Beachside barbecues are what summer’s all about. Most places in the nation are just getting warmed up, but here on Maui–where the barbecue goes 24/7–there’s something special about summer and the grill. Grand Wailea seems to get this, because they’re creating a new food festival around American barbecue traditions. They’ve invited the nation’s best BBQ chefs to join their own culinary crew to share in Fire It Up, a grilled and smoked meat fest.
Grand Wailea’s chefs will serve as the host team, with Executive Chef Ryan Urig at the helm. His team includes Executive Sous Chef Jorge Gonzalez, Executive Pastry Chef Christian Brassfield, Chef de Cuisine at Humuhumunukunukuapua`a Mike Lofaro and Chef De Cuisine of Bistro Molokini Adam Rzeczkowski. Urig will prepare wild boar chili, Kualoa Ranch Oysters Rockefeller and Maui Beer Can Puna Chicken. Gonzales is all about Mexican street stand essentials: pork carnitas tacos, roasted corn and Maui fruit. Brassfield is sticking to the sweet stuff with adult s’mores, cobbler and cornbread. Rzeczkowski will channel South America with Argentinian rotisserie goat and fire roasted Molokai sweet potatoes. And Lofaro will make the passed pupus.
Then there are the cocktails by John Tiogo, the Grand Wailea’s Beverage Manager and resident mixologist. He’ll complement the cuisine with Bourbon, Tequila and wine, and the Grand Wailea’s exclusive brew, the signature Gose beer by Maui Brewing Co. The evening will also have live entertainment by Makana and other special guests. Word is Chef Hubert Keller from Las Vegas will also moonlight from his barbecue to DJ. There will also be interactive activities for the keiki.
Each participating celebrity chef has a deep connection to barbecue. Their stories and style on the grill will make this summer beach party like no other…
Chef Sam Jones @skylightinn
Sam Jones Barbecue, Winterville, NC
Jones has barbecue in the blood. He’s a third generation barbecuer from a family that has been recognized with the James Beard award for “America’s Classics.” The Jones family Skylight Inn in North Carolina has been open since 1947 and is renowned for its wood cooked eastern North Carolina style of barbecue and whole hog barbecue. Jones opened his own BBQ joint a year and a half ago to carry on the future of legendary North Carolina barbecue for a modern take on his traditional NC pitmaster upbringing. Jones will be cooking a whole pig and making Caroline Pork Sliders.
Chef Sheldon Simeon
Unlike the other celebrity chefs, Simeon doesn’t have to fly in. Most of us have followed his illustrious career–two seasons on Bravo’s Top Chef, James Beard nominations and several other culinary accolades. Simeon’s upbringing in Hilo, culinary education, internship at Disney and stints at Star Noodle, Migrant and more have forged a fusion master. Simeon’s love for local cuisine and ability to modernize it for the contemporary palate and remain true to his roots created a huge fan base locally and abroad. He’ll grill whole fish in ti leaf and cook them on hot lava rocks, like islanders before him have done for centuries.
Chef John Tesar @chefjohntesar
Knife, Dallas, TX
Another two-time contestant on Top Chef, Tesar has turned the Texas steakhouse scene on its head with his highly acclaimed Knife Steakhouse. Knife has established itself as a top steak destination in just three years and is expanding throughout the country as well as giving birth to the Knife burger and Knife butcher shops. Tesar sought to elevate the steakhouse game with his in-house dry aging process; he’s also sourced his beef from nearbyTexas farms like Heartbrand and 44 Farms. His philosophy and insight is valuing hard work and integrity while embracing growth and new experiences. He’ll make beef ribs and octopus.
Chef Billy Durney
Durney has been smoking meat since he was a kid at his grandparents’ cabin in rural Pennsylvania. His first calling was 20 years in the security and private protection field, working with plenty of our nation’s most public figures. He says on his downtime from the high-stress, travel-heavy job he would sit in the backyard, drink bourbon, smoke cigars and cook meat in his little 18-inch Weber bullet smoker. It was trial by fire when he picked up his Brooklyn restaurant in 2013; days later, the neighborhood was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. He took to his one working smoker at Hometown Barbecue and cooked thousands of pounds of meat for the devastated and hungry residents. Durney will cook Korean ribs, Vietnamese chicken wings and Pastrami bacon.
Chef Hubert Keller @ChefHKeller
Keller is a jack of all trades in the culinary world. From Alsace in France, where his family lived over his father’s Patisserie Keller, he knew he wanted to be in the business by age 16. From mentoring with some of the greatest French chefs to opening Sutter 500 in San Francisco in 1982, to stints at the Clinton White House, James Beard awards and judging Top Chef shows, he continues to garner acclaim. Fleur in Las Vegas offers French cuisine with an international flair on small plates at the Mandalay Bay. Taking notice of our American obsession with burgers, he opened the popular Burger Bar Restaurants in Las Vegas and San Francisco. But he’s also recognized for championing vegetarian cuisine and cooking with a healthy focus. He’ll make Truffle burgers and wowing the crowd with his DJ skills.
Chef Justin Brunson @justinbrunson
Brunson is an inspiration in sustainable proteins and butchering. Raised in Iowa on a farm, his agricultural upbringing molded his passion for heritage-raised meats, sustainable seafood and local farm sourcing. After graduating from Scottsdale’s LeCourdon Bleu in 2001, he did his internship at Michael’s at the Citadel with Chef Michael DiMaria. In 2004, he moved to Denver and to open Zengo with Richard Sandoval. By 2008, he was opening his own business, Masterpiece Delicatessen. From there he launched Denver Bacon Company and opened a second Masterpiece location. In 2013 he opened Old Major, his concept on farmhouse cuisine. Two years later his love of fried chicken inspired Red Rooster, a daytime pop-up in the bar of Old Major. Most recently he opened Masterpiece Kitchen, which offers a menu inspired by his other three restaurants, and Culture Meat and Cheese shop with meat and cheese boards and handcrafted sandwiches. Brunson will create a wood-grilled Colorado lamb with Harissa and cucumber Tzatziki.
Fire It Up! will take place at the Grand Wailea’s Molokini Gardens on Saturday, July 8 from 5-9pm. Tickets are $150 per person. Guests can also purchase VIP tickets for $250 per person; they include 30-minute early entry, a dedicated VIP section and swag bags. Tickets for children ages 5-12 are $75, while children under five are allowed in free. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite at Fireitup.eventbrite.com.
For more information about Fire It Up!, go to Grandwailea.com.