By Nadine Kam
The Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival got off to a great start on Sept. 29, Day 1 of the three-day inaugural event chaired by chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, who made the most of their James Beard connections.
For those accustomed to attending the many culinary festivals around this food-loving town, this one was a step above, thanks in part to the participation of several stellar international chefs.
For the “Streets of Asia: Morimoto and Friends” event presented by Hawaiian Airlines, the Sunrise Pool at the Modern Honolulu was dressed with red lanterns and stations were marked by red banners marked by characters designating such positive aims as “good health,” “abundance” and “good fortune.”
The theme may have been street food but for this crowd it was elevated street fare presented by hosts Roy and Masaharu Morimoto and fellow local chefs Chai Chaowasaree of Chai’s Island Bistro; Hiroshi Fukui of Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas; Scott Toner of The Modern Honolulu; and international chefs Edward Kwon of LAB XXIV, Korea; Mourad Lahlou of Aziza, San Francisco; Charles Phan of The Slanted Door, San Francisco; Justin Quek of Sky on 57, Singapore; and Guy Rubino of Ame, Canada.
The setting for Thursday night’s event, bathed in red light.
Tonight’s sold-out Master Chefs gala dinner at Halekulani promises to be the highlight of the festival with its $1,000 ticket price and fare from Halekulani’s Vikram Garg plus Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys, San Francisco; Robin Lee of Nobu Waikiki; Yoshihiro Murata of Kikunoi, Japan; Nancy Silverton from Mozza, Los Angeles; Alessandro Stratta of Stratta, Las Vegas; and Tetsuya Wakuda of Tetsuya’s, Australia.
You may still be able to pick up $200 tickets to Saturday’s “From Mauka to Makai: Hawaii’s Sustainable Future,” taking place 6 to 9 p.m. at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Ahupua‘a on the Great Lawn. Visit www.hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com.
Many I spoke to at Thursday’s event were so pleased they said they would be back for more on Saturday. The lineup:
John Besh, John Besh Restaurants, New Orleans
Michael Cimarusti, Providence, Los Angeles
Celestino Drago, Celestino Drago Restaurant Group, Los Angeles
Dean Fearing, Fearing’s, Dallas
Michael Ginor, Hudson Valley Foie Gras & Lola, New York
Ed Kenney, Town, Hawaii
George Mavrothalassitis, Chef Mavro, Hawaii
Peter Merriman, Merriman’s, Hawaii
Rick Moonen, Rick Moonen’s rm seafood, Las Vegas
Michel Nischan, Dressing Room, Connecticut
Philippe Padovani, Padovani’s Grill, Hawaii
Jeffrey Vigilla, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Hawaii
Marcel Vigneron, “Top Chef Bravo,” Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen TV, Los Angeles
Alan Wong, Alan Wong’s, Hawaii
Roy Yamaguchi, Roy’s Restaurants, Hawaii
Let’s hope they bring this festival back next year!