A Festival of Culinary Delights
Memorable cuisine adds greatly to a memorable vacation, and in Hawai`i, dining is one of the true pleasures of your stay.
For guests staying in Waikoloa Beach Resort, there are more than 30 dining options scattered throughout the resort, serving everything from deliciously prepared and exceedingly fresh seafood to pizzas and burgers to local-style barbecue to ethnic favorites. Venues range from sit-down meals in scenic settings, to grab-and-go snacks and fast food for busy schedules.
Four years ago, to celebrate the excellence and diversity of Hawai`i’s cuisine, two of the Aloha State’s most prominent chefs, Roy Yamaguchi (Roy’s Restaurants) and Alan Wong (Alan Wong’s Restaurants), launched the Hawai`i Food & Wine Festival. Noted for bringing together the “who’s who” of internationally acclaimed master chefs, master sommeliers and top-tier winemakers from Hawai`i, the mainland U.S., Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan, this year’s Festival takes place August 29 – September 7.
The big news for Hawai`i Island this year is that the opening night of the Festival (Friday, August 29) will be held at Waikoloa Beach Resort. Themed “Aloha ‘Āina, Aloha Kai — Love of the Land, Love of the Sea,” the six-course sit-down gala dinner is being held at Waikoloa Beach Marriott in partnership with Hilton Waikoloa Village.
“With strong support from Hawai`i’s hospitality and visitor industry, the Hawai`i Food & Wine Festival is able to continue to expand to our neighbor islands,” says Roy Yamaguchi. “We hope to bring the Festival and our celebrity chefs to all of the major Hawaiian Islands by 2016 to benefit the Hawai`i’s culinary and agricultural community statewide.”
“With more than half of the agricultural lands in Hawai`i on Hawai`i, the Big Island, there will certainly be a diversity of local products for our chefs to choose from,” says Alan Wong. “With local beef, coffee, abalone and kampachi sourced from Hawai`i Island, we look forward to seeing some great innovation and creativity from our guest chefs.”
Participating chefs at the Waikoloa dinner include Charles Charbonneau (Hilton Waikoloa Village), Jayson Kanekoa (Waikoloa Beach Marriott), Sheldon Simeon (MiGrant restaurant, Maui), Mark & Tedd Pomaski (Full Moon Café, Hilo), Marcel Vigneron (Modern Global Tasting, Inc., Los Angeles), Sherry Yard (Helms Bakery, Los Angeles) and Jenn Louis (Lincoln Restaurant, Portland).
“To have the Hawai`i Food & Wine Festival here at Waikoloa Beach Resort is a true testament to our resort’s commitment to the culinary culture of the island,” says Hilton Waikoloa’s Chef Charbonneau. “Not only will this event showcase the bounty of local produce, meats and seafood, but it raises money for some very worthwhile causes.” Last year, for example, the Festival raised more than $200,000 for local beneficiaries committed to sustainability and cultural and educational programs in Hawai`i. Charbonneau says he also relishes the opportunity to work with other chefs, and points out that several of his kitchen mates that evening were born and raised on Hawai`i Island, giving the event a very authentic flavor.
Chef Kanekoa of Waikoloa Beach Marriott, for example, was born and raised near Waipio Valley on the northeastern shore of the Big Island. Kanekoa says his love of cooking “Hawaiian inspired” foods and flavors comes from his grandfather, a taro farmer who made his own poi. “It’s great to be able to share the foods that I grew up eating with visitors from around the world,” he says.
Among the visiting chefs, Sheldon Simeon, executive chef at MiGrant restaurant on Maui, says he had so much fun at last year’s festival that it was a no-brainer to participate again. “Plus,” he says, “being born and raised on Hawai`i Island, I was very excited to take part in the Friday night dinner. My cooking is influenced by my Filipino heritage. That’s what is super-cool about growing up in Hawai‘i … if you grew up here, you have a sophisticated palette, even if you don’t realize it. You’re familiar with cuisines from all over the Pacific … Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Chinese … all the foods we grew up with. What I’ll be contributing at the Food & Wine Festival dinner is something with a Filipino influence…I guarantee you that!”
Pomaski, who own Full Moon Café in Hilo, are first-time participants in the Hawai`i Food & Wine Festival. They too grew up on Hawai`i Island, and though both eventually left for the mainland, taking separate paths to culinary success, they moved back to Hilo last October. “My brother always says this island is like a pantry for us,” says Mark. “We buy our fish locally, and as much of our produce locally, as well. And, we integrate ourselves into the community, something I learned when working for Roy Yamaguchi. You have to give back.”
The Hawai`i Food & Wine Festival is the perfect opportunity for these talented chefs, emerging and renowned alike, to give back to the Hawai`i Island community, while at the same time showcasing the creative cuisine that helps makes Hawai`i such a special place to visit.