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Honing my palate for the Maui Onion Festival

April 29, 2011 - Carla Tracy

Every May for the past couple of decades, I’ve been honored to serve as a judge in the Maui Onion Recipe Contest.

This year’s contest will be held as part of the 22nd Maui Onion Festival on Saturday, May 7 at Whalers Village Fine Shops & Restaurants, oceanfront at Kaanapali Beach Resort. The epicureans among us find it to be the highlight.

Hawaii’s top chefs are invited to participate in the contest and they’ll also perform demonstrations throughout the day. They include last year’s winner, Chef James McDonald of Pacific’o and I'o restaurants, who will wow the crowds, starting at 10 a.m.; followed by Chef Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s at 11 a.m.; Chef D.K. Kodama of Cane & Taro and Sansei Seafood and Sushi Bars at 1 p.m.; Chef Brian Etheredge of Capische at 2 p.m.; Chef Eric Arbogast of Cuarto at 5 p.m.; and Chef David Paul Johnson of David Paul’s Island Grill at 6 p.m.

All of these chefs will surely do justice to the pale golden-color globes with mild and crunchy flesh in their creative dishes.

At 3 p.m. all of the chefs will gather for the judging. Besides myself, the other 2011 judges include Shannon Wianecki, associate editor, Maui No Ka Oi magazine; Chris Speere, coordinator, Maui Culinary Academy; and Michael Horn, host of What’s Cooking Today on CRN Digital Talk Radio, which reaches 11-million homes nationwide.

During this time, festival organizers will announce the winner of the Maui Onion Challenge and the trip for two from Alaska Airlines. I’ve already posted another blog all about it.

If watching a culinary competition isn’t your cup of tea, take note the Maui Onion Festival always offers plenty of activities for the whole family.

“The fun kicks off at 9:45 a.m., featuring celebrity chefs and free food samplings, keiki and adult raw Maui onion eating contests, food and product booths, local music and entertainment, retail offerings, and free parking,” says Lisa Donlon, the festival organizer. “These activities continue throughout the day, wrapping up at 9 p.m.”

This year’s visiting emcee is Manolo Morales of KHON 2-TV in Honolulu. He’ll introduce the Air Force Band of the Pacific, impressive with its big band sounds. Tahitian hula performers ensure perfect photo ops. Even a magician will entertain the crowds. Literally thousands of people turn out for the fun in the sun.

Of course, the Maui Onion Growers Association will be there, deep-frying sweet Maui onion rings in giant woks. Bring your appetites.

For more details, visit Whalers Village.


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Blog Photos

Last year's winner was James McDonald of Pacific'o and I'o, pictured here with his family.