What a glorious celebration Ka’anapali Fresh Festival is of the relationship between Maui farmers, fishermen, ranchers and chefs. For three days the agriculture, seafood and ranching community ( there are 800 farms on Maui) is brought to the forefront as talented island chefs create an abundance of flavorful, fresh pupu, dishes, deserts and drinks at Ka’anapali Beach Resort.
The mission is simple; to ensure the viability and future of Maui’s farms and ranches. Preservation of the lifestyle is also key. Who in Hawaii and many parts of the world has not heard about the famous Hawaiian cowboys; the “Paniolo?” In Maui they are usually based in the Paniolo town of Makawao on the slopes of Haleakala crater.
The rich volcanic soils of Haleakala are the perfect place to grow, nurture and bloom. The famous Kula strawberries grow year round preferring the cool evenings and dryer elevations. Surfing Goat Dairy is located at a lower, arid elevation and produces award winning goat cheeses, one of only two goat dairies in Hawaii.
Ocean Vodka grows organic sugarcane and distills it with pure deep ocean water into vodka in its state-of-the-art facility. They have just released their new rum. I’d love to try a Ocean Rum Mai Tai garnished with a piece of Maui Gold Pineapple. Maui Pineapple shut down after nearly 100 years operating with two thousand workers and producing on average two hundred fifty thousand tons of fruit per year. Some of the executives formed a new company changing the model to ” custom fruit” taking the land from seven thousand acres to one thousand but producing a higher quality product for as few as five wholesale customers. Go on a tour with Maui Pineapple tours and you will taste the sweetest pineapple you have ever tasted.
One of the signature events at Ka’anapali Fresh 2014 was ” Ka’anapali From Range To Sea” which paired a farmer with a chef. Chefs created spectacular dishes to showcase the product and I was a judge of the 12 dishes created ( out of 24 presented to the public) . Winner of the Maui No Ka Oi Magazine gold first prize was Chef Raymond Nicasio of Sheraton Maui Resort and his farmer Sylvestre Tumbaga of Syl’s Produce growing the sweet corn and tomatoes used.
Why not plan on attending next year? The beautiful sands of the beach, glorious colors of the ocean and the welcoming resorts and hotels not to mention the incredible Maui bounty await you.
Note: Featured image shot from my room at the Hyatt Regency Maui