Michelle Ramos Hawaii Diary

Michelle Ramos

They got wet, but
the rain couldn’t
cancel charity effort

Mother Nature couldn't stop the 11,000 walkers from participating in the 26th Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association's Visitor Industry Charity Walk on Saturday. A record amount of $946,000 was collected, topping last year's amount by $136,000. Among the walkers was mayoral candidate Mufi Hannemann. Hannemann said he first participated in the walk in 1992 and was there to "show support for the visitor industry." The walk "helps a lot of charities," he said, and "this is the only walk where you get food and drinks." ... Mahalo to Baron Obata for encouraging our group -- Angela Alday, Mio Higashimoto, and Star-Bulletin staffers Donica and Jason Kaneshiro -- to get a little exercise early on very rainy Saturday. The walk began at 6. ...

How much would you pay for a chocolate cake? Those attending the Toddler Program's 5th annual Silent Auction earlier this month were willing to pay a couple hundred dollars per confection, raising more than $35,000 to be used for the school's renovation project. Cynthia Bartfeld, director of the school, said turnout is always good at the fund-raiser. This year, 280 people attended the $75 dinner. How much did some of the decadent items go for? Specialties by Clarice's rum cake sold for $100, JJ's chocolate pyramid cake brought in $200, and Sunset Grill's new Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake went for $210. Chef James Gillespie from Sunset Grill promises that the cake won't be that expensive when it hits the restaurant's menu. ...

Hawaii chefs Beverly Gannon and Peter Merriman took advantage of their James Beard Foundation nominations to travel to New York City a couple of weeks ago. Both attended the awards show -- a black tie affair that's like the Oscars for chefs -- and ate their way around the city. Merriman said he'd never quite grasped why New York was so sacred to foodies, until he sampled the restaurants' fare. "These guys are really good and they do everything right." He was also pleased to see the diversity in chefs recognized as best in their regions. "The complexion of chefs that won has changed. There were women, Asians and other ethnic groups. It's just really cool." As for the irrepressible Gannon: "Just to be in a room with all the nominees was exciting and a once-in-a-lifetime experience," she said. "Until next year." The two chefs lost in the category of Best Chef of the Pacific Northwest/Hawaii to Eric Tanaka of Dahlia Lounge in Seattle. ...

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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