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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

I had been away during Hawaii Food & Wine for the past couple years and was looking forward to being able to join in on the fun this year. Food & Wine brings some of the top chefs from across the country to Oahu for a week of fun. Due to work, I wasn’t able to fully participate, but it was definitely a week to remember.

Most Saturdays I wake up early and help with The Pig & The Lady at the KCC Farmers’ Market. On the Saturday of Food & Wine, my favorite chef from the Continental US, Chris Cosentino came for breakfast with his family. It was a real treat to serve food I believe in to Offal Chris and they enjoyed their meal.

That night, I attended the “Taste Our Love for the Land” event at the Hawaii Convention Center. There were 19 brilliant chefs cooking up their best and you could revisit their stations as much as you wanted. The huge assortment of wine, craft cocktails, and beer helped wash down each tasty bite.

The chefs took a variety of approaches and it was a treat to see such talented minds going for it! I didn’t get to taste everything, but there were a couple stations I paid a few visits. My top three were: Mark Noguchi’s Kaneohe He`e, Russell Moore’s Grilled goat-king trumpet mushroom kofte kebab, and Ed Kenney’s “Grilled Pa’i’ai and Kukui Nut Broth.”

Gooch’s tako was tender, fresh, and had perfect company courtesy of Ho Farms. Goat was a popular protein and Hawaii’s own Sheldon Simeon laid down a mean kilawen. Russell Moore’s goat kebab was really, really good. In a world of tako, goat, and uni, Town’s Ed Kenney and Dave Caldiero served up a true taste of their love for the land. Pa’i’ai is hand-pounded taro, which was the first staple crop of Hawaii, and I don’t think there is a more signature ingredient in Hawaiian cuisine. The dish was earthy, delicious, and told a story.

As good as the food (and drink) was, the company equalled it; there were chefs, farmers, and food enthusiasts from across the globe and many key players in Hawaii’s food future. It was a well-lubricated, four-hour foodgasm in a beautiful setting with tons of great people.

While I only managed to get a taste of Hawaii Food & Wine, it was one of the best bites I’ve ever had. Hawaii is a great place to be.

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