Those hungry for a taste of the Philippines should head to the Maui Mall in Kahului from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. That's when the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival will put food, fun, culture and music on the front burner.
"If you want to eat great Filipino dishes like pansit, adobo and halo halo, or if you want to take home some bibingka or puto, you are indeed in for a treat," says Teresita Noble, chairperson of the committee for the food vendors.
"Nine, yes, count them, nine Filipino restaurants are slated to share their best, mouthwatering treats."
Chef-partner Liz Buenafe of the Four Sisters Kitchen in Wailuku showcases her cascaron dessert. The restaurant will have a food booth.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Restaurants include Four Sisters Kitchen, Home Maid Bakery, Caf Central Catering & Drive-In; Local Mocha Cafe; TJ's Food Mart Fast-Food Restaurant, Catering & Bakery; Randy's Catering & Fast Food; Family Restaurant Catering; Cupie's Drive-In; and Paradise Supermart.
Of course, while you dine on favorites, continuous Filipino entertainment will be presented.
At 11 a.m. on the center stage, the Master P Noy Chef Cook Off will commence with Sheldon Simeon of Star Noodle in Lahaina, Rey Baysa of Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar in the Shops at Wailea, and Isaac Bancaco of Humuhumunukunukuapua'a, at Grand Wailea.
"We wanted to include an event that would showcase Maui's Filipino chefs as well as encourage Maui's youth to consider a career in the culinary arts," says Gilbert Keith-Agaran, who is spearheading the cookoff along with Brian Moto as well as Jake Belmonte of the University of Hawaii Maui College.
The chefs will create a signature dish based on the distinctively Filipino culinary heritage with certain predetermined protein traditionally used in Filipino cooking such as chicken, duck, pork, farm-raised tilapia or beef, and Filipino vegetables such as long squash, carabasa (winter melon or pumpkin), marrungay leaves and/or pods, bittermelon and eggplant.
This year's contest judges are Grant Chun of A&B Properties, Chris Speere of Maui Culinary Academy, and Carla Tracy of The Maui News.
Then stick around for the Speedy Balut Eating Contest at 1:30 p.m. Balut are a prized Filipino delicacy of fertilized duck and other eggs.
"Balut-eating contests were made popular on the Mainland as part of Filipino festivals and recently in Honolulu," says organizer Alvin Santander.
"The festival organizers wanted a wild, crazy and challenging contest utilizing one of the most unique delicacies in the world -and so the Speedy Balut Eating Contest was created."
In addition, three lucky people will win airfare to the Philippines during drawings at various times throughout the day.
For more details, call 242-8100.