GRAND SLAM . . . Sure, this term is about winning at sports events. It also applies to a top achievement in any field. So give it up to Grand Wailea for enticing superstar Oahu chef Alan Wong to come to its resort and open a restaurant.
While the news been reported in this column before, the official release just was sent out from the powers that be in Wailea.
"We are thrilled to welcome Alan and his organization to the Grand Wailea ohana," says Matt Bailey, the resort's managing director. "We strive to offer the best to our guests - and Alan is exactly that, a master chef. His expertise and passion for food will elevate the already memorable dining experiences here."
“Our goal has always been to have our guests ‘taste Hawaii,’ ” says Chef Alan Wong, who will open a restaurant in the former Kincha in Grand Wailea in early 2012.
MAR ANN CHANGG photo
One of the original 12 Hawaii Regional Cuisine chefs, Wong is also one of only two James Beard Award winners in the state. Named "Best Chef of the Year" for the Pacific Northwest in 1996, he has two restaurants on Oahu, the original Alan Wong's on King Street, a favorite of President Obama's; and The Pineapple Room in Ala Moana Shopping Center.
The former Kincha at Grand Wailea is to be the location for Wong's third restaurant in the Hawaiian Islands. While not in the official release, various construction sources say it's undergoing an amazing transformation and will be opened up to the outdoors.
Remember, this is the same restaurant that brought in 800 tons of rocks from the base of Mount Fuji in Japan to create the elaborate garden area when the hotel opened as Grand Hyatt in 1991. So it will be really interesting to see how it transforms.
"Our goal has always been to have our guests 'taste Hawaii,' " says Wong. "We want to embrace that same philosophy in Wailea. I'm also looking forward to developing relationships with the local Maui farmers, inspired by the great products they have to offer, as we unveil a new menu concept for us."
We hear Sting just performed last week at the Grand Wailea for a private Oracle software group party. . . This weekend, the Maui Jazz & Blues Festival will launch at Grand Wailea and other locations. Music writer Jon Woodhouse has done a bang-up job in his Maui Beat column about all of the musicians in the lineup.
As for food at the Saturday event from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Grand's Molokini Gardens, you may purchase beverages as well as grilled hamburgers, Big Kahuna hut dogs, veggie or chicken nachos, popcorn and ice cream. For only $20, you get to see top-name jazz artists.
Friday, the resort will offer jazz dinner specials at Bistro Molokini from 6 to 9 p.m.; and Sunday you may jazz it up at the Sunday Champagne Brunch in the Grand Dining Room from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Enjoy Peking duck salad, prime rib of beef, snow crab legs, hot malasadas and more as you listen to Henry Allen.
BITS AND PIECES . . . Are you among the growing number of people who want or need to eat anything BUT?gluten? Then head to the new Gluten-Free Bakery at the Maui Swap Meet at UH-Maui College in Kahului from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
Owned by Leslie Kayser, the food booth serves freshly baked gluten-free goods including cinnamon buns, OMG chocolate-chip cookies, sour-cream coffee cake, breads, muffins, scones and more.
"We are excited to serve the gluten-free community," says Kayser. "Come see us at the Maui Swap Meet, and look for us in new locations coming soon!"
Maui chefs have been cooking up a storm recently in the monthlong Agriculture Awareness campaign. The cooking demos will culminate from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday at Whole Foods Market in Kahului. Ryan Luckey, executive chef of Pineapple Grill at Kapalua Resort, will be featured and the dish is divine - I've savored it several times at his restaurant in the past.
Come watch him make his famous pistachio and wasabi- pea-crusted ahi steak with coconut-scented forbidden rice, garlic-Asian greens and exotic mushrooms in a velvety wasabi-soy butter.
Speaking of cooking demos, the next Smart Eating Class will be held at Joy's Place in Kihei at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Learn to made curries, stir-fries, veggie protein dinner salads and more. Call 385-7779.
Last but not least, Hawaii Island Land Trust invites you to its annual free barbecue picnic, with guided refuge walks and natural history tours at Waihe'e Refuge from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Call 244-5263 to RSVP.