Ka'anapali Resort pegs itself as the "place the world likes to play." This will be more evident than ever this weekend, during the inaugural three-day Ka'anapali Fresh series of food and music events.
Scores of fun seekers will descend on the sunny West Side resort, reputed to have a longstanding relationship with farmers and ranchers (as it also plays host to the annual Maui Onion Festival).
Saturday, it will host the Grown on Maui Farmers Market from 7 a.m. to noon near the oceanfront beachwalk at Whalers Village Fine Shops & Restaurants.
The Westin Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas Sous Chef Wesley Holder and Executive Chef Francois Milliet (from left) will be among the top chefs to participate in this inaugural event. Saturday night, chefs will be paired with farmers as well as winemakers and music by Spyro Gyra will get the crowds jumping.
CARLA TRACY photo
Bring the whole family, your appetites and a shopping bag to the free event, which will feature fresh produce, flowers, Maui coffee and many other prepared goods from Maui's fertile farms.
"We're setting up food booths and we'll do local fruits and granola parfaits, banana and macadamia-nut muffins, pretty simple breakfast fare," says Hula Grill's Executive Chef Chris Schobel.
"Our sister restaurant, Leilani's, will do fresh fruit smoothies and we'll offer virgin Bloody Marys."
* Food & Wine Festival: Savor food by 12 top resort chefs, who will each be paired with a farmer and a winemaker. Listen to hot tunes by Spyro Gyra and Makana. Cost is $150 per person.
* Other highlights: Ka'anapali Progressive dinner Friday; Grown on Maui Farmers Market Saturday; brunch then mixology demo and tasting on Sunday, followed by the Third Eye Blind Concert and food feast at Royal Lahaina Resort at 5:30 p.m.
* For tickets: Visit the website at www.kaanapalifresh.com
But the signature event of the weekend is the Ka'anapali Fresh Food & Wine Festival from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday.
It will be held outdoors under the stars on the Ka'anapali Golf Course, right behind the third hole. The farmers and ranchers will come back for more appearances, this time paired with top resort chefs and beverage makers at booths spread all around the party venue area.
"Make sure to savor each of the exquisite farm-to-table menus," says Shelley Kekuna, executive director of the Ka'anapali Beach Resort Association.
"While it may be impossible to choose a favorite dish, a team of judges will make an honest effort -with award announcements occurring at about 7:45 p.m.
"That's right at the break of the evening's premium entertainment, when storied Spyro Gyra comes on stage to follow an opening act by Hawaii's own Makana."
Of course, the music part of the program is big news. But even bigger news, at least for all of the Maui foodies among us, is that Ka'anapali Resort has a bunch of new chef blood in its midst.
Greg Gaspar has just been named as the executive chef of the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa and he'll team with Fernando Traje of Traje Farms to make five-pepper seared ahi with Traje Farm eggplant tapenade with fresh zucchini and yellow squash slaw; and herb-crusted pork served with green beans and miso stir fry.
Gaspar's food offerings will be paired with the boutique winery Mantra out of the Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys.
Celebrated chef Roy Yamaguchi recently opened a new Roy's Kaanapali restaurant and his executive chef, Joey Macadangdang, will be there with Maui apple-banana tarts with salted caramel; and more, with foods from Hana Fresh Farm.
Greg Grohowski recently got hired as the executive chef of the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, and he'll team with Geoff Haines of Waipoli Hydroponic Greens of Kula to make kalbi-style wagyu flatiron beef with Waipoli greens salad with Hawaiian abalone, watercress sunomono and tangy yuzu vinaigrette. They'll be paired with Joto Sake, cool and artisanal.
Ivan Pahk is now chef/partner of the new Maui Fish & Pasta in the old Cane & Taro location and he'll team with Bill Mertens of Anuhea Farm to do homemade linguine with Anuhea asparagus; and Korean ahi tartare with Asian broth. Master sommelier Chuck Furuya will be paired with them and will bring his wine picks.
"We have about 12 chef-farmer pairs in all," says Francois Milliet, cochair as well as executive chef of the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas. "The booths will be in a circle kind of like Maui Calls. I'm really excited to be paired with Lynn DeCoite of L&R Farm on Molokai."
Milliet will do Molokai sweet potato with wild boar bacon, Kula onion, currants, pine nuts and micro basil; as well as Molokai sweet potato sformato (gnocchi) with butter poached prawns and merlot grape salad. Sip wines from Melville Estate Winery from Santa Ynez Valley.
The other cochair, Executive Chef Garret Fujieda, of Milliet's sister property, the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, will pair with Chauncy Monden of Kula Country Farm.
His chef de cuisine Jen Evetushick of Tropica restaurant will make Kula Country Farm salad of strawberry and sunflower sprouts with vanilla-roasted corn, and hearts of palm frittes (pictured).
Other participants include Chris Schobel of Hula Grill, paired with Ho'opono Farms and Nani Moon Mead; Tom Muromoto of Ka'anapali Beach Hotel will team with Syl's Produce and Master Sommelier Roberto Viernes. The complete menu and event list should be available online.
The fun will continue on Sunday with an extra special brunch at Ka'anapali Beach Hotel from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Do check out the Bloody Mary Bar with drinks prepared by a master mixologist.
The grand finale is the Concert Under The Ka'anapali Moonlight at the Royal Lahaina Resort's oceanfront lawn with music by the alternative group, Third Eye Blind, as well as backyard barbecue fare and a new beer by Maui Brewing Co., - all making Kaanapali a world-class place to play.