The culinary fundraiser Project Kokua for Hawaii Island recently raised more than $28,000 to support those impacted by Hurricane Iselle. The fundraiser—held at Maui Tropical Plantation on Sept. 7—was created and organized by Chef Lyndon Honda, owner of Laulima Events & Catering. Honda worked together with Chef Marc McDowell of The Millhouse at Maui Tropical Plantation, Chef Jojo Vasquez of Plantation House and a dedicated group of Maui’s finest chefs.
Do to the immediate need on the Big Island, Project Kokua for Hawaii Island was pulled together in less than a month. More than 300 tickets were sold at $50 a piece. According to Honda, the overwhelming success of the fundraiser was due in large part to generous sponsors and tireless volunteers—in particular, the “amazing” efforts of Janice Simeon and Gabi Masuda.
Simeon, wife of celebrity Chef Sheldon Simeon of Migrant & Mala Wailea, organized 170 silent auction donations for the event. “She spent countless hours over the three weeks making sure it was as smooth as it could be, and it was,” Honda said. “I don’t know how she did it. She met with me early in the morning or late at night to go over what was needed.”
Masuda, who is married to Chef Craig Masuda of Old Lahaina Lu‘au, organized volunteer check-ins, made boxes for tickets and the photobooth, organized the pick-up and drop-off of 400 pounds of ice and handled T-shirt sales. Honda chuckled when he said Masuda ran “all over the event making sure everyone was taken care of, with me telling her what I need all the time and she wanting to ring my neck.” He said, “Mahalo, Janice and Gabi! Both of you are not only incredible mothers but just rockstars in general, with wonderful keiki and a beautiful ‘ohana. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!”
In addition to the eclectic sampling of dishes by Maui chefs and restaurants, the fundraiser featured music by John Cruz, Guy Cruz, Garret Probst and Nestor Ugale Jr. Kainoa Horcajo served as the event’s emcee.
All proceeds raised will go towards relief efforts distributed through Rotary Club D5000 Foundation. Donations are still being accepted from those who wish to support the cause. For more information, please contact Chef Honda at [email protected] or 808-989-4733.
Photo of Chef Lyndon Honda: Sean M. Hower