BUZZ ON MAUI . . . Celebrity sightings include Thomas Keller of the legendary French Laundry, spotted dining at Mala Ocean Tavern in Lahaina and at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
When I went to Napa Valley recently, my friends and I discovered the wait list for Keller's French Laundry was over a mile long and it only served prix-fixe dinners for $275 per person.
Oh well, "next time." Luckily, I have dined there before and it was crazy good.
Formerly with The Ritz, Leo Mallari is now Director of Food & Beverage for Makena Beach & Golf Resort. He’s got lots in store for diners in the coming weeks. Check out the Sunday brunch with a special summer pricing of $40, adults.
We hear the superstar chef stayed at the Wailea residence of Joe and Beverly Gannon while in town and that executive chef Marc McDowell honed his skills at both the French Laundry and Bouchon in May.
Formerly with The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, McDowell now commands the kitchens of the Makena Beach & Golf Resort and he's got a compadre on board. Leo Mallari jumped ship from the Ritz to take the role of director of Food & Beverage and he's got lots in store.
"I want to put the Makena name back on the map," says Mallari. "I'll be doing some fun things like wine dinners, and we are offering special summer pricing on our popular Sunday brunch. We also feature an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet Fridays, and a new Asian Affairs buffet with cuisine from around the world on Saturdays. Both are in Molokini Bar & Grill.
Getting back to celebrity sightings, actress Tasha Smith was spotted at Feast at Lele in Lahaina enjoying fire-knife dancing and mai tais . . . and Sammy Hagar and his family had all-natural Hawaiian beef burgers at Pacific'o at 505 Front Street.
BITS AND PIECES . . . . A staple on Maui since 1934, Tokyo Tei showcases a picture a young senator named John F. Kennedy, who dined there in the years before he become our president.
Every Wednesday this summer, this Maui institution will reduce prices on its popular teishoku offerings. The word translates to "set lunch" or "set meal" and it's served in a shiny black lacquer compartment box.
"At Tokyo Tei, we offer options of Teishoku A, B, C and D," says longtime Manager Eunice Kitagawa. "Teishoku B is the most popular. It's packed with beef teriyaki, shrimp and vegetable tempura, sashimi, koko (salted cabbage) and includes miso soup, hot tea and rice. Wednesday prices will be $11.50, a savings of $4."
Selling fresh poi daily is Aloha Mixed Plate oceanfront on Front Street in Lahaina.
The fresh Maui-grown taro is being cultivated by Bobby Pahia, farmer for Hoaloha Farms in Waikapu and Wailuku. "It's the same poi our parent company uses for Old Lahaina Lu'au and on the Hawaiian plates at Aloha Mixed Plate next door," says Director of Marketing Kaala Buenconsejo of Hoaloha Na Eha, Ltd.
"Two-pound bags are being sold for $10 to the general public and $6 to kupuna who are 65 and older. It's the best price in the state."
"We also operate Star Noodle and Leoda's Kitchen & Pie Shop and we're keeping true to our vision of becoming a sustainable corporation and sharing with the community," Buenconsejo continues. "You can also stop by Leoda's for the same great poi deal."
Lovers of Hawaiian coffee should mark their calendars for Friday and Saturday July 20 and 21, when the 4th annual Statewide Cupping Competition will be brewing from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu.
"We will have an exhibit that features the history of coffee in Hawaii," says expert David Gridley of Maui Oma Coffee Roasters. "The exhibit and sampling will be free and open to the public. There will also be a FREE Coffee Berry Borer Workshop, that is a must for all coffee farmers, on Friday, July 20 from 9 a.m. to noon."
You may buy tickets to a la carte tours of coffee farms and a festive dinner where the top 10 winners for Best Coffee in Hawaii will be announced. Emcee will be TV personality. Howard Dicus.
Makawao Hongwanji Mission will host a bazaar and garage sale from 7 a.m. to noon on Sunday and food items will include chow fun, sushi, bentos, pickled peaches and vegetables.
In Lahaina, burger lovers will want to check out the grand reopening of McDonald's from 7 a.m. to noon. on Saturday. Take pictures with Ronald McDonald, enjoy games, vie for prizes and watch entertainment.
Designers did a fab job of making the building look as if it's from the plantation era.