KAANAPALI - One grows the tomato; the other slices it. One pulls the fish from the sea; the other lays it on the grill. One nurtures the soil; they both nurture the people! The symbiotic relationship of Maui County farmers and resort chefs will take center stage at the third annual Kaanapali Fresh Food & Wine Festival 2014.
Just announced are this year's farmer/chef pairings - a dozen carefully designed match-ups that complement each other's offerings as surely as a crisp sauvignon blanc sets off a seared scallop.
Maui chefs and farmers will collaborate on Kaanapali From Range to Sea, the signature culinary event of the three-day celebration on Aug. 29-31. This epic journey on Saturday, Aug. 30, will follow the ancient Hawaiian model of the ahupua'a, creating a showcase of sustainability from mountains to sea.
Farmer Sylvestre Tumbaga (above) will be paired with Chefs Raymond Nicasio and Greg Gaspar of the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa.
The culinary pairings have been in the works since February, when chefs and farmers came together for an evening of gastronomic discussion on the beautiful oceanside lawns of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. The event featured "speed dating," in which farmers and restaurants met briefly to share information on what types and quantities of seasonal produce they needed and had available.
"The mixer was a really great way for us to develop relationships with chefs," said Walter Evonuk of Evonuk Farms. "It's the first step in increasing the distribution of local food on Maui."
A third-generation farmer, Walter and his wife, Terry Chang, manage 30 acres of farmland in Kula. Culinary herbs are the core of their operation, with over 25 different herbs, as well as gourmet beans and lettuces.
For "KFresh," Evonuk will collaborate with Chef Bobby Masters of Hula Grill. Chef Bobby has been the backbone of Hula Grill and a major part of the Kaanapali restaurant scene for 17 years now. Working with fresh greens from Evonuk Farms, Chef Bobby will create a Kiawe-Grilled Coconut Kale with Panzanela Salad.
Chef Ryan Luckey of another Kaanapali mainstay, Leilani's on the Beach, will team up with Surfing Goat Dairy. Since Thomas and Eva Kafsack opened their simple goat farm nine years ago, it has become one of Maui's top ag-tourism attractions. More than 100 happy goats will add their contribution to the divine-sounding Kahuku Sea Asparagus & Smokin' Tomato Lomi Lomi, with Kiawe Smoked Surfing Goat Cheese and Molokai Sweet Bread Croutons.
Drawing his inspiration from traditional Hawaiian dishes, Executive Chef Tom Muromoto of Kaanapali Beach Hotel will work magic with crisp cabbage from J. Shishido Farm. Long-time Kula farmer Jamie Shishido is widely known and praised for his kai choy, green onions and radishes.
"For Hawaiians, the food was simple and natural," Muromoto said. "It's not necessary to overdo it."
For the event, he'll puree the Won Bok Cabbage with Fried Okra and White Truffle Oil.
Chefs Paris Nabavi and Eduardo Pineda of the new Kaanapali hotspot Sangrita Grill & Cantina will collaborate with Traje Farm. Fernando Traje grows a diverse array of vegetables on his Kula farm, including eggplants, zucchini and green beans. The Sangrita chefs will take Traje's flavorful onions and create a tantalizing Vegetable Ceviche paired with a spicy Chipotle Rotisserie Chicken Tostada.
Other match-ups include:
Chef Joey Macadangdang of Roy's Restaurant will pair with Bryan Otani of
B. Otani Farm.
Chef Alex Stanislaw, with the new DK Restaurant Maui Fish & Pasta, will collaborate with a farmer.
Chef Greg Grohowski of the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa will team with farmer Heidi Watanabe of Watanabe Vegetable Processing.
Chef Bernardo Salazar of the Royal Lahaina Resort will pair with farm-to-plate advocate Kimo Simpliciano and his SimpliFresh Produce.
Chefs Raymond Nicasio and Greg Gaspar of the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa will team with longtime farmer Sylvestre Tumbaga of Syl's Produce.
Chefs Francois Milliet and Wesley Holder of the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas will collaborate with farmer Noel Escobedo of Escobedo Farm.
Chefs Garret Fujieda, Ikaika Manaku and Jennifer Evetushick of The Westin Maui Resort & Spa will collaborate with farmer Geoff Haines of Waipoli Hydroponic Greens.
And Scott McGill, executive chef for TS Restaurants and Signature Food & Wine Festival chef chairman, will collaborate with a farmer to be announced.
"This event cannot be missed," McGill said. "Where else can you watch a Hawaiian sunset, mingle with the state's best chefs and farmers, enjoy a drink, and listen to HAPA jam their tunes? Only at 'KFresh!' "
The live performance of HAPA, one of Hawaii's biggest contemporary duos, is an important part of the bill, showcasing not just extraordinary food and wine but also fantastic live music. Rising star Kamakakehau Fernandez will also take the stage, promising a thoroughly engaging show.
Another highlight of the evening is a silent auction, with hotel and condo stays, dinners at favorite Kaanapali and Maui restaurants, farm/ag tours and fabulous gift baskets up for bid.
Earlier in the day, visitors can meet the source of all that amazing produce at the Grown on Maui Farmers' Market from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Whalers Village.
Following the market is a perfect way to loosen up for the big evening: Fresh Mixology 101. The cocktail demonstration at the Sheraton from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. offers a unique chance to hear from and watch award-winning mixologists at work.
The signature event of the Kaanapali Beach Resort Association, Kaanapali Fresh brims with culinary delights, vineyard specialties, entertainment sensations and memorable Maui moments.
Kaanapali From Range to Sea will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Royal Kaanapali Golf Course's scenic third hole. Tickets are $185 plus tax for this age 21 and over event.
For more information, visit the Kaanapali Fresh Ho'ike (information booth) in Whalers Village, open Monday through Friday, Aug. 25-29, or visit kaanapalifresh.com.