KAANAPALI - Bring together the fresh abundance offered by Maui's farmers, ranchers and fishermen, drop a dozen of Maui's finest resort chefs into the bounty, and you've got a party going on!
"Kaanapali Fresh," the signature event of the Kaanapali Beach Resort Association, is a celebration spanning three golden days of fun, food and wine on the famed crescent beach against the backdrop of Pu'u Keka'a (Black Rock).
The third annual event on Aug. 29, 30 and 31 will feature a vibrant new lineup with some super fresh twists.
New this year, the 'Aha'aina O Kaanapali on Friday welcomes guests with a deeply meaningful Hawaiian ceremony on the beach at sunset. Lahaina's newly launched double-hulled voyaging vessel, the Mo'okiha o Pi'ilani, will lead a flotilla of canoes to the shores of Kaanapali Beach, to be greeted by traditional Hawaiian chants and an exchange of gifts from sea and land.
The ceremony is the graceful beginning of a culinary journey through three distinctive ages of Hawaiian cuisine.
First is Old Hawaii, featuring the clean, natural flavors of fish, seaweed, sweet potatoes and taro; then the Golden Era, with the savory taste of farm-raised beef and pork, and sweet golden pineapple; and lastly Modern Hawaii, offering the innovative blend of exotic seasonings and cultures of today's Hawaii Regional Cuisine.
Along the journey, guests will be entertained with Hawaiian music, hula and chant from Maui's award-winning entertainer Napua Greig and Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka.
'Aha'aina O Kaanapali is set for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa. Tickets are $89.
Mix it up on Saturday with the popular "Fresh Mixology 101: Kaanapali Craft." This "marriage of libations spirited and brewed" is just as fun as it sounds: a chance to watch master mixologists talk about and shake up the colorful cocktails that have won them awards statewide.
Chandra Lucariello, director of mixology for Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawaii and vice president of the United States Bartender Guild Hawaii, will share her story of how craft beers are integrating with classic cocktails. Freddie Sconfienza of The Westin Maui Resort & Spa will whip up the Hokulani/Heavenly Star and Dragonberry Bomb - concoctions that have twice won him the title of Starwood Hotels & Resorts' Star Mixologist.
Creatively infused cocktails in hand, guests will enjoy a delicious lunch prepared by the talented chefs of the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, served on the resort's Ocean Lawn. "Fresh Mixology 101" is slated for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $42. This event sells out early!
Saturday evening brings the signature culinary event: "Kaanapali Fresh Food & Wine Festival from Range to Sea." Within the ancient Hawaiian ahupua'a (land to sea) system, Hawaiians followed a model of truly "green" living.
For this memorable dining extravaganza, chefs and restaurants will follow that ancient model, collaborating in a showcase of culinary sustainability that uses the island's harvest from the range, farms and sea. Grass-fed beef, pork and lamb, island fish, ripe fruits and vegetables all combine to create an unforgettable taste experience. These mouth-watering treasures will be expertly paired with boutique wines from the world's leading vintners.
To add extra sparkle to the evening, Kamakakehau Fernandez, a celebrated Hawaiian trio, and Hapa (one of Hawaii's most popular duos of contemporary times) will perform for diners' pleasure. This event will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Royal Kaanapali Golf Course's scenic third hole. Tickets are $185.
The weekend wraps up with a big-time spectacle at the beachfront "Kitchen Stadium Under the Maui Moon." Six renowned chefs will prepare a six-course menu highlighting Maui-grown products.
This second annual dinner is a prelude to the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival on Oahu, co-chaired by venerable chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong. The gala dinner is from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa's open-air Napili Gardens.
What's the secret to all this incredible food? Incredible people. Guests can meet the folks behind the food at the Grown on Maui Farmers' Market on Saturday from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Whalers Village.
Local farmers and food producers will brighten the Kaanapali Beachwalk with displays of sweet ripe mangoes, rainbows of fresh farm vegetables, huge hands of apple bananas, Maui Gold Pineapple, crisp greens, free-range eggs and more. Sip a free sample of coffee from MauiGrown Coffee and Maui Coffee Growers Association members, and enjoy chef-prepared edibles while you shop. Parking is free with validation from the market.
For a chance to see first-hand how all that good stuff is grown, guests are invited to take a Maui farm tour - many of which will be offered throughout the weekend.
Shelley Kekuna, executive director of the Kaanapali Beach Resort Association, thinks of Kaanapali as more of a "lifestyle" than a geographic location.
"Within our diverse community of visitors, owners and residents, we all share and appreciate our Hawaiian cultural roots, our multi-cultural influences, and bounty of Maui's farmers and the magic of Kaanapali's resort chefs," Kekuna said.
"This weekend is a celebration of what they create every day - unbelievably good food!"
For a complete schedule, or to purchase tickets, visit www.kaanapalifresh.com.