Top Chefs

September 5, 2013 | By Nadine Kam

Celebrate food, wine and the culinary arts with top chefs from Hawai’i and around the world at this world-class food and wine festival.

In just three years, the annual Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival has earned a coveted spot on globe trekkers’ calendar of culinary destinations.

The event welcomes foodies to taste palate-pleasing dishes and libations created by a “who’s who” of 60 Hawai’i-based and internationally acclaimed chefs, master sommeliers, mixologists and winemakers from Hawai’i, the mainland U.S., Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines and Australia.

New chefs this year include Grant Achatz of Alinea (Chicago), Art Smith of Table fifty-two (Chicago), Chris Cosentino of Incanto (San Francisco), Ricardo Zarate of Mo-Chica (Los Angeles), Anita Lo of Annisa (New York), Floyd Cardoz of North End Grill (New York), Chris Kajioka of Vintage Cave (Honolulu) and Sheldon Simeon of Star Noodle (Maui).

Returning celebrity chefs include “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto of Morimoto, Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu, Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger (Wellesley, Mass.), Charles Phan of The Slanted Door (San Francisco), Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys (San Francisco), Nancy Silverton of Mozza (Los Angeles), Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar (New York), Celestino Drago of Drago Restaurant Group (Los Angeles) and more.

This year, the event started by two of Hawai’i’s James Beard award-winning chefs, Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, will take place Sept. 1 through 9, with five signature evening events and daytime culinary adventures.

For the first time, the festival born on O’ahu will also offer events on Maui, coinciding with the Valley Isle culinary event, Ka’anapali Fresh.

HFWF started with a cause. Both Yamaguchi and Wong have been long-time supporters of Hawai’i agriculture, sustainability, and cultivation of the next generation of island chefs. In two years, the chefs have raised nearly $500,000 for such education- and agriculture-oriented organizations as Kapi’olani Community College’s Culinary Institute of the Pacific, the Hawai’i Agricultural Foundation, Leeward Community College Culinary Program, Paepae o He’eia, Papa-hana Kualoa, Hawai’i Culinary Education Foundation, Maui Culinary Academy and Maui County Farm Bureau.

Wong said the festival was intended to put the spotlight on Hawai’i, bringing in international media to focus on farmers and “get people thinking and talking about Hawai’i,” and most importantly, “to make the kind of sustainable decisions today so our grandchildren’s children can also enjoy the pleasures we enjoy today.”

Beyond culinary events, HFWF’s mission is to familiarize visiting celebrity chefs with island ingredients through tours of local farms, which they then put to practical use. Among festival highlights this year is a Sept. 5 “Fish and Poi” lunch at a He’eia, the site of a historic fishpond and lo’i (taro field) on O’ahu’s windward coast, where participants learn to keep the sustainable culinary practices of ancient Hawaiians alive in the field and on the table.

“Our participants are required to use local ingredients found here in the Hawaiian Islands in the creation of their dishes,” Yamaguchi said. “It’s a key element that sets our event apart from others across the country.”

The chefs’ menus incorporate such diverse fare as pa’i’ai (taro that has been pounded, but not yet fermented like poi), Big Island abalone, Moloka’i shrimp, grass-fed beef, sea asparagus, and inamona (roasted kukui nut meat).

Tickets are available at

Photos: Courtesy Hawai’i Food and Wine Festival


Sept. 5: “Hawaiian Airlines Presents: Under the Modern Moon: Morimoto & Friends”: Savor East meets West dishes prepared by 15 national and international chefs from Asia and the Pacific, led by “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto, from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Modern Honolulu. Tickets start at $200 per person.

Sept. 6: “Halekulani Master Chefs Gala Series: Around the World with Seven Chefs”: This lavish and exclusive seven-course meal with wine pairings takes place 6 to 10 p.m. in the Halekulani Ballroom. Tickets start at $1,000 per person with reserved seating.

Sept. 7: “Taste our Love for the Land”: This event pays tribute to island abundance, with 18 celebrity chefs promoting “farm-to-table” sustainable sourcing and cooking practices. The event at Hawai’i Convention Center runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets start at $200 per person.

Sept. 8: “Savory Ever After”: Sunset finale on the beach at Ko Olina Resort, featuring cuisine by 14 world-renowned chefs will create a culinary tour of ethnic foods from around the world. The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on the lagoon fronting Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa and JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa; and will end with a fireworks display. Tickets start at $200 per person.

On Maui
Sept. 1:
“Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival Presents: Malama Maui”: Food and wine presented by six chefs, including “Top Chef’s” Marcel Vigneron, under the stars, 6 to 10 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali. Tickets start at $250 per person.