The "Life is Sweet," dessert extravaganza held last month at The Shops at Wailea raised more than $25,000 for Best Buddies Hawaii, a volunteer group serving persons with disabilities.
Held in conjunction with The Shops at Wailea's 10th anniversary celebration, Life is Sweet pitted the top pastry chefs from a dozen of Wailea's restaurants against one another.
They competed for top honors and the title of "2011 signature dessert" for their creation. Each chef was teamed with a Best Buddies partner and the pair worked side-by-side in the kitchen.
Maureen McCormick and Barry Williams of the “Brady Bunch” TV show served as event judges and emcees for Life is Sweet.
Best Buddies Hawaii photo
First place honors were bestowed on Pastry Chef Ricky DeBoer of Fairmont Kea Lani Maui for his Kokoleka Lani Chocolate Heaven creation. Grand Wailea's Pastry Chef Natalie Wilkinson was runner-up for her Chocolate Volcano Mousse.
"DeBoer's winning entry was a test run of our new menu, called Lifestyle Cuisine Plus," says Fairmont's Kea Lani Maui's Director of Public Relations Wendy Harvey. "It's gluten free."
Actress Maureen McCormick, aka Marcia Brady from TV's "The Brady Bunch," served as event judge and emcee with fellow Brady alumni Barry Williams. Other judges included musician Mick Fleetwood, top U.S. PGA junior golfer Cassy Isagawa, South Maui Council Member Don Couch, chocolatier Melanie Boudar (Sweet Paradise Chocolatier) and Saigon Cafe's Jennifer Nguyen.
The event also featured inspirational speaker Karen Gaffney and entertainment from Hoku-winning and Grammy-nominated group Maunalua. In addition, former White House Chef Steven Horn (who worked under Presidents Bush and Obama), deemed all of the desserts, "outstanding."
Established in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies is a global volunteer movement, creating opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For more details, visit BestBuddiesHawaii.org.