Side Orders • June 26, 2014

AROUND THE TOWN . . . Sports fans, gamblers and lovers of exotic cuisine will want to play at the Poker with the Pros extravaganza from 6 to 10 this evening in the Grand Ballroom of Grand Wailea.

For $100 per person, you may play poker with the likes of Damian Williams of the Miami Dolphins and Jeremy Tyler of the New York Knicks. (These star athletes are in town for the fourth annual Night of Shooting Stars event at Lahaina Civic Center on Saturday.)

The Grand’s theme is “exotic Moroccan,” and Executive Chef Eric Faivre will transport your taste buds straight into the heart of Tangier with bold pomegranate-glazed carrots; hummus with flat breads; grilled fresh fish with fennel and preserved lemons; grilled lamb charmoula; and roasted beets with mint and cumin.

Desserts such as Meskouta (yogurt cake with fresh mint tea) and Shamiya (semolina topped with date-almond glaze) will take it over the top. So will decor of lit trees, lotus bud glow sculptures, intimate lounge seating under pergolas with hanging Moroccan stained glass and star-shaped lanterns; DJ music and uplighting. Visit or buy at the Grand’s concierge desk.

Speaking of exotic middle Eastern fare, the next Persian Cooking Class will be held Saturday evening in Kaanapali at a cost of $100 per person. The menu of eggplant and goat cheese dip, Tabriz-style; lamb-and-beef meatballs with fresh herbs and apricots; and Persian ice cream with raisin cookies will be taught by Paris Nabavi in his home. Chef-owner of Sangrita’s and Pizza Paradiso restaurants, Nabavi does this Persian series to benefit Grow Some Good, with all proceeds going to its school garden programs.

By the way, Nabavi will introduce live flamenco music at Sangrita Grill & Cantina from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday. Sip a margarita and eat a taco as Indo & Avi explore jazz, blues, Latin and flamenco styles.

The Wharf Cinema Center in Lahaina recently celebrated the grand opening of three of its newest businesses all located in the plaza area of the mall. Makani Kai Island Grill & Bar is fast gaining a reputation for serving local food and fresh fish, delivered by boats out of Lahaina Harbor. India Express does authentic Indian cooking; and Shaka Vibe Bubble Tea and Treats is making a storm of “tornado taters.” You’ve got to try them to believe it. A special blessing was offered by Kahu Kapono Kamaunu, with blowing of the conch shell by student Ua Bradshaw.


MORE IN STORE . . . Calling all of you cooks from Hawaii and beyond to battle for supremacy with your best “bowl of red.”

Yes, the second Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) Hawai’i State Championship Chili Cookoff will be firing up enthusiasm on Sunday, July 20, Upcountry at Ulupalakua Ranch.

Prizes include a hand-painted cook stove donated by Shaka Pops Maui for the first place winner, as well as gifts from Ulupalakua Ranch and Maui’s Winery. The top three winners may compete at the famous Terlingua International Chili Championship in Texas on Nov. 1. Maui’s cookoff will be held along with Ulupalakua’s Sunday Drive that brings locals and visitors Upcountry to enjoy a day of island entertainment, food and fun.

Chef Catherine Blake will teach Cooking for Brain Power at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Cameron Center in Wailuku.

The new, 35,000-square-foot Foodland Kehalani just opened its doors Wednesday, and free samplings continue on the hour from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Sunday. Sample yummy items from the deli, the bakery, R. Fields and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Win gift cards, goodie bags with $25 purchases, sip free sodas, ask Riki Inzano to make your kids free balloon animals and more. Fresh from an appearance on the Hallmark Channel, Corporate Chef Keoni Chang will make his famous Korean gogi hot dog with kim chee slaw. Pastry Chef Rick Chang and others will keep the samples coming. The fun and deals continue intermittently through August. Stay tuned.