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Maui Onion Festival debuts new appetizer challenge

By Staff | Apr 21, 2011

Crispy onion rings are always popular at the Maui Onion Festival.

KAANAPALI — On Saturday, May 7, Whalers Village Fine Shops & Restaurants will host the 22nd annual Maui Onion Festival.

The fun kicks off at 9:45 a.m. featuring celebrity chefs and free food samplings, the best Maui onion recipe contest, keiki and adult raw Maui onion eating contests, food and product booths, local music and entertainment, retail offerings and free parking. These activities continue throughout the day, wrapping up at 9 p.m.

New this year is the Maui Onion Challenge. Scheduled from April 22 to May 6, the challenge has eight Kaanapali restaurants in a friendly competition to see who has the best Maui onion appetizer.

During this time, the general public is encouraged to dine at participating Kaanapali restaurants to taste and score as many of the featured appetizers as possible. Participants will be eligible to win a trip for two between Maui and any nonstop destination serviced by Alaska Airlines. The winning Maui onion appetizer and the trip for two will be announced at 3:30 p.m. at the Maui Onion Festival.

Participating restaurants include CJ’s Deli at the Fairway Shops, Black Rock Steak & Seafood at The Sheraton Maui, Tiki Terrace at Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Cane & Taro at Whalers Village, Pulehu at The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, Tropica Restaurant & Bar at The Westin Maui, ‘Umalu at The Hyatt Regency Maui and Royal Lahaina Resort’s Ocean Terrace. With the exception of CJ’s, all of the restaurants will feature the appetizer on their dinner menu. CJ’s will offer it during lunch. The appetizers are one price: $9.99.

This year’s visiting emcee for the festival is Manolo Morales of KHON 2 News.

Chef demonstrations scheduled throughout the Maui Onion Festival begin with Chef James McDonald of Pacific’o and I’o at 10 a.m.; Chef Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s at 11 a.m.; Chef D.K. Kodama of Sansei and Cane & Taro at 1 p.m.; Chef Brian Etheredge of Capische at 2 p.m.; Chef Eric Arbogast of Cuarto at 5 p.m.; and Chef David Paul Johnson of David Paul’s Island Grill at 6 p.m.

A Tahitian Hula Show at 10 a.m. will kick off the fun at the center’s beach front lawn, followed by “Cooking with Cutty Cutler” at 11 a.m., the Air Force Band of the Pacific at 1 p.m., Magician Brenton Keith at 2 p.m., Benoit Jazz Works at 3 p.m., Island Sounds at 5 p.m., Ribbon on Knowledge at 6 p.m. and an encore performance by the Air Force Band of the Pacific at 7 p.m.

The Whalers Village Center Stage will host the chef demonstrations and the keiki raw Maui onion eating contest. At 3 p.m., all of the chefs will gather for the judging of the Maui Onion Recipe Contest by Carla Tracy, Shannon Wianecki, Chris Speere and Michael Horn.

The adult raw Maui onion eating contest will take place at 4 p.m., followed by a second performance by the Tahitian Hula Show at 7 p.m.

On Friday, May 6, Chef Scott McGill of Hula Grill Kaanapali will present the annual Maui Onion Pairing Dinner featuring a three-course meal highlighting Maui onion paired with beer by Maui Brewing Co. Tickets are sold at Hula Grill; Call 667-6636.

Merchants at Whalers Village will also offer specials. Shoppers may receive a free Maui Onion Festival bag with purchases of $150 or more. Visit www.whalersvillage.com for more information.