Maui Film Festival at Wailea

Culinary parties at 18th annual event once again steal the show

Last year, Maui Film Festival at Wailea’s Taste of Summer boasted sunset views. • The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

Grand Wailea — A Waldorf Astoria Resort is always in the spotlight, this time as a repeat official launch venue for Maui Film Festival at Wailea.

Its oh-so grand beachside Molokini Lawn will set the stage for the star-studded Taste of Summer from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday with sunset views, cool music, gourmet bites and more. Other festival culinary events and films will run through June 25.

“Summer solstice has officially arrived, so dive into the season with the popular Grand Wailea-hosted 2017 Taste of Summer opening party,” says Barry Rivers, festival founder and director.

“Grand Wailea Executive Chef Ryan Urig will once again create many of the most mouthwatering tastes of the season, accompanied by the deeply powerful music of Ah-Tim Eleneki,” Rivers adds.

Savor light and refreshing bites such as watermelon and jicama salad with jalapeno-lime vinaigrette; roasted local beets with heirloom carrots and Surfing Goat cheese; Kona crab and lobster rolls; grilled oysters with tatsoi, bacon and coconut milk; and freshly shucked Pacific oysters with kaffir lime and dragon-fruit sorbet.

Last year, Maui Film Festival at Wailea’s Taste of Summer, movie stars such as Goldie Hawn (left) with son Wyatt Russell and his actress girlfriend, Meredith Hagner. • The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

“We really like to host Taste of Summer every year at Grand Wailea,” says Chef Urig. “It’s the big kick-off to the annual film festival, and we go all out with food and decor. This year we’ll be beachside again at Molokini Lawn with the sunset as our backdrop. You just can’t get better than that on Maui.”

Urig and his expert culinary team will also wow at the fun, walkabout event with hamachi, sesame and watermelon poke; and crispy McFish sandwiches on coconut brioche with Hawaiian-chili tartar sauce and coconut-pineapple slaw. Meat lovers may sink teeth into smoked brisket with barbecue sauce and crispy pork belly with pickled rhubarb at the carver station. Deviled eggs and potato salad will make it a summer feast, for sure.

Save room for honey-lavender mousse; Manjari chocolate pot de creme; Upcountry lemon-meringue pie shots and hazelnut-chocolate funnel cakes.

Tickets to Taste of Summer and other culinary parties of the festival also include cutting-edge movies and tributes at the Celestial Cinema with sightings of A-list stars assured. All parties are for those 21 and older.

On Wednesday, hop a shuttle from the Grand Wailea to the Celestial Cinema to see actress Connie Britton receive the Navigator Award, followed by the 8 p.m. “Beatriz at Dinner” comedy in which she stars opposite Selma Hayek and John Lithgow.

Next up is Taste of Chocolate on June 23 at Four Seasons Resort Maui. It’s a dark, moonless evening that Friday and chocolate is a sensual, sweet and known mood enhancer, so love will be in the air.

“How can you improve on perfection?” asks Rivers. “By raising the bar on an already amazing event and having the luxury of ‘the-sky’s-the-limit’ expression of your culinary creativity.”

Put another way, Pastry Chef Bruce Trouyet will partner with Guittard to impress with new masterpieces as festival attendees mingle on the Ocean Lawn and listen to mellow tunes filling the plumeria-scented air of the starry night.

“Taste of Chocolate is fun,” says Four Seasons Resort Maui Executive Chef Craig Dryhurst. “It’s everything to do with chocolate, like an extravaganza from savory to sweet. It’s a very see-and-be-seen party and people crave it every year.”

One highlight will be the nitrogen-baked, dark-chocolate meringue that is brightened with rasberries compote.

“I use 64-percent chocolate from the Caribbean and do a meringue dome and fill it with the compote and nitrogen. It’s a nice and crispy dome and steam comes out. Like meringue igloos,” says Trouyet. “We are also doing chocolate truffles and much more.”

Screen icon Pierce Brosnan will accept the festival Pathfinder Award at 8 p.m. before Taste of Chocolate at Celestial Cinema that evening, and you may watch “Kuleana” written and directed by Maui’s own Brian Kohne.

How does Rivers top that? Taste of Wailea will take center stage at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the David Leadbetter Private Golf Academy on Wailea Gold & Emerald Golf Courses. ManaBrasil will perform live music at the walkabout event.

“The TOW is both the granddaddy of all festival parties and the crown jewel of the festival’s culinary arts celebrations. In short, the best of the best of Wailea’s best chefs,” says Rivers.

Twelve top Wailea restaurant chefs will man the booths, including Matteo Mistura of Matteo’s Osteria, making gorgonzola al gnocchi and Siciliano cannoli; Tylun Pang of Fairmont Kea Lani will do crisp lobster-filled pumpkin blossoms with spicy-coconut curry and Kona-coffee and macadamia-nut toffee ice cream with Kahlua macarons.

“We go every year,” says Pang. “It’s a fun event, where chefs from all Wailea destinations come out and play. We all bring our best. We love the party and rubbing elbows with our counterparts and the attendees.”

Ruth’s Chris Steak House Chef Daniel Bader will delight with veal ravioli and white-chocolate bread pudding; Ferraro’s Chef de Cuisine Justin Purpura will do foie gras fondant and make burrata on acquerello rice crackers.

Other participants are Tommy Bahama; The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea; Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman; Pint & Cork; Bistro Molokini; Mulligans on the Blue; and Humble Market Kitchin by Roy Yamaguchi.

In addition to Wailea screenings, Maui Film Festival will offer showings at the Maui Arts & Culture Center’s Castle Theater in Kahului with food and beverages available in Yokouchi Pavilion before the shows. Lights, camera . . . action!


• Taste of Summer: Launch party is from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Grand Wailea. Your ticket includes a tribute to actress Connie Britton at the Celestial Cinema along with a double feature.

• Taste of Chocolate: The dessert lover’s dream come true will flow from 10 p.m. to midnight Friday, June 23 at Four Seasons Resort Maui. Includes tribute to Pierce Brosnan and double feature.

• Taste of Wailea: Takes center stage at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 24 at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy with 12 top Wailea chefs. Includes films, tributes that evening.

• The details: Culinary Taste parties are $150 now and $195 at the door for those 21 and older. Visit www.mauifilmfestival.com or call 579-9244.