Kaanapali is humming with excitement over its upcoming three-day culinary event called Kaanapali Fresh. For the first time, 11 hotels and condominiums as well as restaurants, chefs and an oceanfront shopping center will combine with local farms and farmers, non-profits, local beer and spirits producers and culinary enthusiasts in one world class event. On Friday, Aug. 31, the event kicks off with “Progressive Kaanapali” a progressive dinner that will feature the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, Hula Grill, Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas and Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa.
Executive Chef Garret Fujieda of The Westin Maui Resort & Spa is co-chairing the event with Executive Chef Francois Milliet of The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas. “It’s a gathering of our community that showcases the partnerships we have with our local farmers and businesses,” Fujieda says. “When we talk about sustainability, this truly comes to life when you see the many hands that work together to bring it to life.”
The philosophy is simple: island people love food, visitors love our island’s food, chefs love Maui agriculture and Kaanapali wants to showcase its amazing offerings. So Kaanapali Beach Resort Association created a culinary event that could rival preceding festivals and offer something new.
“Kaanapali Beach Resort always wanted to present a culinary event,” says Shelley Kekuna, executive director of the Kaanapali Beach Resort Association. “When we wrapped up sponsorship of the Senior Skins Golf Tournament, the opportunity became available for us to present our dream culinary event. The collaboration amongst the various partners came together based on long-term relationships and a common goal to showcase the best of the best in Kaanapali along side all the people we work with.”
Collaboration with Maui County Farm Bureau (MCFB) was immediately in the works to highlight Maui agriculture alongside Kaanapali chefs who continue to feature more locally sourced food for their menus. On Saturday, Sept. 1, farmers will represent their products at the Maui Farmers Market at the Whaler’s Village. Participants include Lynn DeCoite of L&R Ranch, Geoff Haines of Pacific Produce LLC, Bill Mertens of Anuhea Farm, Chauncy Monden of Kula Country Farms, Jamie Shishido of J. Shishido Farm, Darren Strand and Rudy Balala of Maui Gold Pineapple Company, Fernando Treje of Treje Farm, Sylvestre Tumbaga of Syl’s Produce, Cheryl Vasconcellos of Hana Fresh, and Heidi and Tommy Watanabe of Watanabe Vegetable Processing, LLC. Later that day, the farmers will appear again at the Kaanapali Food and Wine Festival at 6pm where they will be paired with Kaanapali chefs and their ingredients.
“The goal for MCFB is to honor the farmers and chefs for the choices they make every day to grow and source local,” says Warren K. Watanabe, the farm bureau’s executive director. “We also partner with Kaanapali Beach Resort because we want to educate the community about the interconnectedness between local agriculture and tourism. One cannot be successful without the other. Maui ag provides fresh, local and flavorful food and Maui ag supports tourism with beautiful landscapes that come from managed agricultural lands, agri-tourism attractions, farmers markets and annual events such as Kaanapali Fresh. There’s also a local flower industry that supports Maui’s wedding market and landscape and nursery industry for hotels and golf courses.”
The Farmers Market that starts at 7am on Saturday through 11am will be set up along the beach path fronting the shopping center. Highlights will include three chefs stations from Leilani’s on the Beach, Hula Grill and Maui Fish and Pasta. There will also be Maui Ag merchandise like canvas shopping bags and tees. Maui County Farm Bureau will also have reps there to talk about their Maui initiatives and ag programs for kids. You can also meet Roxanne Tiffin of Kula Fields who runs a subscription business that delivers fresh produce boxes to your home, condo or business.
“We’re excited about the Grown on Maui Farmers Market on Saturday and the big Chef/Farmers/Winery dinner Saturday night,” says Watanabe. “Maui farmers will be alongside their chef and winery, and we’re excited to be presented as a trio. Saturday night features a silent auction featuring more than $30,000 in donations received, particularly one-of-a-kind hotel stays from Kaanapali Beach Resort hotels, agricultural tours from Maui County Farm Bureau members, and dinners, art, and ocean and land activities from businesses throughout Maui that support local ag.”
