Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival co-founders, chefs Roy Yamaguchi, left, and Alan Wong, with executive director Denise Yamaguchi, posed for a shot after addressing the crowd at the Modern Honolulu.
Once again, the Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival proved to be a feast for the eyes, mouth, opu and even the ears for those who managed to catch chef Hubert Keller’s stint as a DJ.
The state’s largest food festival opened at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort on Aug. 29 and moved to the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali on Aug. 31 before landing on Oahu, where the event started by chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong began just four years ago.
On Oahu, the festival encompassed a heady four days of farm tours, wine tastings, next-generation kiddie event, Battle of the Brunch chef showdown, and of course, the highlight tasting events featuring cuisine cooked up by our local talent, joined by more than 35 international celebrity chefs.
The charitable event was started as a way of raising funds to benefit culinary education and farming in Hawaii — two issues close to the hearts of the chefs, who have been advocates of sustainability since entering the dining scene a quarter century ago before we really had a word for it.
Back then, it started with supporting the work of farmers and collaborating in bringing something unique and special to the table. Today, it is about so much more: survival, safety, mindfulness, environmental protection, our future. It is about eating local, but the repercussions are global.
This year I was able to make it to two of the signature events, A Lucky Modern Buddha Belly that took place Thursday at the Modern Honolulu, and Corks & Forks on Saturday at the Hawai’i Convention Center.
My pick for food hero was Josh Lanthier-Welch of Ono Pops, who at the Corks & Forks event delivered an amazing Baked Alaska paleta of lilikoi, dipped into Italian meringue, then brûlée’d by torch, for an amazing caramel meets tart citrus flavor, with a fluffy meets creamy texture. So amazing! As soon as I walked into the event, people were raving about it, but I’m not a dessert-first person so decided to check back later. I was a big fan by evening’s end.
Lanthier-Welch said he’s now working on perfecting a Cherries Jubilee pop. Looking forward to it!
Here’s a sampling of what was on the table:
Meanwhile, at the Convention Center:
Steak specialist Johan Svensson of BLT steak offered up beef tartare as luxurious as poke.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.