was on the table on Monday:
Pili Group's Mark Noguchi's kajiki-stuffed bread with kako'o roots.
Gooch also presented spicy Ni'ihau eland over soft tofu, with crispy rice and green onions. What's funny is everyone thought they were eating beef, not a genus of antelope.
Guests loved Hank's Haute Dogs mushroom dog. Also offered was a Hawaiian dog with pineapple relish.
Koko Head Cafe's Lee Anne Wong combined the best of both worlds, savory and sweet, with her banana foie gras cake topped with bacon caramel. So good my friend had to have two!
Lee Anne Wong also presented spicy Niihau Ranch lamb laab, or larb, in a lettuce wrap.
Loved this dessert from Halekulani pastry chef Mark Freischidt: coconut centerpiece with lychee sorbet, lime gelée and meringues. So delicate, but flavorful.
Coffee drinkers would probably have preferred Freischmidt's peaberry coffee orb with hazelnut cream center, chocolate biscotti and blueberry crumb.
We could also eat the Halekulani display of chocolate branches accented with gold leaf.
Another Maui highlight will be Hawaiian Airlines Presents Legend of Shep Gordon from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Lahaina. Ticket prices are $250 general admission, $500 for VIP access to the screening of "Supermensch: Legend of Shep Gordon," produced in 2013 by Mike Meyers to honor the man who has coached, counseled, supported and helped many of his friends in the entertainment and culinary industries.
The festival will honor Gordon with a six-course dinner created by six of his chef friends: Robert Del Grande (RDG + Bar Annie, Houston), Celestino Drago (Drago Restaurant Group, Los Angeles), Dean Fearing (Fearing’s, Dallas), Greg Grohowski (Hyatt Maui, Lahaina),Nancy Silverton (Mozza, Los Angeles), Mark Tarbell (Tarbell’s, Phoenix).
In opening remarks, the festival's executive director Denise Yamaguchi said that from the beginning, Roy Yamaguchi stressed the event would not work unless it was world class, so they sought to bring in internationally respected and celebrity chefs who would eventually go home and share word of Hawaii's food scene and bounty of fresh ingredients, produce and value-added products sourced from local farmers, fishermen and food purveyors.
She stressed that lives touched by the event are not exclusive to the industry, but the airlines, hotels, tech companies, media and more.
On Oahu, one of the new events will be an Urban Luau at SALT in Kaka'ako, featuring chefs with connections to the area, including Peter Merriman, who got his start on Hawaii Island, and since has conquered the island chain. He will be opening a new concept at SALT. Other participants are Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, Haili's Hawaiian Food, Helena's Hawaiian Food, Highway Inn, Paepae o He‘eia, and more.
The event will also mark the first-time participation of the Kahala Hotel, which will be hosting an industry event, "Dream a Bigger Dream."
Otherwise, popular events from past years return, including the fifth annual Halekulani Culinary Masters Gala Series: Indulge 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 11 (tickets are $1,000 each); Hawaiian Airlines Presents Corks & Forks Pacific Coast 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 12 at Hawai'i Convention Center; and closing event Beauty & the Feast from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 13 at Ko Olina Resort with Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.
But no event got more of a buzz from the crowd than the unexpected announcement of a yoga and cocktail event on Oahu, with details to come.
With a multi-year partnership with First Hawaiian Bank and MasterCard, those booking events with Mastercard will receive preferred access to select events.
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.