Step back to a more relaxed time with the theme "Celebrating The Songs of Hawaii" at the 20th annual Maui Calls gala benefit.
As you walk onto the grounds of Maui Arts & Cultural Center's A&B Amphitheater, be greeted with fragrant, fresh flower lei; and be serenaded by the Hula Honeys on ukulele and Joel Katz on steel guitar.
Pick up your bidding paddle for silent and live auctions and a glass to sip fine tastes from visiting vintners. Savor gourmet pupu by top chefs. See and be seen by supporters of the arts. And then dance the night away to Jimmy Mac & the Kool Kats and be dazzled by a surprise guest.
As usual, the Maui Calls lei greeters will put a smile on your face at the front entrance of the annual event. Sip fine wines from visiting vintners and savor two food items each from top Maui restaurants. You may choose the walkabout style of attending or you may opt for the tableside service as an upgrade.
TONY NOVAK-CLIFFORD photo
You may also upgrade and come early to attend a champagne reception and a preview of auction items. You will also get tableside service; preferred parking; photos; and a gift to say, "Thank you."
Whether you buy it as a sit-down affair or enjoy it as a schmooze-and-cruise walkabout, Maui Calls remains one of the top wine and food events on the island.
"One thing for sure is that it's always a great party with lots of quality wines and fabulous food, fun-loving people, good music and unique auction items," says co-chair woman Honey Bun Haynes, who worked with Judy Bisgard and Wendy Rice Peterson on this year's event.
* MAUI CALLS: Maui Arts & Cultural Center's 20th annual benefit gala will flow from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8 in the Yokouchi Pavilion and the A&B Amphitheater in Kahului with fine wines, gourmet cuisine, auction items, dance music and a surprise guest. Tickets range from $175 to $500 per adult, 21 and older. Call 242-7469 or visit www.mauiarts.org. For tables of 10, call 243-4225 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So far, 17 Maui restaurants have signed up to participate with booths positioned under the palm trees. Hotels such as Four Seasons Resort Maui; Grand Wailea; The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui; The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua; Makena Beach & Golf Resort; and Andaz Maui will all be there with two pupu each to entice guests.
From the Grand, Chef Alan Wong of Alan Wong's Amasia will make his Okinawan braised pork belly, and Hawaiian kampachi ceviche. Makena's Chef Kurt Lesmerises will tempt with his Kauai shrimp and lump crab salad, and hamachi tacos.
"It seems like year after year, Maui Calls gets more and more exciting," says nine-time food chairman Eric Faivre, executive chef of Grand Wailea. "On top of returning talents, we welcome two fantastic new restaurants with larger-than-life celebrity chefs," Faivre continues. "Morimoto's and Maui's pride, Chef Sheldon Simeon, featuring some great items from his new restaurant Migrant in Wailea. Exciting times!"
Morimoto's Chef Greg Harrison will top his tuna pizzas with anchovy aioli, olives and jalapenos; and Migrant's Chef Simeon will get you fired up with a Korean barbecue of ribeye with rendered schmaltz.
Other participants include Hula Grill with Molokai venison pastrami on fresh arugula and Surfing Goat Dairy cheese, and lobster edamame hush puppies. Roy's Kaanapali will make ahi tataki, avocado mousse and sweet soy; and Maui Cattle Co. beef tartare. Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar will sous vide New York strip steak and serve it with shiitake barley risotto, and make Asian duck empanadas.
Others in the lineup are Three's Bar & Grill; Spago Maui; Tommy Bahama; Main St. Bistro; and Maui Oma Coffee Roasting Co. with select brews.
Returning for the sixth year in a row to bring in the winemakers is Alan Jahns, who runs the JMD wine portfolio under Paradise Beverages.
"As a Maui guy, I feel this event is close to my heart," says Jahns. "It motivates me to put together a lineup of wineries that will outdo the previous year, and I feel satisfied that I've done it again."
Returning crowd favorites include Orin Swift, Duckhorn, Saintsbury, Plumpjack & Cade, Rombauer, Chappellet and Merry Edwards.
"I also have some exciting new first-timers like California's pinot-superstar Littorai; Oregon's Adelsheim; and Terre Rouge from the Sierra Foothills," continues Jahns.?"And, there will be trendy new labels, such as John Anthony's Butter Chardonnay, taking the country by storm."
Jahns will be proud to showcase a lot of 2012 wines, considered to be one of the greatest vintages in recent memory from Santa Barbara to Walla Walla.
"A welcome relief after weathering two of the toughest vintages in recent memory, 2010 and 2011," says Jahns, who brings winemakers and proprietors to the event for you to meet.
The famous Maui Calls live and silent auctions offer the chance to bid on hundreds of items, from art and jewelry to golf and travel packages - always with some very special 'uniquely Maui' items found at no other fundraiser.
"For instance, we have invited eight Maui artists to do unique pieces of art on an ipu, or gourd, for our auction," says Haynes.
Some other auction highlights are exotic vacation trips to Bora Bora and Africa; tours of Sonoma, Napa and St. Helena, Calif., by Beau Wine Co.; two-night stay at Kupeke Beach House for up to four guests, courtesy of Debbie Von Tempsky; and tickets to the San Francisco Opera.
Of course, do leave room for dessert. Pastry Chef Rhonda Ashton of Four Seasons will wow with chocolate blinis and pineapple tarts with green-tea streusel; Pastry Chef David Sutherland of the Grand will flambe pain perdu in Maui Gold Rum; and Spago's Cameron Lewark will cool you off with his passion-mango sorbet.