The 2nd annual Hawaii Food and Wine Festival happened to be in Oahu the same time we were there, so we decided to attend one of the sessions. Not big fans of large crowds and long lines, we opted to purchase the pass to the Mix with the Masters daytime sessions.
Chef Roy Yamaguchi kicked off the day by acting as both a greeter, welcoming the attendees personally, and as the master of ceremonies:
Chef Ed Kenney (Town, Honolulu) moderated the first session, Building A Sense of Plate and Place. It featured panelists who were practitioners of the locavore movement (chefs, cattle growers, student, etc.):
The second morning session, Get Wild and Raw in Hawai‘i, featured Chefs Masaharu Morimoto and Ming Tsai giving a demo on how to prepare raw fish. Ming was the perfect companion to Morimoto as both of them kept the audience entertained with light-hearted banter during their demos (check out Morimoto striking the Iron Chef pose):
Morimoto’s demo combined fresh fish cured in kombu leaves with a Panzanella salad. Since there was no bread in the recipe, he called this dish “Zanella.” The fish and vinaigrette-dressed cucumber, mozzarella, olives, tomatoes and greens were artfully arranged between a squid ink stamp of the fish’s head and tail:
A closer look at the Zanella bite provided to attendees:
Ming Tsai told many funny stories including how the Chinese have perfected how to cook fish for over 2000 years; while the Japanese don’t even cook their fish, stole some of the ideas (such as hot oil “flashing”) and charge more than double the price. Ming’s dish was curry-oil flashed kampachi carpaccio topped with crispy rice, fresh vegetables, ginger and shoyu:
The curry-oil was not overpowering at all, and the tasting sample provided was generous:
The lunch session, Hawai’i In A Bowl, featured star chefs providing five different dishes. Stations (including a wine bar) were set up so that attendees could chat with each of the chefs while getting a bowl of their food. San Francisco Chef Charles Phan (Slanted Door) fashioned a sit down noodle bar for his station (seen in the foreground):
Much to the delight of all attendees, original Japanese Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai (La Rochelle, Tokyo) was one of the bowl providers:
Sakai-san’s bowl featured the best abalone preparation we have ever eaten. The very tender mollusk was served on top of udon noodles and topped with mizuna mustard leaves:
Chef Colin Hazama (Sheraton, Waikiki) served the most beautiful bowl. He provide an updated version of Poke with a fused Ahi and Kampachi fish “boat.” It was served with crispy rice, micro thai basil, sea asparagus spears and a white shoyu-dashi gelée. Fried breadfruit formed the sails of this very tasty boat:
Chef Charles Phan brought along Chef Michelle Mah (Wo Hing General Store, SF) to help cook and serve the pho bowls:
Their beef pho included brisket and rare steak. The super tasty beef broth reminded us why Slanted Door is the premiere Vietnamese restaurant:
The Pho Rau basket passed around the noodle bar was really beautiful:
Chef Colin Nishida (Side Street Inn, Honolulu) provided beef stew topped with a sausage lumpia and rice. It was comfort food great:
Chef Keoni Chang (Foodland Super Market, Hawaii) provided a braised shortrib luau (puréed taro leaves cooked in coconut milk) and sour poi. The beef was topped with chili water and cherry tomato halves:
The shortrib was very tender and super tasty:
As a bonus, Daniel Anthony of Mana Ai provided a hand-pounded poi (paiai) demonstration:
The paiai was more starchy and glutinous than machine-made poi. They served it with a piece of smoked marlin on a taro leaf:
The lunch session was excellent. Between the bowls, paiai and wine, we were definitely happy and sated. It wasn’t crowded at all and it was a great way to have an opportunity to meet each of the chefs.
The last session, Battle of the Food Geeks, showcased five food-related startups pitching their business plan to panelists that included Chefs Susan Feniger (Border Grills and Street, Los Angeles) and Lee Ann Wong (Unique Eats on Cooking Channel):
Chefs Yang Soon (Father’s Office, Los Angeles) and Roy Yamaguchi (Roy’s, numerous locations) were also on the panel:
Note: The BarFlys are vacationing in Hawaii. SF posts will return soon; in the meantime, hope you enjoy these travel-related posts.