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“Best of the Fest” winners announced

June 12, 2013 - Carla Tracy

The Best of the Fest winners at Sunday’s Seafood Festival have been announced. It was all part of the 32nd annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, held June 6 through 9 at the resort.

The contest itself is sponsored by Maui No Ka ‘Oi magazine, and judges included Diane Haynes Woodburn, owner and publisher; Pat Okubo, master sommelier, fine wine specialist and wine educator for Young’s Market; and Alix Buchter, associate publisher.

In a blind tasting, the judges awarded the “Best of the Fest, Gold” to Maui Culinary Academy for its Maui takoyaki with roasted pineapple soy glaze, shichimi aioli, pickled ginger, bonito flakes and micro greens.

“I was very surprised and humbled to be called onstage . . . knowing the caliber of chefs who were in the blind-tasting competition.” says Kristen Dougherty, Maui Culinary Academy and Sodexo Catering chef and manager. “Participating in the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival was a great Maui Culinary Academy team experience, [as] each student was driven to represent MCA and the University of Hawai‘i–Maui College at the highest level.”

The award included a $250 gift card by presenting sponsor VISA, two nights’ accommodations at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, two rounds of golf or a golf lesson at the Kapalua Golf Academy, and an autographed bottle of Word Wine presented by host Master Sommelier Michael Jordan.

Representing I’o restaurant in Lahaina, Chef James McDonald led his team to win the “Best of the Fest, Silver” for their farmer’s market summer salad with warm sauté of organic vegetables, island herbs, a pixie-dust spice concoction and pork belly cooked in the sous vide method for 40 hours.

“The dish involved several different cooking techniques”; it was “truly a labor of love putting this dish together, showcasing the greatest island ingredients available. . . . This was definitely a team effort,” says McDonald.

This year, a new “Best of the Fest, Fan Favorite” award was introduced. Seafood Festival attendees voted for the best overall booth of the night, selecting the Terrace at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.

In its 32nd year, the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival continues to bring together star chefs and world-class vintners from across the country in an intimate format that invites interaction with festival attendees. The KWFF experience is the ultimate celebration of the good life in one of Maui’s most beloved destinations. Dates for next year have been set at June 5 to 8, 2014.

For more information, visit Kapalua Wine & Food Festival Website.


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Maui Takoyaki by Maui Culinary Academy. Winner of the “Best of the Fest, Gold” award.