Hawaii is one of the most culturally diverse places in the country, from its indigenous Hawaiian traditions, plantation era immigration, to its status as a global tourism destination. One of the best ways to see this diversity in action is to have a meal in the Islands. Here you can enjoy traditional Hawaiian food, locally caught seafood, from poke to Kona lobster, plantation-inspired plate lunches, inventive sushi, fresh-made noodles, farm-to-table produce and much more. To indulge in all of the above, paired with the finest wines and handmade cocktails, look no further than the 8th annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival from October 6 through 28. This month-long festival unites some of the best chefs from across the Islands and abroad to cook at picturesque locations on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island.
Hawaii Food & Wine Festival
When: October 6-28, 2018
Where: Multiple locations on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island
Visit hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com for complete schedule and to buy tickets.
The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival was co-founded in 2011 by Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, two of Hawaii’s most esteemed chefs and restaurateurs. The two also launched Hawaii Regional Cuisine, along with 10 other Hawaii chefs and culinary experts in 1991. The culinary movement, which eventually gave rise to the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, focused on partnering with local farmers, ranchers and fishers to help reduce Hawaii’s food imports and to spotlight the Islands’ diverse mix of culinary influences. The festival showcases these locally grown and harvested ingredients with inspired tastings; keep a lookout for produce grown on Oahu and Maui, honey from Hawaii Island and grass fed beef from Maui and Hawaii Island.
Roy Yamaguchi, internationally renowned for his namesake restaurants, Roy’s, as well as his newer Hawaii establishments, Eating House 1849, says the festival denotes Hawaii as a food destination. “Alan Wong and I started the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival to show the world what contemporary Hawaii food is all about,” he says. “Between Hawaii Regional Cuisine laying that foundation almost 30 years ago, the festival and new generations of Hawaii chefs making waves here at home and across the country, that has definitely happened.”
In addition to spotlighting local ingredients at the hands of talented chefs from Hawaii and beyond, proceeds from the festival also benefit local organizations that educate Hawaii’s future culinary staff and farmers and support food sustainability. In 2017, the festival raised $414,000 for 23 nonprofits. Since the event began in 2011, more than $2 million has been raised.
This year, during a nearly monthlong celebration, food and drink lovers can treat themselves to 13 events at resorts, golf courses and high-end shopping centers across three islands. The festival features a roster of more than 160 internationally renowned master chefs, master sommeliers, winemakers and mixologists from Hawaii, the U.S. Mainland, Asia and Europe.
One of this year’s signature, and most popular Oahu events, is the annual wine event. This year’s theme is Winederland, a play on Wonderland, and an oenophile’s fantasy come to life. Sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, this event will be held on the rooftop of the Hawaii Convention Center on Oct. 26 from 6-9 p.m. You can sip and swirl acclaimed vintages, including Opus One, Silver Oak and Favia Wines during the starry night event, and imbibe on creative libations crafted by eight mixologists. Winederland features 23 chefs, including festival co-founder Roy Yamaguchi, Masaharu Morimoto of Morimoto Asia Waikiki, Lee Anne Wong of Koko Head Cafe and Serge Dansereau of The Bathers’ Pavilion in Sydney, Australia.
Other Can’t Miss Hawaii Food & Wine Festival Events
- Under the Tuscan Sun
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on Hawaii Island
October 6; 6 to 9:30 p.m.
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa
October 20; 6 to 9 p.m.
- Hawaiian Airlines Presents Winederland
Hawaii Convention Center
October 26; 6 to 9 p.m.
“The (never-ending) season, the dynamism of the chef community and the amazing produce make Hawaii such a unique food destination,” says Dansereau, who is a returning featured chef at the annual food festival. Originally from Montréal, Quebec, Dansereau who now calls Sydney home is the chef and owner of The Bathers’ Pavilion, a restaurant, cafe and bar which opened in 1999 in a historic building in Sydney’s middle harbor. The Sydney Morning Herald awarded him Chef of the Year.
Dansereau says he’s looking forward to participating in the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival again this year. “The organization is without parallel and the generosity of the help we get is on an amazing scale,” he says.
He says he’ll be preparing a tuna tartare with avocado, ponzu gel and sesame and rice crackers. “I was fortunate to be able to select some ingredients that are favorites of Hawaii: the tuna, avocado and ponzu reflect the fresh and delicious Hawaiian food style.”
Winemaker and renowned viticulturist—the study of grape cultivation—Annie Favia of Favia Wines will also be attending Winederland. Favia and her husband and business partner, Andy Erickson began Favia Wines in 2003 in the foothills of the Vaca Mountains, just east of Napa, California. She’ll be pouring the vineyard’s 2015 Favia Suize Viognier Amador and the 2015 Favia Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon at Winederland. She says she hopes tasters get the “sense of place, respect for nature and honor of our craft,” when drinking Favia wines.
To experience inspired tastings, utilizing Hawaii grown and harvested ingredients and paired with selective wines and creative cocktails, don’t miss this year’s Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. These food events reflect Hawaii’s rich culture, with a tropical paradise backdrop.
“It is so gratifying to see thousands of people able to experience Hawaii ingredients in the creations of internationally renowned chefs at the festival’s signature events that now happen on Maui and Hawaii Island, in addition to Oahu,” says Yamaguchi.