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Kaanapali chefs competing in Maui Onion Challenge

By Staff | May 1, 2012

KAANAPALI – Maui Onion fans, get ready for a huge celebration! On Saturday, May 5, the 23rd annual Maui Onion Festival will be held at Whalers Village in Kaanapali.

Showcasing the creativity of Maui’s finest chefs, the festival will be more dynamic than ever.

After its debut success in 2011, the Kaanapali Beach Resort Maui Onion Challenge returns to join Kaanapali restaurants in a friendly competition to see who cooks up the best Maui Onion dish.

Prior to the festival, the participating chefs offer their onion specials to their customers, be it an appetizer, entree or salad.

Judges will choose the top dishes, and the chefs will compete in a cook-off at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday on center stage. Winners will be announced at noon.

Through May 6, the participating chefs of each restaurant will offer their onion specials to their customers.

Executive Chef Kevin Boyle of Umalu Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Maui presented a delectable, spicy Maui Onion-Ahi Poke Lettuce Wrap, while Hula Grill Kaanapali Chef Chris Schobel offered a Thai-scented Salad Gazpacho, Maui Onion Soup and Pickled Maui Onion.

Chef Bernardo Salazar from the Royal Ocean Terrace at Royal Lahaina Resort contributed an attractive Maui Caramelized Onion Sweet Potato Cake, while Chef Conrad Aquino of Black Rock & Seafood at The Sheraton Maui exhibited his delicious roasted Keahole Lobster with Maui Onion and Taro Gnocchi.

From Pulehu, an Italian Grill at The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, Chef Wesley Holder pleased the judges with his Maui Onion Tortelloni En Brodo.

Chef Jennifer Evetushick from Tropica Restaurant and Bar at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa presented Seared Hamachi with Maui Onion Pad Thai.

Chef James Domingo from Leilani’s on the Beach offered a Caramelized Maui Onion Flatbread, while Kaanapali Beach Hotel Tiki Terrace Chef Christopher Napoleon presented a Pan-seared Opakapaka with Onion Dust and House Spices on Caramelized Onion Gnocchi with Asparagus Tips, Oyster Mushrooms, Kula Sweet Corn and Maine Lobster Meat. It was finished with Butternut Onion Butter Sauce and a touch of Mixed Onion Marmalade.

Chef Ivan Pahk of Cane & Taro submitted a Pan-Roasted Opakapaka and fresh Mafalde Pasta with Maui Onion Jus and local farm fresh Veggies.

Picking one winning chef will be most difficult, as each Maui Onion appetizer we sampled was creative and truly a winner!