After its enormous debut success in 2011, the Kaanapali Beach Resort Maui Onion Challenge returned on Friday to pit chefs from resort restaurants in a friendly competition to make the best Maui Onion dish.
It was a hot day in paradise, but the host property, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, cooled down the judges with umbrellas and water, providing shade.
Four chefs and their dishes came out on top and they will return to compete again at the 24th annual Maui Onion Festival on Saturday, May 4 for the top prize. The daylong event will transpire outdoors at Whalers Village Fine Shops & Restaurants in Kaanapali.
At the Maui Onion Challenge Friday, Executive Chef Greg Grohowski of Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa made the top cut.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
The contest will be held at 10:30 a.m. on the Center Stage the day of the festival. The Maui Onion Challenge winner will then be announced at noon.
The good news for diners is, you may savor these four dishes from Friday until the day of Maui Onion Festival at the winning resort restaurants.
Chef Marc Urquidi of Roy's Kaanapali rose like cream to the top for his Maui Onion chicken-liver pate with Maui Onion marmalade and Maui Onion macaroons.
Second place went to Executive Chef Greg Grohowski of Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa for his Maui Onion Menage a Trois - a trio of delights that included pickled Maui Onion rissotto, lavender-scented tenderloin and crisp sriracha Maui Onions.
Chef Wesley Holder of Pulehu, an Italian Grill at the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas came in third for his Maui Onion and liver tart with caramelized Maui Onions, foie-gras mousse and port gelee on a bed of crispy Maui Onions and green onions.
Fourth place winner was Jennifer Evetushick, Chef de Cuisine of Tropica Restaurant & Bar oceanfront at Westin Maui Resort & Spa, for her Maui Onion gnocchi with crispy salt-and-pepper pork belly.
Judges included Karee Carlucci, a contributor to Lahaina News; Vanessa Wolf of MauiNow.com; Jen Russo, Maui Time; Susan Halas, freelancer, Maui Weekly; Dania Katz, Edible Hawaiian Islands magazine; and Carla Tracy, The Maui News' dining editor.
Ramsay Wharton of KGMB-TV and Hawaii News Now served as emcee and will do it again at Maui Onion Festival, the signature event at Whalers Village since 1990.
"The festival will be more dynamic than ever, summoning the creativity of Maui's greatest chefs, and drawing a crowd for free culinary samples and a fun-packed day," says Whalers' Marketing Manager Lisa Donlon. "Here's a chance to learn about Maui's prime upcountry agricultural crop through the dazzling interpretations of our island chefs and the great restaurants that are here in Kaanapali."