Year-Round & Worldwide
The addition of Chef Ryu from South Korea to this year’s lineup is telling, as it represents an expansion that the Festival has envisioned from the beginning. “From the very start, our vision for the Hawai`i Food & Wine Festival was to build a world-class food and wine festival,” Yamaguchi says. “This meant inviting and attracting the best chefs and winemakers to produce the highest quality event that would be comparable to some of our nation’s best food and wine events. After six years, I am proud that we may be able to consider ourselves among the best, having earned a reputation for quality, integrity, and magnitude.
“It was also our vision to include world-class international chefs from Asia in our Festival — something that differentiates us from other festivals across the U.S.,” Yamaguchi says. “Being in the middle of the Pacific, this just made sense for us. It was to bridge relationships between chefs from the East with the West.”
In addition to bridging relationships, Chef Ryu is certain to dazzle Hawai`i Island festival-goers with his world-class cuisine. “Tae is quite a culinarian,” says HFWF co-founder (and Denise’s husband) Roy Yamaguchi. “He is creative and passionate about his cooking. His plates are attentive to detail. He utilizes his skills of modern gastronomy. His food is Michelin-caliber and I can’t wait to see what he’ll create for our festival.”
The Yamaguchis, along with HFWF’s other co-founder, Alan Wong, were recently in South Korea, where they took part in an event on Jeju Island, “Hawaii Meets Jeju,” as part of an outreach program designed to expose contemporary Hawaii cuisine to the world.
“The name Hawai`i is magic to the rest of the world,” Wong says. “We are always warmly received wherever we go. The problem is that the world doesn’t really know about the modern day Hawai`i and the cuisine being served in the state. They continue to think that we put slices of pineapple on hamburgers and pizza and that this is called a Hawaiian hamburger and a Hawaiian pizza.”
Roy Yamaguchi elaborates: “I’ve traveled to over 40 countries through cooking and I’m always welcomed with open arms. People around the world think of Hawai`i as a tropical place of beauty and peace. We’ve really come a long way through food and I think it’s something that we all strive for when we put together Hawai`i Regional Cuisine. As we elevate the level and quality of our food, we’re able to do more to showcase Hawai`i.”