KAPALUA - Since 1981, the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival has been educating and nurturing the appreciation of fine wines from around the world along with the cuisines of Hawaii. This is one of those "lucky we live Maui" opportunities that epicures should partake of at least once.
It was first known as the Kapalua Wine Symposium, and its commitment to wine education and enjoyment was unparalleled. As one of the longest-running events of its kind in the nation, Kapalua Wine & Food Festival has ripened to perfection and grown to incorporate celebrity chef cooking demonstrations, elegant winemaker dinners and two signature evening galas.
This year, The Grand Tasting will return to iconic Kapalua Bay as the opening event hosted by the new Montage Kapalua Bay. It will be staged on the oceanfront Pacific Lawn, which boasts spectacular views of Lanai and Molokai. On Friday, June 13, from 6 to 9 p.m., six Kapalua Resort chefs and restaurants will showcase their culinary talents with locally grown produce at the tasting.
The Grand Tasting at the new Montage Kapalua Bay will feature cuisine by six Kapalua Resort chefs and restaurants and premium and rare wines from Italy, New Zealand, California and Washington. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE KAPALUA WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL.
Host Chef Riko Bartolome, executive chef of Montage Kapalua Bay, remarked, "We are honored to be hosting The Grand Tasting. I truly enjoy the opportunity to cook at such a marquee event along with a well-versed group of chefs. More importantly, this opportunity allows us to finally share our historical yet auspicious location with kama- 'aina and visitors alike."
Chef Bartolome will serve a Keahole Lobster Panna Cotta in verrine with panzanella salad. He'll also unveil a Sea Urchin & Crab Arancini with roasted Maui onion, pickled pineapple and fennel salad. Be sure to save room for this tantalizing dessert: Chili Pepper Chocolate Mousse Cake with hazelnut streusel and chili sauce.
From Restaurateur Peter Merriman and the chefs at Merriman's Kapalua, try Kauai Prawns a la Plancha in chermoula with soft polenta, and for dessert, Wailua Chocolate Pot de Crme with lilikoi curd.
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua will present dishes from two restaurants. From The Terrace Chef-Crafted, Executive Chef John Zaner will bring Seared Sea Scallops with spiced butternut squash and candied bacon as well as Curry-Cumin Lamb Burgers and breaded butter pickles. Kai Sushi chefs will serve Kalbi Filet with sesame-pickled vegetables in Maui onion tempura, and Hamachi Tartar with avocado in citrus ponzu.
Pineapple Grill Executive Chef Aaron Palone will feature Asian Braised Short Rib with Kalbi Demi-glace, fingerling mashed potatoes and parsnip chips. His Ahi Sashimi will be served with lilikoi shave ice, Kaffir lime pearls and coconut flakes.
Culinary creations from Chef de Cuisine Jojo Vasquez of The Plantation House include Shrimp and Portuguese Sausage touffe with creamy scallion polenta, and Kula Strawberry and Tomato Gazpacho served with Surfing Goat Dairy cheese and toasted hazelnuts.
Master Chef Brent Martin from New Zealand will showcase barbecue dishes, and Whole Foods will serve tapas.
Of course, the spotlight will also be on celebrated wineries and their premium and rare wines from Italy, New Zealand, California and Washington. Braida, Spy Valley, Roar and Northstar are a few of the dozens being featured.
For a grand finale, young 'ukulele virtuoso and YouTube sensation Aidan James will entertain. Grand Tasting tickets are available for $150 for Hawaii residents and $160 for adults.
On Sunday, June 15, from 6 to 9 p.m., The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua will host the Seafood Festival on its scenic Beach House Lawn fronting D.T. Fleming Beach. This event is always a lively party and outstanding showcase of Maui's top chefs. Maui No Ka 'Oi Magazine sponsors a "Best of Fest" award for the audience's favorite dish. On stage, headliner entertainment will be local favorite Nuff Sedd.
New Zealand Master Chef Martin will prepare Abalone Bao Buns with cabbage, coriander, onions and Hoisin lime aioli. Up-and-coming chefs from Maui Culinary Academy will serve a Seafood Hot Dog with roasted tomato jam and caramelized Maui Gold Pineapple relish, and Dashi Shave Ice with shichimi-cured fish and buckwheat noodle salad.
Restaurants competing for the festival award include: Morimoto Maui at Andaz - Wagyu Beef Carpaccio and Hamachi Tacos; Ka'ana Kitchen at Andaz - Grilled Tako, Wild Boar and Pai'ai Foccaccia with Surfing Goat Dairy Cheese; MiGRANT at Wailea Beach Marriott - Migrant Luau with luau leaf, butterfish and lomi lomi salmon; Mala at Wailea Beach Marriott - Ahi Bruschetta; Alan Wong's Amasia at Grand Wailea - Madras Kona Kampachi, and Kona Kampachi Crudo; Gannon's Wailea - Albalone and Giant Surf Clam Corn Dog with Kennebec Fries, and Raw Raw Salad; Makena Beach & Golf Resort - Malama Farms Kurobuta Pork Cemita and New Style Ahi Sashimi; Pulehu, an Italian Grill at The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort - Hawaiian Smoked Baccala Arancini, and Squid Pasta Salad; Roy's Ka'anapali - Olive Oil Poached Mekajiki; Japengo at Hyatt Regency Maui - Thai Essence-Butter Poached Kona Lobster, and Kazrese Ahi; Star Noodle - Sake Poached Mahi Mahi with a Thai Green Curry, and Scallop Compressed Watermelon Poke; Pacific'O - Shrimp & Grits, and Kona Kampachi Crudo; Kai Sushi at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua - Baked Scallop and Crab Dynamite Roll, and Ahi Tataki; and The Terrace Chef-Crafted at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua - Crisp Opakapaka & Shrimp Shomai, and House-Smoked Salmon Tartar.
Seafood Festival tickets are $150 for Hawaii residents and $160 for adults. Go to kapaluawineandfoodfestival.com to see the full event schedule.