At the 23rd annual Maui Onion Festival slated for this weekend, fans of the sweet Maui Kula onion will salute the famous bulb with recipe contests, onion-eating contests, Hawaii celebrity chef demonstrations and food booths packed with plenty of tempting oniony eats.
In past years, festivalgoers at the event, based at Lahaina’s Whalers Village in West Maui, have gobbled up more than 1,000 pounds of fried, grilled and otherwise prepped Maui Kula onions, which are known for a mild, crunchy bite and rated among the sweetest bulbs in the world.
The fest, set for 9:45 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sat., May 5, will also feature Tahitian and Polynesian hula shows as well as live music performances, with the lineup ranging from jazz musicians to the Air Force Band of the Pacific.
Celebrity chef cooking demonstrations will start with Russell Sui (3660 on the Rise restaurant) at 10 a.m.; James McDonald (pictured, left) (Pacific O and I’O restaurants), 10:45 a.m.; Kevin Hanney (12th Ave. Grill and SALT restaurants), 11:30; D.K. Kodama representing his restaurants — Sansei and Cane & Taro — at 12:15 p.m.; David Paul Johnson of David Paul’s Island Grill, 1 p.m.; and Jojo Vasquez of the Banyan Tree Restaurant, 1:45 p.m.
At 4:30 p.m., all six chefs will assemble on the festival’s center stage to compete for the title of “Best Maui Onion Recipe.” Two rounds of raw-onion eating competition will precede the contest. The keiki (kids) division set to begin at 3:30 p.m. and the adult division, 4 p.m.
An annual ticketed pre-event onion pairing dinner is set for Fri., May 4 at Hula Grill Kaanapali. The three-course meal will feature Maui Kula onion, of course, paired with beer. For ticket information, call (808) 667-6636.
For a complete Maui Onion Festival schedule, click here.
Photos: Maui Onion Festival