By Sonia Isotov
Sponsored by the Maui No Ka Oi Magazine, the 2011 Aipono Awards Gala will be held Sunday, April 17 at the Four Seasons Maui Resort.
Now in their ninth year, the ‘Aipono “A Cut Above” Restaurant Awards and Gala were the first awards program to be devoted entirely to restaurants on Maui, and are determined by readers of the Maui No Ka Oi Magazine, which includes residents and visitors alike.
The prestigious Chef of the Year title is decided by peer review—voted on exclusively by Maui chefs and industry insiders.
The awards presentation also is a fundraising benefit for the Maui Culinary Academy and ticket sales generate unencumbered funds for the school, as well as scholarship money for deserving students. Students also participate in the preparation of the gala’s dinner; working alongside sponsor restaurant chefs.
Last year, Cameron Leward from Spago at the Four Seasons Resort Maui won the Chef of the Year Award, and Restaurant of the Year Award Gold and Silver honors went to the Pineapple Grill in Kapalua and Mama’s Fish House in Kuau, respectively.
Also last year, Maui County Farm Bureau’s Friend of Agriculture Award went to the Flatbread Company (Paia), Excellence in Sustainability went to Market Fresh Bistro, and the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Robert Santos at the Maui Culinary Academy.
Past award categories have include: best new restaurant, best service, best waterfront, best romantic, best innovative, best Hawaii regional cuisine, best dessert, best late night, best dinner value, best business lunch, best vegetarian menu, best Asian, best Italian, best steak, best seafood, best pizza, best sushi, most keiko-friendly, best take out, best luau, most Mauiest, best bakery, best lobby lounge, best bar, best wine list, best cocktails, and best kept secret.
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