NEWS IN WAILEA . . . Fairmont Kea Lani Maui resort in Wailea held a blessing for Ko, its plantation-inspired restaurant, on Friday and all I can say is, "Triple wow!"
"The last I checked, we already spent $5.6 million on Ko and counting," says Executive Chef Tylun Pang, who will impress guests with a gourmet slant on foods from the various ethnic cultures of plantation-era Maui when the restaurant opens to the public on April 1.
Local designer Roger Gagon pulled out all of the stops on this one with a floating cloud roof, rain simulators in the form of stainless steel beads, fire pits, a green Brazilian granite bar and colors of the aina or land. "We call him Roger the Genius," says Pang.
Jonelle Kamai, the learning and cultural coach for Fairmont Kea Lani Maui resort in Wailea, stands by the Rev. Kealahou Alika as he blesses Ko restaurant Friday after its $5.6 million renovation.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
"Ko takes our resort to a whole new game," Charles Head, general manager of the Fairmont on Maui, proudly told his staff who saw it for the first time. "It's all about the spirit of the plantation era, yet it's set in a cool, contemporary environment like nothing on Maui."
Residents take note, there will be kamaaina discounts!
Now we hear Alan Wong's Amasia will open hopefully in early May, depending upon construction timelines and furniture arrivals. It will be located in the former Kincha at Grand Wailea.
Sad to report that Matteo's Pizzeria on Wailea Ike Drive in Wailea will close at the end of April. So that means you have less than two months to indulge in authentic eggplant parmigiana, pasta Bolognese and Ligurian cheese pizza with mascarpone and shrimp.
"In May, I will go to Italy for vacation in my hometown, and then I'll come back and look for another place to open in Wailea," says Matteo Mistura, who is the beloved chef and namesake of the restaurant.
AROUND TOWN . . . Driving to East Maui Wednesday? You may indulge in a true Hana papa'aina at Travaasa Hana in the form of a special four-course dinner, which will highlight the fresh produce and the proteins from the farms, the sea and the ranches near the hotel.
During dinner, guests may chat up Travaasa's Executive Chef Barry Villiarimo and his culinary team as they pair each course with wines. The menu will be determined just before the event to ensure the freshest ingredients possible. Cost of just the meal is $55 per person or $95 with wine pairings (plus tax and tip). Call 270-5285.
The longtime chef-owner of Antonio's Italian restaurant in Kihei has his place up for sale. He's hoping to open a new restaurant by March 15.
"It will be called Kono's On the Green," says Chef Kono Akau. "We'll do breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving both Oriental and European cuisine. It has a nice cocktail lounge, bar and big-screen TV." The location is at the Elleair Golf Club, where the former Mulberry Street operated.
The Maui Arts & Cultural Center will set the stage for LobsterFest 2012, a casual affair 'Nawlins-style from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Tap your feet to Dixieland band music, bid at auction and savor a themed menu - all as a benefit for Maui Rotary Club's various efforts.
Catering From Soup to Nuts will provide spiced, steamed lobsters; dirty rice smothered with etouffee, buttered corn and favorites. French Quarter hurricane cocktails will be available for purchase.
BITS AND PIECES . . . Nominated for "Food & Wine" magazine's "People's Best New Chef" awards is none other than Sheldon Simeon of Star Noodle in Lahaina and Leoda's Kitchen & Pie Shop in Olowalu.
We hear Sheldon is the only nominee representing the state of Hawaii in the Northwest and Pacific Region. Do you want him to win? Voting ends Sunday. You may visit www.foodandwine.com/peoples-best-new-chef/northwest pacific.
In addition, yours truly will be a judge at the Sam Choy Keauhou Poke Contest on the Big Island March 18. You have until tomorrow to enter for $10,000 in prizes. Visit www.keauhouresort.com.
Hana Hou Cafe in Haiku will present its first dinner and show event at 7 p.m. Saturday with Rick Scheideman as Sam Clemens, the "real Mark Twain."
"If you love literature and love the charismatic, bold style of Mark Twain you will love this event," says owner Katie Thibault. We will delight you as well with Cajun and Creole specials such as shrimp and grits, fennel-saffron and mussel soup, fried-green tomatoes, chicken with bourbon cream sauce, jambalaya and more."