Take a Bite

A taste of West Maui at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival 2016

June 14th, 2016

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

From the Hyatt Regency Maui, Japengo sushi chef Jin Hosono took a photo break from serving up his seared kampachi on a mountain yam chip.

Hundreds converged on The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua's Aloha Garden Pavilion for a Seafood Festival June 12, the finale of the 35th annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival featuring 17 restaurants and dozens of wine purveyors.

Funds raised benefit the Maui Culinary Academy, helping to provide scholarships and awards for deserving students, funding student participation in culinary competitions, allowing for purchase of kitchen equipment and enhancing opportunities for study abroad internships in France, China, Korea and New Zealand.

It's apparently money well spent because the students presented a couple of impressive dishes, showing exactly why they deserve such support.

The entrance to the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Beach House Lawn, where the finale Seafood Festival took place.

The Ritz-Carlton had its dessert bar set up right at the entrance so diners knew they would be saving room for desserts of bananas foster, coconut-ginger, chocolate-salt caramel and peanut butter cupcakes with, respectively, infusions of dark rum, Malibu rum, Bailey's and Kahlua.

In addition to cupcakes, Ritz-Carlton executive pastry chef Yoshikazu Kizu was serving up Surfing Goat Dairy chevre and Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream made on the spot with liquid nitrogen, and served with poha berry compote and salted coconut crunch. It was worth saving room for.

From Japengo, chef Hosono's seared kampachi on mountain yam cracker also featured shichimi, ikura, uni, arare, shiso, housemade eel sauce and saikyo miso vinaigrette. It was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.

Not to be outdone, Japengo chef de cuisine Gevin Utrillo had a more local-style offering of "Ono Katsu," a sushi rice cake layered with fish katsu, lobster cream, pomegranate soy and tobiko.

Two more of my favorite dishes came, not from the pros, but students of Maui Culinary Academy, Here, students add cherry wood smoke to a dish of Kumamoto oyster with yuzu gelée and compressed Asian pears. Look out KCC. The students also prepared Kauai shrimp and lemongrass custard with kaffir lime crème fraîche.

Messy looking but tasty, Makena Beach & Golf Resort's butter-poached snow crab and Maine lobster with squid ink gnocchi and black truffle cream.

There was easy access to wines at the center of the venue.

Spago presented its signature spicy tuna tartare in sesame miso cones.

Mark Ellman's Honu/Mala/Frida's trio of restaurants teamed up to offer a kim chee panini and pasta Bolognese.

Pacific'O offered an ahi tartare Napoleon and below, a seared diver scallop over saffron O'o farm beet risotto.

kw scallop

Gannon's offered ginger shoyu oxtail in steamed buns with a malassada and lobster bisque.

After tasting, guests could vote for their favorite restaurant.

———
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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