Activities are an important component of Kaanapali Fresh and there will be tours and ocean activity bookings all weekend. Book your activities at Beach Activities of Maui and UFO Parasail and they will donate $10 of that activity to the Maui Food Bank. One of the activities Kaanapali Fresh is offering is a tour for $47 of the Kaanapali mountainside to see Kaanapali Coffee Farms to see the science and art of coffee bean processing on Saturday from 9 am to noon.
Saturday’s anticipated gala Kaanapali Fresh Food and Wine Festival will treat attendees to an amazing culinary presentation. Starting at 6pm on the Royal Kaanapali Golf Course’s third green, Makana will be the opening act while attendees peruse chefs presentations like Hyatt Regency’s poached baby Hawaiian abalone with watercress nunomono and Kalbi-style wagyu flat iron steak with Waipoli greens salad and yuzu vinaigrette.
Spyro Gyra headlines the live entertainment for the evening. Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa’s new executive chef Greg Gaspar will feature “desserts themed from Kaanapali Coffee,” says Susan Havens, Director of Sales and Marketing for the resort. Some of their menu items for the evening will include Kaanapali Creme Brûlée and Maui Coffee Company Cheesecake.
Sunday morning, Kaanapali Fresh has Maui’s most iconic brunch on its mind, with Kaanapali Beach Hotel’s chef Tom Muromoto in the limelight. Book reservations for the brunch at $42 for the event from 9am to 1pm that will feature veggies from Syl’s Produce with owners Sylvester and Natividad supporting the presentation. Sumner Erdman of Ulupalakua ranch will be there, highlighting his Ulupalakua raised lamb that will be at the rotisserie station. And mixologist Chandra Lam Lucariello of Southern Wine and Spirits will be on hand to help brunchers create their own signature Bloody Mary from Ocean Vodka and Old Lahaina Rum and fresh juices.
“A truly great cocktail can only start with great ingredients,” Lucariello says. “I hope Sunday’s up and coming bar chefs will feel drawn to focus on fresh ingredients and think of themselves as artists.”
For those interested in just mixology, Lucariello will host an interactive mixology lesson at Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas from 2pm to 4pm for $25.
The Grand Finale of Kaanapali Fresh will be a Third Eye Blind concert at Royal Lahaina’s Beachside Lawn. There Maui Brewing Company will launch their Kaanapali Golden Ale paired with Chef Bernardo Salazar’s gourmet barbecue inspired gastropub dishes like fish tacos and BBQ pulled pork, sliders and flatbreads. Maui Brewing Co. is excited to be brewing one of their limited edition craft brews special for Kaanapali Fresh, and owner Garrett Marrero describes the ale as “a golden refreshing beer that is mildly sweet from the Belgian style yeast as well as the lilikoi and guava used in the brew.”
Hula Grill Chef Christopher Schobel will present dishes at the progressive dinner, farmers market and the food and wine event. He’s excited to be working so closely with all the farms. “I’m making closer connections to the food source and continuing to use more local product,” he says. “It’s now to the point that these farmers are growing stuff for our restaurant exclusively.” Schobel adds that he’s most excited about “the Sunday night BBQ featuring Third Eye Blind and enjoying the event while not working.”
“There are so many reasons why weʻre doing Kaanapali Fresh,” says Kekuna. “One of our goals is to allow people to experience the diversity of Kāʻanapali Beach Resort and to meet, up close and personal, the people in front-and-behind the scenes who work hard everyday to create memorable experiences for Kaanapali visitors.” We also do this event because Kaanapali is a place where fun thrives, where people come together to have magical experiences. In addition, we do events such as Kaanapali Fresh to recognize our business partners and to give back to worthy organizations like Maui Food Bank and Maui County Farm Bureau.”
You can reserve tickets by going to kaanapalifresh.com or calling Kaanapali Beach Resort Association at 808-661-3271.
Friday, Aug. 31
6-10pm: Progressive Kaanapali
Saturday, Sept. 1
7-11am: Grown on Maui Farmers Market
9am-noon: Kaanapali Coffee Tour
6-10pm: First Annual Kā‘anapali Fresh Food & Wine Festival
Sunday, Sept. 2
9am-1pm: Maui’s Award-winning Brunch at Kaanapali Beach Hotel
2-4pm: The Artful Creation of Organic Infused Cocktails
5:30-10pm: Concert Under Kaanapali Moonlight