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Dine amid Lahaina’s rich history at annual Progressive Dinner Party

By Staff | May 5, 2011


LAHAINA — Tickets are now available for one of Maui’s most unique and talked-about dining experiences: Lahaina Restoration Foundation’s Progressive Dinner Party.

Attendees will progress from location to location, enjoying a different course at each site, during the annual event on Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14.

“During the Lahaina Restoration Foundation’s Progressive Dinner Party, you’ll dine at three historic sites surrounded by the rich history of old Lahaina,” said Theo Morrison, the foundation’s executive director.

“They are truly memorable settings to feast on creative gourmet dishes created by acclaimed local chefs especially for this occasion.”

The Progressive Dinner Party also includes a dinner theater show and live music, plus trolley and shuttle transportation between each site with historical narration.

This year’s participating chefs are Mark Ellman, owner of Mala Ocean Tavern; Ryan Luckey, executive chef of The Pineapple Grill; and Sheldon Simeon and Jay Kulukulualani of Star Noodle.

The ticket price includes locally brewed Maui Brewing Co. beer and wines by Chambers and Chambers and Southern Wine and Spirits. There’s also a sumptuous dessert buffet.

“Fine dining outside of the usual restaurant setting, in unusual and memorable settings, is a growing ‘foodie’ trend,” Morrison commented.

“We have these acclaimed chefs preparing special dishes for this occasion, in settings that are just so richly infused with history, it’s almost magical.”

Simeon, a semifinalist in the James Beard Award category of “Rising Star Chef of the Year,” and Chef Kulukulualani will prepare Asian-themed appetizers with a contemporary, local-style twist in honor of the Wo Hing Museum, the setting for the first course. Located at 858 Front St., this two-story Chinese temple was built in 1912 by the Wo Hing Society.

Chef Simeon’s appetizers will include Look Funn (char siu pork stuffed in fresh steamed Look Funn Noodles with chili oil and scallions, Pork Hash Stuffed Mushrooms served with Chinese hot mustard buerre blanc and dark soy sauce, plus Wok Fried Garlic Baby Bok Choy with oyster sauce and fried garlic.

The salad and entree course will be offered at the Old Lahaina Prison, known as Hale Pa’ahao (“Stuck in Irons,” loosely translated). Prisoners never would have dreamed of the kind of meal that will be served at this location during the Progressive Dinner Party.

The salad features freshly harvested, Maui-grown organic greens and vegetables from weFarm in Kapalua. It will be served with fresh-baked, crispy bread from The Bakery.

On Friday night, Chef Ellman will serve a main course of Black River Farms Gold Label Kobe Tenderloin and Local Hawaiian Ahi with organic shoyu and sake sauce and ginger-scented quinoa with pumpkin and black garlic sauce.

On Saturday night, Chef Luckey will serve a main course of Gochujang Grilled Short Ribs and Molokai Prawns, with local baby carrot slaw and spring corn risotto.

During dinner, guests will be treated to a theater show titled “Saturday Night in Lahaina” by Great Scott Productions. The show is based on a song by the same name that is believed to have been created by lonely sailors stationed offshore in the Lahaina Roadstead during World War II.

The late Captain Kenney, a beloved and colorful local resident who transported his artwork in a shopping cart and sold it along Lahaina’s streets, will be portrayed by Chuck Dicker. Other actors will include Robenn Robb, Allen Cohen, Ute Finch, Michelle Nakagawa, Derek Nakagawa, Garrett Probst and Bailey Keller.

Members of Halau Kealakahinano’opuna, led by Kumu Joy Salvador, will also perform. They include Logan Hanohano, Taryn Cabingas and Carley Kimokeo.

Obon dancers will also be in the production, including Alyce Yoshino, Jane Agawa, Mary Nakamura, Carol Inaba and leader Arleen Gerbig.

The final course will be the grand dessert buffet — featuring tantalizing dessert specialties from many of Lahaina’s finest restaurants and resorts — served in the courtyard of the Pioneer Inn.

On Friday night, the Haiku Hillbillies will entertain guests during the dessert course. Live music will also be performed on Saturday night by Rock ‘n Rogues.

“This is our third year of offering the Progressive Dinner; the words we hear most often from guests are ‘magical,’ ‘one-of-a-kind’ and ‘unforgettable,’ “ said Morrison.

“The seats are limited, so we advise everyone to make their reservations early to avoid missing out.”

Purchase tickets for either Friday or Saturday evening. Each evening will begin at 5:45 p.m. at the Wo Hing Museum. The price is $135, all inclusive.

The dinner party is a benefit for Lahaina Restoration Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to faithfully restore, maintain and interpret the physical, historical and cultural legacy of Lahaina, Maui, first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

A portion of the Progressive Dinner Party ticket price, $60, is U.S. tax-deductible.

Dinner reservations are available to adults over age 21 only. Call 661-3262 or visit www.lahainarestoration.org.