Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival
The Hawai’i Food and Wine Festival is an exciting weekend overflowing with epicurean delights. The point of the festival is to highlight Hawai’i flavors and cuisine that are unique to the region, with the hope of introducing mainland chefs to the vast array of raw materials that are available in Hawai’i. The nation’s leading chefs, mixologists and winemakers descend upon Oahu to work their magic on local ingredients, (and those of us who get to taste them!). The festival featured some of our favorite chefs from Los Angeles and New York, including Nancy Silverton, Celestino Drago, Sang Yoon, Ricardo Zarate and Jim Meehan. The international coalition of chefs, bar craftspeople and winemakers turned Hawaiian raw material into incredible works of edible art.
The weekend is filled with educational events and evenings full of sampling exquisite food, wine and cocktails. The event that best sums up the mission of the festival was a Saturday afternoon event called Pa’ina on the Pier. This event aimed to showcase the flavors and purveyors of unique Hawaiian grown food. It was inspiring for us mainlanders to be able to learn more about the exceptional flavors of Hawai’i. From Kona coffee to the ripest, most richly colored mangos to beef to tuna for the ubiquitous poke dishes throughout the islands. This was literally a food paradise. We sampled coffee, grass fed beef, chocolate, cheese, spices and more. We learned about finger limes, which taste like lime but look and feel like caviar. If you really want to impress your friends and family, feed them a dish with finger lime, perhaps use as a garnish for seared tuna. What you expect and what you taste are delightfully distinct.
We had the good fortune of running into some of our favorite local chefs and got to know a few that we hadn’t met before. Los Angeles dining veterans Nancy Silverton and Celestino Drago were on hand and we reminisced with Celestino about his original space in Santa Monica. He assured that he was doing great business at his downtown and Beverly Hills locations. Nancy is busy expanding her Osteria Mozza empire. Her next location will be in downtown San Diego. She’s excited for the mellow vibe of that city. We also chatted with L.A. based chefs Ricardo Zarate and Sang Yoon. Sang had us cracking up with his stories of being kicked out of cooking school….twice, and how after years of success at Father’s Office and the successful launch of Lukshon in Culver City, he is still not sure if his parents are proud of him. Ricardo Zarate is also a hoot, and we can’t wait to try his new Peruvian restaurant in Marina Del Rey, named Paiche. He is such a happy person. It’s no wonder that he’s so successful.
The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival is an absolute blast. If your annual travel plans include a visit to Hawaii then why not line up your timing with next year’s festival happening August 31 – September 7, 2014? You’ll have a grand time.