People often ask me what my favorite food and wine event is on island, and Maui Calls inevitably pops up on the A-list each and every year.
Its next incarnation will be blooming from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10 outdoors and under the stars at Maui Arts & Cultural Center's A&B Amphitheater and the shiny glass Yokouchi Pavilion.
"Maui Calls is our signature fundraiser, now in its' 17th year," says Development Director Carol Gentz.
Executive Chef Eric Faivre of the Grand Wailea returns to Maui Calls as the food chair (from left); Alan Jahns of JMD Beverages will also come back as the wine chair. Both are honored here with fresh flower garlands by lei greeter Rose Sumibcay, who “loves sharing the aloha.”
CARLA TRACY photo
"It takes us back to the 'Boat Days' of Hawaii, when docking passenger ships were welcomed by lei greeters, Hawaiian music and hula dancers.
"This year's theme is lei - and fresh flower lei will be engulfing the Yokouchi Pavilion and A&B Amphitheater. Plumeria, ginger, pikake, ilima, maile and kukui will be everywhere."
Also spread out everywhere will be wine and food booths, with 15 big-name visiting winemakers and/or their representatives being flown in once again by Alan Jahns, longtime partner in JMD Beverages, which is recognized as the largest locally owned and operated wholesaler of fine wines in the state of Hawaii.
Maui Calls at a glance:
Where: Under the coconut palms at Maui Arts & Cultural Center's A&B Amphitheater and Yokouchi Pavilion in Kahului.
When: From 6 to 10 p.m., Friday, Aug. 10. (The Epicurean reception begins at 5 p.m.)
The theme: Na Lei O Hawai'i, or "Celebration of the Lei."
Attire: Evening aloha wear.
Highlights: Savor pupu by 18 of Maui's best restaurants, sip stellar wines by 15 top winemakers; bid at silent and live auctions, dance to live music and more.
Entertainment: Listen to tunes by the UH Maui College's Institute of Hawaiian Music and then Ahumanu, dance to Jimmy Mac & the Kool Kats, enjoy "a few surprises."
How much: Single tickets run from $175 to $500. Tables of 10 with sit-down service start at $1950.
* What's more: You must be at least 21 and older to attend.
For tickets: Call the MACC?Box office at 242-7469; or go online to www.mauiarts.org.
"I've been a Maui resident for 34 years, and this event is dear to my heart," says Jahns. "It's a really big deal, and I take it very seriously."
Another big deal, breaking news in fact, is that JMD Beverages has just been brought under the umbrella of Paradise Beverages.
Jahns and the remaining partner David Nip will continue to manage the JMD Portfolio for Paradise, so expect the same high caliber of wines at Maui Calls as you have in the past.
"I'll bring in the same big names, the usual superstars," says Jahns. "Such as Duckhorn, Rombauer, Plumpjack, and, of course, Sainstbury."
"We really try to bring out our best wineries and this will be no exception. And, this year, we'll bring in somebody new for a fun little twist like David O' Reilley of Owen Rowe, arguably one of the hottest wineries in Yakima Valley out of the Pacific Northwest. He'll be the new superstar."
The hugely popular Merry Edwards will once again be represented as will Miner Family, Honig, Paradigm, Selby, Truchard, L'Ecole, Handley Cellars and Zolo of Argentina. If you love fine wine, this will be the place to sip a variety and schmooze cutting-edge winemakers in an intimate setting.
"Everybody can be assured, this will be a good year, indeed," says Jahns.
The best part is, proceeds from the event support the MACC's arts education, Artists in the Community programs and cultural programs, arts exhibits and free community events throughout the year. And, there is still time to snap up tickets.
Gourmet cuisine is a big part of the Maui Calls picture and returning Food Chair Eric Faivre has done a bang-up job of rounding out the best on Maui.
Faivre's day job is as executive chef of the Grand Wailea and so he's got contacts that just won't quit.
For instance, superstar chef Alan Wong will be there with Chris Damskey, who is in charge the new Alan Wong's Amasia at the Grand Wailea.
The two will wow the crowds with shoyu duck bao buns with hoisin and sri racha sauces, and Chinese-style chicken salad with hoisin-mustard dressing.
Humuhumunukunukuapuaa's new Chef de Cuisine Michael Lofaro will also be there with Kona kampachi tartare with avocado puree and smoked ponzu; and chicken and pine-nut dumplings.
Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar's chefs Carl Yeh and Kaipo Nakata will grill New York steaks with lemongrass and serve them over crispy rice; and do ahi sliders with shaved Maui onions, Waipoli greens and spicy Korean sauce.
Jojo Vasquez of the Banyan Tree at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua will do beef short ribs with root beer and ginger carrots; and ahi tatami with zinfandel gastrique. Fairmont Kea Lani Maui's Executive Chef Tylun Pang will wow the crowds with his fresh lobster tempura with sesame and pineapple sweet chili; and grilled lamb chops with mango and mint salsa.
Maui Calls always brings in the who's who of Maui chefs. It's a coveted gig and they also donate all of their time and energy to this very worthy cause.
Other restaurant participants will include Hula Grill, Gannon's, Makena Beach & Golf Resort, Main Street Bistro, Monkeypod Kitchen, Pineapple Grill at Kapalua, Roy's Kaanapali, Pulehu Italian Grill at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, Spago and Tommy Bahamas.
"Desserts will be provided by pastry chefs from the Grand Wailea and Four Seasons Resort Maui," says Faivre. "David Gridley of Maui Oma Coffee Roasting Company will do Maui-grown brews."
Dance off the calories to live music by Jimmy Mac & The Kool Kats, and make sure to bid in the live and silent auctions on items such as fine artworks, fishing trips, hotel stays, kayaks, autographed guitars, golf games and wine tours.