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Celebrity chefs gathering for 25th Maui Onion Festival

By Staff | May 1, 2014

Chef James McDonald will show how to make Smoked Nairagi with Picked Maui Onions and Mango Coulis at 11:30 a.m. on center stage.

KAANAPALI – On Saturday, May 3, Whalers Village Shops & Restaurants in Kaanapali Beach Resort will host the Maui Onion Festival. The event showcases the Valley Isle’s own signature crop: the world-famous Maui Kula Onion.

Now in its 25th year, the festival continues to stimulate the creativity of Hawaii’s leading chefs and draw crowds for free culinary samples.

The festival offers residents and visitors the opportunity to learn about Maui’s most famous vegetable with an all-day schedule that turns the spotlight on onions.

Festivities also include music and entertainment at center stage and the beach front lawn. The day begins at 10 a.m. and won’t end until after dark. Free parking will be available at Whalers Village.

The festival welcomes back the Maui Onion Challenge, a final competition for Kaanapali Resort chefs. The challenge features chefs from Kaanapali restaurants engaging in a friendly competition to see who can create the best Maui Onion dish.

The Keiki Maui Onion Eating Contest will be held at 3:30 p.m., followed by adults at 4 p.m. PHOTOS BY REFLECTIONS PHOTOGRAPHY.

A semifinal competition held at Roy’s Restaurant Kaanapali narrowed the field to half; four chefs will participate in a cook-off at Maui Onion

Festival. The finalists include Joey Macadangdang of Roy’s Restaurant, Ryan Luckey of Leilani?s on the Beach, Jared Krausen of ?Umalu at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa and Alvin Savella of Ocean Pool Bar and Grill at The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas. Beginning at 10:30 a.m., a panel of judges will score the four entries. The winner will be announced at noon on center stage.

The well-established, educationally mesmerizing Maui Onion Recipe Contest asks Hawaii celebrity chefs to demonstrate their creative culinary skills step by step. Judges subsequently rate each dish.

Throughout the day, chefs are onstage for demonstrations and the event’s Recipe Contest. With each demonstration, chefs offer samples for the general public.

The lineup is Mark “Gooch” Noguchi of the Pili Group at 10 a.m. (Charred Maui Onion, Kupa’a Farm Potato, Bacon Jam, Sauce Romesco), Chris Kulis of Capische? and The Market by Capische at 10:45 a.m. (Maui Onion Gnocchi, Caramelized Maui Onion Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Kula Onion Confit), James McDonald of Aina Gourmet Market and The Feast at Lele at 11:30 a.m. (Smoked Nairagi with Picked Maui Onions and Mango Coulis), Jojo Vasquez of The Plantation House at 12:15 p.m. (Stuffed Maui Onion Risotto with Adobo Glazed Pork Belly), Sheldon Simeon of Mala Wailea and MiGRANT at 1 p.m. (French Onion Tsukemen), and returning champion Nick Mastrascusa of Kuki’o at 1:45 p.m. (Maui Onion Caprese Salad, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Truffles, Balsamic Onion Conserva).

Whalers Village will host the 25th annual Maui Onion Festival on Saturday, May 3. Spotlighting the world-famous Maui Onion, the popular event will feature all-day entertainment, keiki and adult Maui Onion Eating Contests, cooking demonstrations by Hawaii celebrity chefs (including Sheldon Simeon, above) and a recipe competition, food booths and vendors showcasing onion products. PHOTO BY REFLECTIONS PHOTOGRAPHY

Other events at center stage include the Mix Drink Contest at 2:30 p.m., Keiki Maui Onion Eating Contest at 3:30 p.m., Adult Onion Eating Contest at 4 p.m., Recipe Contest at 4:30 p.m. and a Tahitian Show at 6 p.m.

Events at the beach stage include Cookin’? with Cutty at 11 a.m. with TV celebrity chef Cutty Cutler, the Hyatt’s Drums of the Pacific Luau Show from 12 to 12:30 p.m., Benoit Jazzworks from 1 to 2 p.m., Fred’s Garage from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Air Force Band of the Pacific from 5 to 6 p.m. and Barefoot Minded from 7 to 9 p.m.

Throughout Whalers Village, there will be food booths and vendors showcasing value-added onion products. Other kinds of Maui foods are also available.

If you just can’t get enough of those sweet Maui Onions, on Friday, May 3, Hula Grill K?anapali will host the annual Maui Onion Pairing Dinner. This three-course meal features a variety of onion dishes paired with handcrafted beer made by Maui Brewing Co. Tickets are available at Hula Grill.

Bargreen Ellingson, Maui Brewing Co., Club Wyndam, Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawaii, and the Royal Lahaina Resort are sponsoring the 25th annual Maui Onion Festival. For information, visit www.whalersvillage.com.