I am always in awe of the all-encompassing community feel of Maui. The way the chefs, farmers, producers on the island work in amazing sync, combining their talents to make magic happen, each happily touting the star-worthy skills of the other. Each year, there are a dozen or so events all over the island showcasing this rich food and drink harmony, celebrations of bites and beverages, from where they’re grown to how they’re prepared, and Ka’anapali Fresh is just one more of those exceptional gatherings.
Celebrating its second year, Ka’anapali Fresh, a cozy weekend-long event, highlighted the hotels and restaurants within Ka’anapali Beach Resort on the island’s beautiful northwest coast. Kitchen crews from the resort’s properties came together for a collection of events, including the ocean side “Grown on Maui” pop-up farmer’s market, a sunset Progressive Dinner with ukulele star Jake Shimabukuro, and the signature closing celebration under the stars, Ka’anapali 5-0.
Additional featured events on the docket: a mixology class with Chandra Lucariello, Director of Mixology for Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawai’i (where I continued to fail at mixing cocktails, a near-science I have yet to master) and a grand lunch, with a full view of the Ka’anapali Beach Resort, catered by chef Christian Jorgenson on the grounds of the Ka’anapali Estate Coffee Farms.
A few of my favorite Ka’anapali Fresh moments:
* Bumping into the island’s most well-known chef at the moment, Sheldon Simeon, formerly of Star Noodle, at the Farmer’s Market.
* A ukulele concert! My first, actually. And not only was Jake Shimabukuro warm and gracious when we met him pre-show, his talent and stage presence left all of us in awe post-show.
* All the food. Really. The dishes were just spectacular, particularly at the Ka’anapali 5-0 evening.
* Finding a few recognizable faces in the crowd, namely my friends from Evonuk Farms, Walter and Terry. I was thrilled to see Walter take the stage at Ka’anapali 5-0 for his farm’s contributions to the evening’s top dish, a “Vietnamese Style” seared Maui Cattle beef created by Hyatt Regency chef, and chair of the weekend’s event, Greg Grohowski.
* Teaching a fellow journalist that the kitchen staffers always know the location of the best after party!
During my visit, I had an incredible stay at the Hyatt Regency Maui, and an opportunity to interview executive chef, and chair of the 2013 Ka’anapali Fresh event, Greg Grohowski. Look for that interview here on Daily Blender in early October.
On my final evening in Maui, I also had a chance to attend the Malama Maui dinner kicking off the 2013 Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival, where chef Simeon, along with Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, and chefs Rick Tramonto, Beverly Gannon and Marcel Vigneron prepared a fabulous meal. Read about those details and events here.
*Photo credit: Jennifer Heigl / Daily Blender