Maui Food and Dining

Ulupalakua Beckons With 2nd Annual State Chili Cook-Off

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By Vanessa Wolf

Ulupalakua Ranch elk burger

Ulupalakua Ranch Grill’s elk burger. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

This Sunday, July 20, Ulupalakua Ranch invites you to “come on up” for their Sunday Drive event.

Unique on this occasion is the 2nd Annual CASI Hawai‘i State Chili Championship Cook Off, held  from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Competitors have already registered and will be cooking on site.

However, from 12:15 to 2 p.m., visitors can purchase a $5 tasting kit to sample the entries and place their vote for their favorite chili in the “anything goes” (in terms of ingredients, at least) People’s Choice category.


In addition to People’s Choice, chili masters from near and far will compete for the Best Restaurant and official CASI Rules chili champion crowns.

Don Miller of Makawao is returning to defend his 2013 title and the competition is expected to be fierce as 2008 Terlingua International Chili Championship (TICC) winner Susan Dean from Johnson City, Texas, and Texas Men’s State Champion Alan Dean are also competing.

The winning three Hawai‘i resident cooks will be invited to compete at the legendary TICC in Texas on November 1, 2014. 

In addition to the opportunity to size up the People’s Choice entries, a limited number of judging seats are also available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.


Winners will be announced at 3 p.m. and proceeds benefit the Maui 4-H Livestock Association.

Simultaneously, Maui’s Country Knights perform on the grounds of Maui’s Winery. The Knights feature Herb Andrews on vocals and guitar, Rob Loney on bass, and Jon Melia on drums.

Described as having a “relaxing, island-style country feel”, you may already be familiar with their most-requested original song “Maui, You’re On My Mind.” 

Meanwhile, over at the Ranch Store, Bradda Francis — a full native Hawaiian known as the “Hawaiian Elvis” — is providing his own style of melodic musical entertainment from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Speaking of the Ranch Store, if you’re not in the mood for chili, perhaps chiles are more to your liking.

The Grill’s Executive Chef Will Munder has created a spicy new menu featuring Anaheim Chile Enchiladas with Queso Fresco, Steak Tacos with Pasilla Pepper Salsa and Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos.

There is even an Ancho Chile Pepper and Double Chocolate Tarte with Cinnamon Whip Crème dessert, as well as old standbys like local fresh beef and elk burgers.

The event also marks the debut of Ulupalakua Ranch Store’s own Pulehu BBQ Sauce and No Bull Hot Sauce.


Made from local ingredients and created fresh in-house, this is your first chance to take some home.

Need something sweet after all that?

Husband and wife chili enthusiasts Larry Lutz and Christine Vestfal — the makers of Shaka Pops Maui — are behind the chili cook off.

If you have ever wondered how many pops you can eat, an opportunity to answer the burning question awaits during the Shaka Pop-Eating Competition at the Ranch Store.

Although specific details on the frozen confection feeding frenzy weren’t available, it is clear that youth from Maui 4-H will be selling pops, with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit the 4-H program.

Were you thinking more of something sweet with a little kick?

Just across the road at the King’s Cottage Tasting Room, Maui’s Winery is offering new kama‘aina pricing all day for all visitors.

The winery recently brought home two prestigious medals from the 2014 Los Angeles International Wine Competition: a Gold for the Lokelani Sparkling Rosé, and a Silver for the 2011 Plantation Red.

In celebration, the winery is offering low celebratory pricing on both wines for the day.

In addition, tasting room staff will offer timely advice on “Pairing with Heat,” covering the dos and don’ts of pairing wine with various levels of spice. 

Popsicles, wine, chili and chiles: all you need to do is drive.

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