SHOOTZ, it's SCHATZ! . . . Saturday was scorchingly hot, and I was looking to cool down as I left the 2013 Maui County Ag Festival at Maui Tropical Plantation.
Near the exit was Shaka Pops, so I ordered a creamy lime-coconut popsicle and found a spot way off the side to enjoy it while waiting for my husband.
With camera, purse and farm-fresh produce in one arm, popsicle in the other, people approaching me left and right, I could barely eat the treat, when Helen Nielsen called out, "Senator Brian Schatz, I'd like you to meet Carla Tracy, the Maui News' dining editor."
Executive Chef Jojo Vasquez of Plantation House in Kapalua won the Live Top Maui Ag Chef award Saturday at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
"Senator, you have me at a disadvantage!" I replied, face as red as the beets in my bag, popsicle dripping and melting all over the place.
I spotted the mayor there, too, and reports are more than 8,000 other people attended. Here are the contest results from the Grand Taste Education segment, in which each chef paired with a farmer. I'm hoping these dishes will turn up on menus soon.
Winning the Judges Choice Award were Tylun Pang of Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui and Bryan Otani of Otani Farm. Pang dazzled diners by wok-frying Otani's rainbow carrots in tempura batter and serving them with sweet-soy glaze and furikake and other spices.
Got restaurant / dining-event scoop? Call Dining Editor Carla Tracy at 242-6342; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chef Marc McDowell of Makena Beach & Golf Resort teamed with Grant Schule and Many Vinciguerra of Kumu Farms to win the Fan Favorite for strawberry papaya with baby tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.
Stephanie Garcia of Mama Isabel's Organic Salsa won Maui's Food Product to Market Contest. And, Chef Jojo Vasquez of The Plantation House Restaurant won the Live Top Maui Ag Chef Contest, in which the key ingredient was Maui coffee.
Speaking of the Plantation House restaurant in Kapalua, it still has not reopened after its unfortunate fire late last month. "We have a big group coming on April 18 and will accommodate them in a tent outside," says owner George Mackin. "We're targeting a soft reopening for April 20. Be sure to check with us to reconfirm. It's a legendary house and we want to bring it back to its former glory, and so we're doing some nice renovations."
BITS AND PIECES . . Hot on the heels of the ag fest is Body & Soil farm and health conference today, Friday and Saturday at Maui Tropical Plantation. Enjoy organic breakfasts and lunches, inspiring ag video clips, and talks by diet, farm and health experts. You may register online at www.mauigrown.com or call 242-7870.
"Sweet Baby James Taylor and his legendary band will grace the A&B Amphitheater stage this Friday for a night of best-selling hits!" exclaims the MACC's Food & Beverage Manager Lisa Haole.
"Event Lawn gates will open at 4:30 p.m., so come early and enjoy some ono grinds! Outrigger Pizza will make fresh pizzas to order, Fleetwood's on Front St. will have fresh fish tacos and their famous burgers. Star Anise Indian Cuisine will serve up delicious curry plates, and Three's Bar & Grill will have its juicy barbecue rib plates and panko-crusted ahi-tempura rolls. Maui Macaroons, Shaka Pops and Maui Kazowie Kettlecorn will take care of your sweet tooth!''
There's those Shaka Pops again. Glad the event will be later in the day and into the evening to keep popsicle melting at a minimum.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS . . . So many events are coming up, it's hard to fathom.
Westin Maui Resort & Spa will put on a Mother's Day brunch and concert with performers Anuhea and friends Paula Fuga and Mishka Sunday, May 12.
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa has partnered with Maui Brewing Company, Southern Wine and Spirits, and General Cigar to kick off its inaugural Maui Craft Session event on May 10 on its oceanfront lawn in Kaanapali with legendary Pu'u Keka'a as the backdrop.
MACC's Development Director Carol Gentz tells us that plans are underway for a new Maui Brewers Festival Beer Dinner on Friday, May 17. It will the feature fusion cuisine of Cactus Bistro Chef-Owner John Memering with Maui Brewing Co. special craft beers. The dinner precedes the Maui Brewers Festival May 18.
The Haiku Ho'olaule'a and Flower Festival will be in full bloom Saturday, April 20. Food will be plentiful from Cafe des Amis, Mana Foods, Moana Cafe, Flatbread Pizza, Shaka Pops and much more. Shootz. Wonder if I'll run into Sen. Schatz