The Local Wild Food Challenge, which will take place at Lumeria Maui on Saturday, Nov. 11, is a family run business that holds culinary competitions internationally, showcasing peoples’ ability to forage. The contest originated in Eastbourne, New Zealand, and this year will be premiering for the first time on Maui.
“Maui has so many microclimates and elements on which to draw wild resources from,” said Douglas Drummond, Lumeria’s general manager and director of the property. “We can expect a great range of diversity [in this year’s challenge], given that Maui, as many of the Hawaiian Islands are, is such a great location for the hunter-gatherer pursuit.”
Though the event is technically a competition, the more important aspect of the Local Wild Food Challenge is education–teaching people how to use resources appropriately. The event has an emphasis on humane hunting, and not over-pillaging what our planet has already given us.
The event is, “certainly education focused,” said Drummond. “Offering lots of different talks and demonstrations.” Without giving too much of the surprise away, Drummond said that there “could be cooking classes, could be different approaches to how people are recognizing and honoring the different resources we have available. There will definitely be a strong conservation message that will be present for people to experience.”
The challenge is free to enter as a competitor, with more than 50 submissions right now. Those already signed up include Hawaii innovators like Kimi Werner (champion spearfisher and freediver), Sunny Savage (world traveler and star of the TV series, Hot on the Trail with Sunny Savage), Isaac Bancaco (Chef at Andaz Maui) and Gary Johnson (Chef at Hana Ranch Provisions). All are masters at using food resources respectfully and creatively.
“We are naturally storytellers,” said Savage. “And these foods have stories. We can go to the supermarket and buy something, and it has a story too, but it’s not a very pretty one–of industrial agriculture. These [foraged] foods are telling us a story of the landscapes of where we came from and where we live.”
Educated with a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics and a Master’s in nutrition, Savage acknowledged that locally grown foods are higher in nutritional value, but also, “by deriving meaning from their story of nourishment, they nourish us on a deeper level.”
The challenge is divided into four parts: sourcing the ingredients, harvesting them, preparing them and then presenting the dish. This structure encourages competitors to forage from the depths of the oceans to the peaks of Maui’s mountains. Everything goes, though challengers are encouraged to pre-make as much of the dish as possible before the event, due to the large number of people competing.
“I think it really showcases the range of talent that we have on the island,” said Drummond. “You don’t need to be a top chef to compete in a contest like this, it’s really welcoming, and really honors the traditions of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. We have quite an amazing array available to us, if we know how to harvest sustainably and in harmony with nature.”
Foraging and taking ingredients from the Earth, in harmony with nature, is really what the challenge is all about.
“That’s really the end game,” said Savage. “We are all buying into this idea of sustainability, and understanding that our current trajectory is not very optimistic. But by doing these practices we really are creating the future that we want and can visualize our children living in.”
For someone looking to get into the foraging, she offered the advice of not over complicating the matter. Instead of reinventing your lifestyle, focus on finding one thing you can integrate into your day to day life.
“I’ve been a forager for over 20 years, and I’m still finding something new every day,” said Savage. “The natural world is limitless!”
Tickets to the Local Wild Food Challenge are $15, and can be purchased online at Eventbrite. Guests are encouraged to carpool to the event.
LOCAL WILD FOOD CHALLENGE
Saturday, Nov. 11
1813 Baldwin Ave., Makawao
Click here for more info.
Photo courtesy Local Wild Food Challenge