KAPALUA - An extraordinary weekend of epicurean excellence at the 32nd annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival was made even more special following a silent auction that raised over $5,000 for Maui's culinary community.
The funds will benefit the Maui Culinary Academy at the University of Hawaii Maui College and its rising stars who took first place in the "Best of the Fest" competition.
"We are so honored to have this opportunity to support Maui's up-and-coming culinary talent, and what better avenue to do so than the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival," said Tom Donovan, vice president and general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
This year’s Kapalua Wine & Food Festival had record ticket sales and attendance. More than 3,000 bottles of wines and spirits were sampled throughout the weekend. PHOTO BY PAUL JANES-BROWN.
"This year was especially monumental, being that these students took the gold at the 'Best of Fest,' where they were competing with the island's most talented chefs. It's an incredible achievement."
At the weekend festival, over 3,500 oenophiles, gourmands and enthusiasts of the good life came together at Kapalua Resort to celebrate, learn and commune about viniculture and culinary trends.
Highlights of the weekend included a Champagne and Sparkling Seminar with Cheese Guru Kent Torrey of the Cheese Shop in Carmel, California; a sampling of Pritchard Hill wines, the newest hotbed of winemaking in Napa; cooking demonstrations featuring celebrity chefs Gary Danko and Nancy Oakes; and many more unique and memorable tastings.
"Best of the Fest" was another highlight showcasing the vast array of talent on Maui. The evening's winners were: Gold - Maui Culinary Academy for their Takoyashi; Silver - I'o/Pacific'o for their Summer Salad with Pork Belly; and Fan Favorite - The Terrace at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
Festival Host and Master Sommelier Michael Jordan commented, "This year's festival was filled with laughter, smiles, fist-bumps... even tears of joy, when an Australian winemaker placed a diamond band on his wife's finger and declared his undying love for her during his panel on Shiraz! The weather was perfect, the food and wines were delicious, amazing winemakers and guest celebrity chefs were entertaining... And The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua put on the best three-day party I have seen - an event unlike any other! It was the most fun I have had in a long time, and many great lifetime memories were created and shared. It reminded me of an old saying I heard once long ago: 'If you are lucky enough to drink wine beside the sea, you are lucky enough!' "
"Wow, 32 years of great wine, food and relationships, but this year was something special. Every year, we try to make it better than the last, and 32 was no exception... however, wait until 33. We have some great tricks up our aloha shirts," said Donovan.
"This year's unique collaboration of a 'Kapalua-centric' chef showcase on Friday night was an outstanding demonstration of innovative talent within Kapalua Resort."
The 2014 festival is scheduled for June 12-15. Tickets are projected to be on sale after Feb. 15, with a limited number of kama'aina tickets offered through May 31. Visit www.kapaluawineandfoodfestival.com for details.