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HAWAII Magazine Guide to Annual Hawaii Food Festivals

guide_Hawaii_food_festivalsPicture yourself at a beachside barbecue, on the lawn at aptly named Paradise Cove, Oahu. As the sun sets through the waving palms, you wander from food tent to food tent—and realize this is not just any barbecue.

There’s roast duck with red wine teriyaki sauce. A seafood pouch with shrimp, clams, mahimahi and honshimeiji mushrooms. Maui Cattle Co. beef and smoked ahi. Moi, the fish of Hawaiian royalty, with cherry tomato jus. Ramen noodles and mushrooms in truffle broth. More and more, cooked right in front of you by some of Hawaii's most noted chefs.

In another tent, Gerhardt Reisacher of Napa’s Delectus Winery is pouring his top-of-the-line red, the $135-a-bottle CuvĂ©e Julia. Steve Reynolds of Reynolds Family Winery will take you through his highly regarded Silverado Trail varietals, from chardonnay to cabernet. Eight major California wineries have sent their best wines.

Don’t drink wine? There are chilled bottles of microbrewed beer and ale from Hawaii Nui Brewing. Distiller Mark Nigbur of Pau Maui Vodka has flown over to shake and pour martinis. Not to mention bubbly mango and pineapple soda from Waialua Soda Works.

guide_Hawaii_food_festivalsThere’s live music from the stage. Just when you’re sitting back, perhaps sipping a fine glass of wine, there are not one, but two fashion shows—one of Tahitian-inspired aloha wear and another of bikinis from Hawai‘i designer Honey Girl.

Sound like a good time? This event is the Paradise Beachside Barbecue, and it’s only one of the four galas in Oahu’s premier food festival, Hawaii Food and Wine Paradise (pictured, above), held annually over three days.

And joining the celebrated Hawaii chefs at the 2011 Hawaii Food and Wine Paradise? Food Network celebrity chef Anne Burrell of Iron Chef America and Worst Cooks in America. (Don't worry. Burrell's not one of the latter.)

Next festival: May 20 & 21, 2011, www.hawaiifoodandwineparadise.com.

Here’s even better news: Hawaii Food and Wine Paradise is only one of dozens of culinary festivals held in the Islands each year. People in Hawaii love to throw a party, and a festival here of any kind usually has food, often lots of it.

Here and on the following pages, HAWAII Magazine presents our guide to the biggest and best annual culinary festivals in the Islands.


Hale Aina Awards

In addition to Hawaii Food and Wine Paradise, there’s another Oahu festival that consistently draws top chefs. Honolulu Magazine bestows its annual Hale Aina Awards on the top restaurants in the state—so, of course, it’s the state’s award-winning chefs who come together for the Hale Aina Awards Gala on the lawn of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Each chef knows he’s cooking for his peers and rises to the occasion, making you also the beneficiary of their most dazzling culinary skills.

Next event: November 2011, www.HonoluluMagazine.com.


Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

Hawaii Regional Cuisine co-founding chef Roy Yamaguchi (of Roy's Restaurants fame) is spearheading the first Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, set for late September. Yamaguchi is looking to put together a three-evening fest, with foodie events spread across three Waikiki hotels: Halekulani, Hilton Hawaiian Village and Waikiki Edition. The fest is still in the planning stages, but expect top Hawaii chefs to be there, along with a few Mainland and international chefs, and as many Hawaii farmers as can attend.The goal? Promoting sustainable agriculture in the Islands and promoting the Islands as an international culinary mecca.

First event: Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 2011, website coming soon. 


Joy of Sake

Joy of Sake

If you’re a fan of Japanese sake, Honolulu boasts America’s largest and most important sake event, Joy of Sake. Joy of Sake is so well-reputed, it now journeys to San Francisco, New York and Tokyo, but the Honolulu event is the original and biggest. Of course, there’s gourmet food at both the wine and sake festivals, with an emphasis on Japanese fare at Joy of Sake.

Next event: August 2011, www.joyofsake.com.


Waikiki Spam Jam

Not all Island food events are serious gourmet affairs. Some are just fun. For instance, Hawaii has the highest per capita consumption of Spam in the country. So why not throw a massive street party to celebrate Hormel’s pink luncheon loaf? Enter the annual Waikiki Spam Jam. Last year, 20,000 people showed up at Waikiki Spam Jam to hear free entertainment from two stages and sample Spam in all varieties, from the ever popular Spam musubi to such variations as Cajun Spam and Spamokopita.

Next event: April 30, 2011, www.spamjamhawaii.com.


Hawaii Fishing and Seafood Festival. Photo: John Heckathorn

Hawaii Fishing and Seafood Festival

You can’t live by Spam alone. Fishing is part of the Island culture, and the annual Hawaii Fishing and Seafood Festival draws thousands to Honolulu Harbor’s Pier 38, where you can learn about Hawaii seafood, peruse almost every kind of fishing supply imaginable, and sample food from innumerable booths.

Next festival: October 2011, www.hawaiifishingfestival.com.

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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
Aloha Festivals 2009 ho‘olaulea block party, parade coming up. Here’s the schedule.
Aloha Festivals sets dates for 2010 events
Aloha Festivals 2010 hoolaulea block party, floral parade happening this week. Where to go.
Aloha Festivals adds more events to 2010 schedule

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