As Hawaii opens its doors for transpacific travel this week, Hawaii Food & Wine Festival also prepares for three weeks of hybrid Festival events in November to support our restaurant and hospitality industries. While our events will look and feel different from years past, they will be conducted in the same spirit to uplift and put a spotlight on Hawaii as a culinary destination featuring local and national celebrity chefs cooking with our local agricultural and seafood products.

Because of the pandemic, we had considered cancelling our events, but have decided to proceed because our restaurant and visitor industry partners, as well as our farmers, ranchers and fishermen, need our support now more than ever.  Safety will be a top priority and we will be hosting our events in restaurants to comply with all current City and County of Honolulu rules and mandates.  Tickets are being sold as reservations at different times with a maximum guest count per table set at five.

Photos: Dane Nakama & Reid Shimabukuro/Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, 2011, 2019

Here are my insights to what makes these select events so special:

> DTRIC Presents Hawaii’s Best Mocktails – Lobster rolls are a THING, not just here in Hawaii, but a trend across borders where people just can’t get enough of them. We’ve lined up chef Jon Matsubara for his “wait-in-line” Feast Lobster Roll as the nosh pairing that will go with your mocktails concocted by Hawaii’s top mixologists.

> SpikEd! – Are you ready to eat and talk food policy? This event pairs chefs and political mavens, Ed Kenney and Spike Mendelsohn, for a four-course menu that they’ve dreamed up to be not only delicious, but spiked with sustainable ingredients that make for good table conversation. Kauai Shrimp, Pono Pork, Ho Farm veggies, etc., all speak to food sustainability and sustainable practices in our islands.

> Masqued – With trick-or-treating and dress-up a no-go for many this year, we invite you to show up in your best “mask” or costume for a night of suspense and mystery. Chefs Rafael Lunetta, Michelle Karr-Ueoka, Wade Ueoka and Lance Kosaka create this fun menu of dishes where looks may be deceiving. The truth will be told only with your first bites.

> Native Feast – We celebrate food and culture by bringing Native American chef, Sean Sherman and Native Hawaiian chef, Kealoha Domingo, together to share their food traditions and culinary practices behind the featured dishes on their menu. Maui Brewing Company will also feature specialty beers crafted only for this event to pair with each dish.

> Duck, Duck, Goose and Amor: A Tribute to Ed Morita – This event holds a special place in my heart because Ed Morita was a dear friend to the culinary industry who I first met more than 10 years ago. Having injured his hand, Ed had taken some time off from the kitchen and using his writing skills helped craft a fact-based story that helped our efforts to defeat a bill at the State legislature that would have banned the sale and distribution of foie gras in Hawaii.

Finally, I want to also want to mention my very favorite annual event, HMAA Presents Keiki in the Kitchen® which will be held virtually this year as Dress Up & Decorate with #HFWF. With trick-or-treating potentially unsafe for some families, Dress & and Decorate is a fun, free activity for children where they can show off their Halloween costumes and participate in a cupcake decorating with chef Mark Noguchi and his family, bakers Nixon Diabolos of Madcakez and Cori Nakamoto of Cori’s Dream Cakes, and Foodland Hawaii’s own pastry chef, Brian Sung.

For parents who are too busy to bake, Foodland Hawaii is offering HFWF cupcake kits for $35 that includes everything you need:

  • HFWF Treat Street trick-or-treat reusable canvas tote
  • HFWF Keiki in the Kitchen® reusable utensil kit
  • Three vanilla cupcakes and three chocolate cupcakes
  • Four 12-inch pastry piping bags
  • Four assorted disposable pastry tips
  • Four assorted frosting containers in orange, black, green and white
  • Variety of decorations including Halloween sprinkles, non-perils pearls and assortment of Halloween candies

We invite you to join us for our 2020 events that will support our culinary, agricultural and hospitality industries. We ask you to continue to practice the social responsibility of washing your hands, wearing your mask and social distancing so that we can keep businesses and economy open.

We’re ready for #HFWF20… Let the good times roll.

With aloha,

Denise Yamaguchi