Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sustainability delicious at Halekulani

Nadine Kam photos
Patricia Tam, vice president of brand development for Halekulani with the hotel's executive chef Vikram Garg, welcomed guests to "An Evening of Sustainable Cuisine."

Thinking about food sustainability is a luxury when many struggle to simply put a nutritious meal on the table, but it is a topic that should have been discussed long ago, when it might have been possible for a farm industry to thrive and grow with the population.

Living on islands, we're always just one disaster away from being cut off from the rest of the world. If planes couldn't land, if ships couldn't dock, it wouldn't take long for food supplies to disappear.

There are environmental benefits to sustainable cuisine—using products that are grown, harvested and processed with the least amount of impact on the environment—as well, and Halekulani is doing its part to raise awareness through events like "An Evening of Sustainable Cuisne," which took place March 11.

The event, a benefit for the Culinary Insitute of the Pacific at Diamond Head, featured cuisine by Halekulani executive chef Vikram Garg, Roy Yamaguchi of Roy's Restaurants, and Ed Kenney of Town.

The menus were made possible with the support of Big Island Abalone Corp, Kahuku Farms, United Fishing Agency, Nalo Farms, Hamakua Mushrooms, Shinsato Hog Farm and Ma'o Organic Farms.

There was also wine from Hall Winery, California's first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold-Certified Winery, as well as cocktails by Julie Reiner, beverage artist in residence, and herbal and kaffir and acai cocktails from Southern Wine & Spirits. Guests interested in the superfruit could also walk away with a bracelet made with acai seeds distributed to promote VeeV Acai Spirit.

Dishes put on the table proved that working for environmental and social good can be delicious.

Of course one part of sustainability is learning to use and appreciate all the food that comes from one animal, and not just savoring the "good parts." Ed Kenney put diners to the test with his coppa di testa or head cheese. Most people opted for sausage, instead. I passed as well, having come from a nine-course Chinese feast earlier that day.

Sorry, Ed! Maybe next time!

"Hawaii Five-0's" Alex O'Loughlin was there and I asked for a picture, which was OK until someone told him I was from the newspaper. He declined because he said he wasn't dressed for press, baseball cap and all. He looked good anyway and was the nicest guy nevertheless.

Chef Roy Yamaguchi with his team, from left, Jason Peel, Clayton Lau and Jacqueline Lau.

Red veal tartare, Vietnamese style, with cold phó noodles, basil lime aioli and quail egg, from Roy's.

Hawaiian ono sashimi with Hawaiian vanilla vinaigrette, Big Island heart of palm and Kahuku sea asparagus, from Roy's.

Among the dishes served by Halekulani was chilled Kona lobster with a sauce of Sumida Farm watercress and fenugreek butter. It was delicious and the first to run out, so I'm glad I got a taste while I could.

Town's Ed Kenney put his family to work, including daughter Celia and mom Beverly Noa.

Ed served a trio of dishes from one pig, from Shinsato Hog Farm. Shinsato chipolatas was an amazing light sausage, served with Ma'o Organic Farms radicchio and saba lima beans.
Master mixologist and Halekulani beverage artist in residence Julie Reiner created two drinks for the occasion, La Rosa of tequila, amaro, lemon juice, organic strawberry syrup finished with rose champagne, and here, she gives New Orleans Buck a shake. It's a refreshing blend of rum, ginger beer, lime juice, simple syrup and fresh pineapple juice.

Bob and Janice Stanga of Hamakua Mushrooms show a beautiful mix of frilly pepeiao, giant Ali'i and white shimeji mushrooms, plus their newest offering, the Italian pioppini, the smaller brown ones in the midst of the Ali'is and shimejis.

Dean Okimoto's Nalo Farms provided most of the greens served by Roy's and Halekulani for the event. He's with Mandy Nguyen, left, and Vikram Garg's wife Abhilasha Kumar.

From left, Phillip Shaw, Kamu Dickson and Edgy Lee are surrounded by food!

From left, artist Mark Chai, whose at work on a sustainable/recycled art project for Disney Resort. He's with Marianne and Scott Schultz.

Halekulani's ahi crudo with roasted Kahuku corn chaat, dry mango powder and and avocado.

Roy's Hamakua mushroom-wasabi bisque and "sandwich" of ham hock and pioppini mushroom "head cheese." The bisque is topped with truffle foam that hit the senses as soon as one lifted the cup. Yum!

Wines were provided by Hall, California's first LEED Gold certified winery. Also at the table, up for bid was a six-course sustainable private dinner for 10 by all three chefs, with wine pairng from Hall. When I checked the bid sheet, they'd already gotten the minimum bid of $5,000.

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