Side Orders • Feb. 27, 2014

SPEND A LITTLE TIME . . . The minute he walked in the joint . . . they could tell he was a man of distinction . . . a real BIG spender.

Hey, that was actor Charlie Sheen spotted dining like he was two and a half men at Mala Wailea last week with his new fiance, recently retired adult-movie star Brett Rossi. According to onlookers in the room, he was a big tipper, too, generously giving more than three and a half times the amount of their tab.

When I was typing this celeb sighting, I got a call from the Food Network’s highly-rated “Restaurant Impossible.” The call was fairly hot on the heels of the “Top Chef” finale that filmed here, so you know Maui remains sought after with the Hollywood set.

“We’re looking for a restaurant that could use some help from our world-class team for our upcoming episode of ‘Paradise Impossible,’ ” says scouting and casting’s Matthew Klickstein.

“It’s one of the most popular series on Food Network and we’ll be airing our 100th episode very soon. Our celebrity chef, Robert Irvine – along with his team from HGTV – work to better restaurants that may need some assistance with everything from menu choices to organization to decor, staff training, marketing and more.”

Maui restaurateurs in need of help, who want the national exposure and an extremely high success rate after, should note their business must be located within a mile of the beach for consideration.

“If this sounds like it’s of interest, you may contact me via email at”

I also hear chefs who want a claim to fame may put their bragging in a bowl and enter their favorite raw fish recipe to win cash and prizes at Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest Sunday, March 16 at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa on the Big Island. For entry details, go to and click on blogs, then As Maui Dines.

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BITS AND PIECES . . . The Sea House, a landmark restaurant just a rubber slipper’s toss from crescent-shaped Napili Bay, will celebrate its 50th anniversary throughout 2014 with a variety of special offers and pricing, creative menu items and specialty drinks, and weekly giveaways of $50 certificates. The popular beachfront restaurant opened in 1963 as Tea House of the Maui Moon and was renamed Sea House restaurant in 1985.

One of the weekly winners will be entered into a year-end drawing for a romantic Na Hoku (“under the stars”) Dinner for two, a private five-course gourmet affair set outdoors on an oceanfront bluff. The drawings are open to anyone at least 21 years old. No purchase is necessary, and entry forms are available at the Sea House.

The dates are set for the 33rd annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. The four days of fun will flow June 12 to 15 at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Celebrity chefs will be Dean Fearing and Andrew Sutton.

“This festival has a great vibe and is a favorite for winemakers to attend and showcase their premium vintages and share their stories,” says Michael Jordan, host and master sommelier. “Our goal every year is to surpass the fun and festivities from the year prior, and I have no doubt we will top the stellar success of 2013.”

Celebrated chef Gary Danko was one of last year’s guest culinarians at Kapalua. Seats at his top-rated Restaurant Gary Danko at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco are so coveted, you have to make reservations two to three months in advance. Get ready for this year’s Fearing and Sutton, who will also be sure to dazzle you.

A native of Sweden, Mia Harriman is the new general manager of Alan Wong’s Amasia at Grand Wailea. She’s also led teams at Tommy Bahama in Wailea and consulted on Sugar House in Kaanapali. Do come in and check out the happy hour pupu – they rock!

On Tuesday, IHOP diners all over the country may enjoy a free short stack of the chain’s famous buttermilk pancakes on National Pancake Day. A portion of the day’s proceeds will benefit children’s hospitals.

Sorry that Basil Tomatoes Italian Grille, tucked away in Kaanapali, has closed. It was the last restaurant in the once vast Maui empire of the late Jon Applegate. I remember dining next to Marlon Brando in Jon’s Apple Annie’s (now Koho’s) one time.

But that’s a whole other Hollywood story.