MAUI FILM FESTIVAL
COURTESY RANDALL MICHELSON
Tables covered the golf course at Saturday's Taste of Wailea, where Maui resorts and restaurants prepared samples of their finest dishes at active cooking stations. Patrons enjoyed open seating overlooking the ocean.
Dinner and some movies
Three gourmet events add elegance and excitement to the Maui Film Festival
WAILEA, Maui » Colored lights, a nearly topless living -and -breathing mermaid posing poolside and rows of chocolate -toffee mousse popsicles set the tone for the extravagant Taste of Chocolate at the Four Seasons Resort Maui last week. It was one of three gourmet events at the Maui Film Festival, which featured some of the best cuisine on the upscale Wailea coast.
"It's the most spectacularly catered film festival I've ever been to," said Honolulu-based filmmaker Brett Wagner.
COURTESY RANDALL MICHELSON
Chocolate-toffee popsicles lined a table at the Taste of Chocolate on the grounds of the Four Seasons Resort Maui. The chocolate affair was one of three gourmet cuisine events at the Maui Film Festival last week.
"I want people to enjoy chocolate in different forms, and every year I try to do something different," said Rhonda Ashton, executive pastry chef for the Four Seasons. Though she particularly enjoyed the warm dark-chocolate mousse, Ashton felt the most exciting concoction of the evening was the chocolate espresso souffles, prepared in the outdoor, oceanfront venue in mini convection ovens. "It was quite successful. How often do you go to an event and see souffles made to order?"
Warm goat cheese dipped in chocolate added to the variety of textures, temperatures and shapes available to anyone who could stay up for the 10 p.m. commencement of the affair. Most of all, Ashton said, she wanted to leave people with "that sense of excitement about being at the event and not really knowing what to expect."
AN initial reception last Wednesday kicked off the festival with cuisine from the Fairmont Kea Lani's new restaurant, Ko. Open just three weeks, Ko -- which means sugar cane -- provides "an opportunity to educate our visitors on what Hawaii is all about, and how it was," said Chris Luedi, general manager of the Kea Lani.
The restaurant serves "plantation-inspired cuisine," with influences from Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino and Portuguese cultures (though one wonders if people working the cane fields dined on grilled shrimp over buckwheat soba noodles or coconut-curry lamb chops marinated and grilled with mango mint salsa).
Even Hawaii staples, such as sushi and spring rolls, were presented with a unique flair that inspired repeat visits to the active cooking stations.
Braised Kobe beef short ribs with grilled white corn, sweet pepper and spinach salad, and lobster tempura with romesco sauce and corn ice cream from the Grand Wailea Resort greeted guests at the Taste of Wailea on Saturday evening, near the end of the festival.
Tents on the Wailea Gold & Emerald Golf Course overlooking the Celestial Cinema and the ocean each hosted a different resort or restaurant preparing and serving dishes in small portions. Wines from New Zealand, Heineken beer and Ocean vodka flowed freely (as a result, families should know nobody under 21 is admitted to this event under any circumstances) as people rotated among the stations.
Mulligan's and Matteo's combined forces to serve potato gnocchi with wild mushroom ragu, pine nuts and shaved parmigiano. A spicy ahi poke cone came from Spago and a spicy lamb pita from Mala. The lines, which moved quickly in general, grew long while people awaited a tender piece of lobster from Ko. So many additional choices made it nearly impossible to sample all of them.
Upcountry resident Kathryn Maberry said she attends various events associated with the Maui Film Festival each year, and especially enjoys the Taste of Wailea for the opportunity to sample a variety of dishes from area restaurants. Combining high-end cuisine -- all served outdoors -- with the festival's movies conspire to make it one of the most unique film events in the world. Fortunately for Maui residents, it's all right in their back yard.