By Vanessa Wolf
The 6th annual Maui County Agricultural Festival will be held this coming Saturday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Wailuku.
The event is free to the public and provides a forum for the Maui County Farm Bureau, local farmers, ranchers and agricultural allies to come together to share agriculture’s vital role in the economy and environment.
It also features many exhibits, demonstrations, panels, guest speakers, special events, animals, food and fun.
As part of the event, Grand Taste Education – a ticketed event – will be back again in the big tent.
The Grand Taste event pairs twelve of Maui’s best farmers and their produce with twelve of Maui’s hottest chefs. For attendees, it offers a chance to experience a tasting menu from each and an opportunity to vote for a “fan favorite.”
Featured this year will be four chefs from South Maui.
- Grow Some Good paired with Chef Christopher Kulis of Capische
- Walter Evonuk of Evonuk Farms paired with Eric Faivre of The Grand Wailea
- Grant Schule and Manu Vinciguerra of Kumu Farms paired with Chef Marc McDowell of Mākena Beach & Golf Course
- Bryan Otani of Otani Farms paired with Tylun Pang of Kō at The Fairmont Kea Lani.
Also present will be seven chefs from West Maui:
- Isaac Bancaco from Pineapple Grill
- Neil Murphy of Merrimanʻs Kapalua
- Jojo Vasquez from Plantation House
- Riko Bartolome of Asia-Vous
- Wesley Holder from Pulehu, an Italian Grill
- Sheldon Simeon of Star Noodle
- Chris Schobel and Ryan Luckey from Hula Grill.
Chef Jeff Scheer of Maui Executive Catering in Haiku will also present with produce grown by Gerry Ross and Janet Simpson of Kupaʻa Farm in Kula.
For these twelve chefs, the assignment is to take an item that might usually be served as a side dish and re-invent it as an entrée. Some of the featured products include escargot, carrots, breadfruit (ulu), peas, beets, papayas, cauliflower and taro.
With the heavy hitters involved, no doubt this will be a memorable dining experience that combines the best of Maui’s harvest prepared by the Valley Isle’s most talented food professionals.
The tasting runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Each entrée is presented at its own individual “farm stand” tasting station and guests are invited to graze.
For those who don’t make the Grand Taste event, there is still an opportunity to flex your foodie muscles. New this year is a live culinary competition with Maui-grown coffee as the key ingredient.
Sponsored by Rim Fire, the “Chefs’ Challenge” is free and open to the public on the Main Stage from 2 to 2:30 p.m.
Chef Sheldon Simeon of Star Noodle and Chef Perry Bateman of Mamaʻs Fish House will keep time, co-emcee and coordinate the judging with other distinguished food experts.
The challenge is followed by the annual Grand Taste Education awards presentation featuring awards for Judges’ Choice, Fan Favorite and Top Ag Chef.
Tickets to the Grand Taste event are limited – advance purchase is recommended – and admission is $30 per person.
Parking for the event is also limited. Those attending are urged to park at the Baldwin High School and catch the shuttle. The service starts at 8:30 am and runs both ways throughout the day. The ride is sponsored by Roberts Hawaii and takes seven minutes. As further incentive, shuttle riders may enter and win round trip air for two from Go! Airlines.
We welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you hear of any new restaurants opening or reopening, total menu overhauls, or simply know of a hidden treasure you want to share. Have a restaurant you want reviewed (or re-reviewed)? Drop us a line – Vanessa(@mauinow.com)