It’s party time at Maui Film Fest

“Celebration time, c’mon!” were the first words out of Maui Film Festival Director Barry Rivers’ mouth when asked to sum up this year’s 15th annual Maui Film Festival at Wailea.

Culinary parties will loom larger than life throughout the festival from June 4 to 8 at various Wailea venues, and there will be plenty of movie stars to spot, gourmet food to eat and fun Pau Vodka martinis to sip, along with wine and Stella Artois beer and its latest Cidre product.

New this year are a limited number of Elite Nova Passes that will be sold to allow you to mingle with stars in the VIP Lounge on opening night.

In addition, note that Taste of Wailea and Taste of Chocolate are open only to those 21 and older. Photo IDs are required.

At the Seaside Cinema, Grand Wailea will provide hotel seating, so no outside chairs or coolers are allowed. Validated valet parking is complimentary.

Here’s the lineup: Ready, set, action!



From its perch overlooking the ocean and Neighbor Islands at Hotel Wailea, Capische? will kick things off with the Opening Night Twilight Reception, starting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 4.

The festive party will flow from upstairs in the restaurant down to its manicured lawn and then back inside to Capische’s sister restaurant, Il Teatro.

“Take a leisurely stroll through the garden at Capische?, sampling many selections of our localvore cuisine,” says the restaurant’s chef-owner Brian Etheredge. “Enjoy live music, cocktail luge and bump shoulders with Hollywood’s elite.”

Fun action stations are the Market, serving an array of fare; The Dirt to Mouth station will have beet, fennel and berry shooters; Hana cherry tomato salad; and crisp island fish in carrot vinaigrette.

Muscle your way up to the crudo station for fresh-as-it-gets poke, Caesar salad and calamansi and foie gras. At the grill station, chefs will cook ahi with Sicilian spices and ratatouille. Il Teatro will braise Maui Cattle Co. short ribs; and from Capische? will come al dente mushroom-truffle risotto, along with pasta pomodoro; and desserts of strawberry shortcake, Hana lilikoi tart; and Bomboloni donuts.

Benny Uyetake will perform island tunes.


The Willie Wonka-style extravaganza at Four Seasons Resort Maui’s Ocean Lawn will draw in chocolate lovers from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, June 6. So what will there be to indulge in?

“My favorite menu item is going to be ‘Dessert meets Cocktail,’ ” says the resort’s Pastry Chef Rhonda Ashton-Chavez. “I get to play with liquid nitrogen, and ice cream frozen from it will pair with an unbelievable cocktail created by our Beverage Manager Nick Martin.”

The end result will be a salted-caramel float infused with white-chocolate ice cream made a la minute with liquid nitrogen, then topped with a cocktail of Caramel Vodka and green apple puree.

At another station, you may imbibe in chocolate-raspberry martinis shot through an ice luge; at yet another, try the Julep & Stout with Maker’s Mark and Dekuper Chili and Chocolate Liqueur and more; and a fourth bar will feature Smoked Mole fashioned with Mezcal, Sauza Hornitos Reposado Tequila and chocolate.

“Chocolate is like wine,” Ashton-Chavez continues. “There’s complexity to its flavor, but it’s so simple to enjoy – and you never get tired of it!”

Enjoy mini-chocolate souffles, chocolate blinis, pot de’smores, mousse cones, truffles and cream and savory fare. The consummate pastry chef adds that this is a must-attend event. “Apart from being THE chocolate event on Maui, the venue on the Ocean Lawn is amazing and the cocktails are out of this world. It’s a great event to see and be seen, and to get your fill of decadence at the same time,” she continues.


Situated above Celestial Cinema at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, Taste of Wailea is the signature culinary event for the Maui Film Festival, tantalizing from 4:30 to 7 p.m. June 7.

Maui’s own Lily Meola and Tom Conway will entertain, 12 top Wailea chefs will cook up a storm, and icy Pau Vodka drinks, wines and beer will flow.

Bring your appetites, as each of the chefs will prepare at least two different dishes for you to savor.

Morimoto Maui at the new Andaz Maui at Wailea will participate for the first time with hamachi tacos with avocado and nuoc chom Vietnamese sauce. It will also dish up Kakuni 10-hour pork belly with rice congee and soy-scallion jus; and take it over the top with a dessert of Road to Matcha, a green tea brulee with Kula strawberries.

The new Fabiani’s Wailea will team in a booth with Mulligans on the Blue to make arancini con quattro formaggi; and mini Harp-battered fish and chip cones you can walk with and then devour.

MiGrant will join in for the first time with its sister restaurant, Mala Wailea, to wow you with seared ahi bruscetta; seared diver scallops with yuzu aioli on garlic crisps; and hibachi hangar steaks.

Matteo’s Osteria is also a new participant, pleasing palates with a misto salad of roasted beets with citrus, mint, shaved fennel and more; and Osso Buco alla Milanese topped with crisp kale chips.

Ko will tempt you with oyster tempura on kochujang slaw; and Keanae lilikoi ice with hibiscus. Four Seasons will lure you in with Keahole lobster sliders on Kula corn biscuits; and chicken Milanese with rocket salad and bufala mozzarella. Other participants are Spago, Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman, Joe’s, Gannon’s, Alan Wong’s Amasia, Tommy Bahama and Capische?

“This year’s Taste of Wailea is looking to be better than ever,” says Michael Rose, the general manager of Longhi’s Wailea and the event’s liquid coordinator.

“Pau Vodka will once again mix martinis, and you know that they will get the party rolling. Kimo Correa and Southern Wine and Spirits will return to add their expertise in pairing wines with the different foods. Stella Artois will serve ice cold beer on tap, so all the bases will be covered. As usual, Barry and Stella Rivers are putting on another great event.”


The box office opens at 6 p.m.; gates open at 6:30 nightly June 4 to 8 and film fare will be available from Gannon’s at this alcohol-free event.

“We will be offering fresh Caesar and Greek salads with or without chicken, wraps, and beef chili with rice,” says Gannon’s GM?Rebecca Schillaci. “We’ll also have nightly specials such as spinach and mushroom enchiladas, Bev’s famous meat loaf, chicken pot pie and beef brisket. Prices will range from $12 to $16.

The Maui Cookie Lady will serve a host of desserts and coffee drinks.

In addition, Gannon’s will once again do its Dinner and a Movie Promotion because of its close proximity to Celestial Cinema. Basically, you make a reservation and spend a minimum of $29 in food at the restaurant, and you will receive complimentary parking and a reserved beach chair in the Gannon’s Movie Section. This is not offered as part of its happy hour.


Maui Film Festival’s inaugural Seaside Cinema Music Cafe & Sunset Lounge will be oceanfront at Grand Wailea each night of the festival.

Gates will open at 6:30 p.m.; festivities start at 7 p.m.; movies at 8 p.m. Full bar and box dinners will be prepared by Executive Chef Eric Faivre and staff.

Choose from three, three-course picnic boxes at $25 each. As an example, Picnic No. 1 offers Kumu Farms greens, Richard Ha’s tomatoes, local goat cheese, Kalamata olives, English peas and pancetta made in house; sandwich of grilled organic chicken breast with jalapeno lime mayonnaise; fine artisan cheeses and Marcona almonds with rooftop honey.

Dessert picnics are four mini bites for $15. Or, opt for the Dinner and a Show at all Grand Wailea restaurants, which will serve special, pre-fixe meals. Maui’s own phenom Lily Meola will sing opening night before “Supermensch.”

“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” Rivers adds about the festival.