Maui Food and Dining

Maui Onion Festival: Where Bad Breath is the New Black

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By Vanessa Wolf

Chefs at last year's Maui Onion Festival. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Chefs at last year’s Maui Onion Festival. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

Love onions?

Let’s rephrase: looooooooove onions?

With all those “O”s what we really mean to say is: do you love them enough to eat them raw and then wear a lei made of them around in a public place as a testimony to that passion?

Then grab some Listerine, because this Saturday at Whalers’ Village in Lahaina is the 25th Annual Maui Onion Festival.

Events kick off on the main stage  with a welcome at 9:45 a.m. followed by a chef demonstration with Mark “Gooch” Noguchi of Pili Group at 10 a.m.


This is followed by the Ka’anapali Restaurant Recipe Contest at 10:30 a.m and another chef demonstration – this time by Chris Kulis of Capische and The Market by Capische at 10:45 a.m.

Why quit while you’re ahead?

Take in another chef demonstration with James McDonald of Aina Gourmet Market and the Feast at Lele at 11:30 a.m. followed by the announcement of the winner of the Ka’anapali Restaurant Recipe Contest.

It’s a day of chef demonstrations, so don’t be surprised when Jojo Vasquez of the Plantation House teaches you a thing or two at 12:15 p.m. and MiGRANT’s Sheldon Simeon shares some of his vast knowledge at 1 p.m.

Chef Kulis' lobster dish from last year's festival. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Chef Kulis’ lobster dish from last year’s festival. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

At 1:45 p.m. is your last chance to place a new culinary feather in your cap when Chef Nick Mastracusa of Kuk’io takes to the stage.


At 2:30 p.m. is the legendary/dreaded mixed drink contest, featuring cocktails made with – yep – onions.

If that sounds appealing, then we think you may just be of the ilk that chows down on a raw onions like they’re apples just because you can.

If so, you might be excited to learn your unique talent doesn’t just gross out your friends and scare away would-be romantic interests. This Saturday you – and your offspring should there be any who possess the same penchant – can enter to win an onion-eating contest at the festival. Bad-breath-getting-time starts at 3:30 p.m. for the kids and 4 p.m. for adults.

At 4:30 p.m. is a recipe contest followed by a Tahitian show at 6 p.m.

Not ringing your bell?


That’s all right.

At 11 a.m. the Beach Stage offers “Cookin’ With Cutty” wherein TV Celebrity Chef Cutty Cutler shows kids how to make fresh Hawaiian smoothies.

From noon to 12:30 p.m. enjoy Drums of the Pacific luau show from the Hyatt Regency Maui followed by Benoit Jazzworks from 1 to 2 p.m.

Fred’s Garage takes the stage from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. followed by the Air Force Band of the Pacific from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Lastly, acoustic duo Barefoot Minded wrap things up from 7 to 9 p.m.

Attendees can also anticipate food booths, games, and a beer garden. The event is free to the public and organizers note that parking is free as well.

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