Everybody is talking about Maui County Agricultural Festival that's coming up on Saturday, April 5, at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu. In fact, the legendary Hawaiian band, Kalapana, just confirmed to perform at 3 p.m.
But on Thursday, April 3, four famous snowbird chefs will team with five Maui hotshots to cause a flurry of excitement in a fun ag dinner at Maui Tropical Plantation's Field of Dreams.
Entertainment will be provided by Reiko Fukino, Lehua Kalima and Shawn Pimental; and Ocean Vodka drinks will flow starting at the reception.
Pierre Lamielle (left), currently on “Top Chef Canada,” clowns around with Candace Bergman, co-owner of Food on Your Shirt.
CHARLES HOPE photo
John Jackson and Connie DeSousa (from left) enter their fifth year as co-owners as well as co-executive chefs of Calgary, Alberta’s Charcut Roast House. DeSousa was a fan favorite finalist in last season’s “Top Chef Canada.” She also studied artisanal sausage making at Marche in Italy and honed her butchery skills at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif. Jackson has cooked from Le Jardin des Cygnes in Paris to Jean-Georges in New York.
CHARLES HOPE photo
Jessica Pelland is a powerhouse executive chef who will open Charbar Restaurant and Rooftop Patio in 2015. Her specialty is whole animal butchery.
CHARLES HOPE photo
The Canadian chefs are John Jackson and Connie DeSousa of world-famous Charcut in Calgary, Alberta; Jessica Pelland of their Charbar Restaurant and Rooftop Patio; and Pierre Lamielle, food columnist and current cheftestant on "Top Chef Canada," which began airing March 10.
Maui chef participants include Sheldon Simeon of the new Migrant at Mala Wailea; Eric Faivre of Grand Wailea; Tylun Pang, representing the signature Ko restaurant at The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui; Ryan Luckey of Leilani's on the Beach, representing TS Restaurants Hawai'i; and Lyndon Honda of Laulima Events & Catering.
"Canada has had a long love affair with Maui," says Charlene Ka'uhane, ag fest event publicist. "If you ask anyone in the tourism industry about the recession, they would say that Canada saved us.
* What: Grown on Maui Chefs' Collaboration Dinner from 5:30 to 9 p.m. April 3 outdoors on new Field of Dreams at Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu. Four Canadian chefs and five Mauians will cook, Ocean Vodka drinks will flow and there will be entertainment. Cost is $150 per person. Call 242-2290 or order on eventbrite at www.mauicountyfarm bureau.org.
* Ag fest 2014: Will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 5 at Maui Tropical Plantation. Highlights are Grown on Maui farmers market, livestock, food samplings, music, keiki zone. Cost is $3 for adults and free for those 21 and younger. The Grand Taste runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $30 in advance and $35 at the festival.
* Chef demos: Both Lamielle and Pelland will appear at the ag fest at 9:30 a.m. in the Live Chefs Challenge. Jackson and DeSousa will do a demo in the Grand Taste tent at 12:15 p.m. They will make Portuguese sausage and poutine, a Canadian favorite of French fries, gravy and cheese curds.
"Last year, Sheldon Simeon and I traveled there for a cultural exchange as part of Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau's new pilot program, and we met these chefs. Now, they are coming here as part of that exchange. A contingent of national and regional Canadian food and travel writers will be on island to cover what they do here, along with media from Maui and Oahu."
DeSousa was a fan favorite finalist in "Top Chef Canada," the equivalent of what Simeon won on the Bravo channel in the U.S. last season, and they bonded.
She is of Portuguese heritage, and the theme for the ag fest is culinary influences of the first immigrant laborers - Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean and Filipino fare (and native Hawaiian food) - so she'll make Portuguese sausage. She'll also make poutine, a popular Canadian dish as beloved as Spam musubi is in Hawaii.
"While here, the Canadian chefs will meet with students at Maui Culinary Academy, dine at Maui restaurants such as Capische?, Migrant, Ka'ana Kitchen, Leoda's Kitchen & Pie Shop and Star Noodle," Ka'uhane says. "We'll take them on farm tours, visit small towns like Wailuku, Makawao, Kula and Paia - so they get a true sense of Maui's culinary scene."
At the dinner on April 3, they'll make Maui pork belly piripiri with heart kielbasa, fried bannock (bread) and local vegetable poke; pork crackling and kampachi ceviche with cancha (corn nuts); and more.
"I'm going to make a Filipino stew called inabraw with Kona kampachi and vegetables that I'll pick at James Simpliciano's Simpli Fresh Farm," says Simeon. "I'm also using Olowalu Nui Farm tomatoes and Napili Flo Farm garnishes."
Chef Faivre of Grand Wailea will wow diners with Waialua Estate chocolate-baked custard and lilikoi-chiffon cheese cake and Chef Pang of Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui will impress with his plantation pineapple cake. It will be the best of both worlds, from Canada to Maui.