Food & fashion mix in ‘Paradise’ showcase

May 29th, 2009


Nadine Kam photos
Models in Mamo Howell designs were featured during the Hawai’i Food & Wine Paradise Hana Hou brunch at Halekulani. Fighting Eel also presented a fashion show during one of the foodie events at Ko Olina.

I try not to let my other food life cross over to this blog, but it couldn’t be helped when D. Keola Lloyd, chairman of the Hawai’i Food & Wine Paradise decided to add a fashion element to the annual foodie showcase.

The luxury destination event took place May 21 to 24, and was sponsored by American Express Publishing, which puts out such familiar magazine titles as Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, Departures and Executive Travel.

For such a group, the menu had to be superb and Halekulani Vikram Garg did a great job on the five-course brunch that started with:


Lomi lomi salmon with Hau’ula tomato, sea asparagus, Maui onion and kukui nut.


Seared abalone with Waialua asparagus, shaved hearts of palm and calamansi chili vinaigrette.


Onaga and Kahalu’u pork with raw papaya relish and chimichurri sauce.


Loco Moco featuring grass-fed veal loin, braised short rib, egg, Hamakua mushrooms and rice. My vegetarian tablemates had lovely veggie risotto with Hamakua mushrooms for this course.


And North Shore chocolate sorbet in coconut foam with candy sculpture.

As one of the newest chefs to our islands, Garg brings to a clarity to his dishes that I haven’t seen in a long time locally. It demonstrates (on his part) and allows for full appreciation (on diners’ part) of local ingredients. I think that’s gotten lost over the past decade as newer chefs hoping to emulate the HRC originals have tended to throw every ingredient available to them into dishes, resulting more often than not in muddled messes.

I would like to erase the past decade in food and press restart. In a way, that’s already happening because of the economy. New startups seem to be coming from a smaller, humbler place with more focus on good food than themes or empire building. That’s a good place to start.

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