What the Heck?
COURTESY OF RON PAIK
Wayne Turner of Waxahachie, Texas, danced with Miss Chili Pepper Danielle Fulmeron on Memorial Day at Dr. Jack Scaff's Hawaii State Chili Cookoff. CLICK FOR LARGE
It's a hot time at the Hawaii Chili Cookoff
There was a mariachi band in the carport, a bluegrass band in the living room. A barbershop quartet on the back lanai, next to the margarita bar, sang "Don't Blame Me" to a young woman in a cowboy hat and a yellow miniskirt, wearing a banner that read "Miss Chili Pepper."
The Memorial Day gathering, at the Round Top home of Dr. Jack Scaff and wife Donna, is not just a party. It was the Hawaii State Chili Cookoff, drawing teams from as far away as Ohio, West Virginia and Texas. Gray-bearded Wayne Turner of Waxahachie, Texas, showed up in full Western regalia, looking remarkably like Roy Rogers' sidekick, Gabby Hayes.
Why would teams fly all the way to Hawaii and pay $92 to cook up 2 quarts of red or green chili in Scaff's driveway? The only prizes are ribbons. However, Scaff's cookoff is an officially sanctioned regional competition by the International Chili Society. Win a regional and you qualify for the World's Championship Chili Cookoff in Omaha, first prize $25,000.
Amid the food, drink and dancing, there was some serious judging, presided over by a pair of Ph.D. nutritionists, Alan Titchenal and Joannie Dobbs.
Pressed into service tasting 17 fiery red chilis, I survived only by taking a drink of milk between bites. The red chili winner, to some grumbling by local contestants, was Mick Joplin of Palacios, Texas. Was he happy to have a shot at the $25,000 in Omaha? "God knows I need the money," Joplin said. "But it may not be as much fun as this."
Bam! Like fireworks? You may want to be on Waikiki Beach tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. The beach at the Royal Hawaiian will be packed with 2,000 salespeople from Royal Cosmetics of Japan, which is paying for a fireworks display. But since they are being fired from boats anchored off the Royal Hawaiian and the Natatorium, the elaborate fireworks will be visible up and down the beach.
Tommy Likos of Fireworks by Grucci promises the show will be "intense," including the largest firework ever exploded in Hawaii, a 24-inch shell.
Coming Home: The basement lobby of downtown's Executive Centre is usually deathly still on a Saturday night. Not so last weekend, when the new Hukilau Honolulu threw a packed and rollicking restaurant opening.
Hukilau brings local food back home from San Francisco. Owner Kurt Osaki left Kauai for the Bay Area 18 years ago. There, his Osaki Design Group has created logos for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Baltimore Ravens, the San Francisco 49ers and the UH Warriors.
In 2001, he and two partners began the Hukilau San Francisco as a gathering place for ex-islanders, someplace to eat saimin and chicken katsu. The restaurant expanded to San Jose, Palo Alto and now Honolulu.
What's a graphic designer doing in the restaurant business? It's a family tradition. Osaki's grandmother, Yoneko Yamamoto, still gets up every morning at 3 a.m. to make the noodles for Kauai's famous Hamura Saimin.
Cool Blessings: When was the last time you got your dog or cat a shave ice? From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, the Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha shrine in Kalihi is offering free pet blessings.
To keep the pets cool, the shrine's Axel Obara has ordered a dozen blocks of ice -- to make shave ice for the animals, doused with Iams Sauce and topped with tidbits. "We tried it on the shrine's guard dogs, and they went crazy," he said. "Animals love shave ice, same as we do."
Bright and Happy People: When she was a shy ninth-grader at Castle High School, KITV's Jodi Leong was registered for a theater class by clerical error. "I was going to drop it and take French," she says. Then she met teacher-director Ron Bright, and went on to star in several of his musicals and become a leading light in local theater. "He changed my life," says Leong. "Ron Bright grows happy people."
Dozens of happy people -- Bright alumni all -- will star in Bright's "Spotlight on the Arts" revue next weekend at Paliku Theatre. Leong will emcee, along with fellow alum John Bryan, who's flying from his job as a casting director for Universal Pictures Japan.
The $50-a-ticket show will raise operating funds for Paliku Theatre. "Everyone knows that the arts, and especially arts education, now have to earn their own way," says the 73-year-old Bright. "Come, buy a ticket. It's a great show and the money will keep us in survival mode."
Speed Racer: Aloha Tower Marketplace will be filled today with speedy vehicles of all descriptions, from Ferraris to go-karts. The Oahu Motorsports Advisory Council is putting on the free car show to drum up support for a new racetrack.
Expect bands and food booths, but no actual racing. Instructions for the exhibitors read: "No staging, no racing, no displays of speed or power will be allowed! The police will be on hand, and you will receive a ticket if you do participate in any acts of recklessness!"
At the Bishop Museum, you'll find yet another race car, Jeg Coughlin's bright yellow Oldsmobile hot rod. It's there to celebrate a new exhibit, "Speed."
"Our staff is having so much fun, we're having trouble keeping them off the exhibits," says the museum's Charlie Aldinger. You can race model cars or speed down a virtual downhill ski course. If you've ever wanted to crash a car at speed into a wall, you can do that too. "Our displays are all virtual," says Aldinger. "But you can go as fast as you want. We aren't going to give anyone tickets here."