Noble Chef

The annual college culinary benefit will ‘wow’ in Wailea

An overhead view of Fairmont Kea Lani’s sprawling courtyard showcases the reception area that will be utilized again for this year’s reception. For dinner, attendees move into the massive ballroom. MARK ANTOSCH photo

Last year, it was all about gangsters and flappers and the storied golden era of Hollywood. This year, the Noble Chef fundraiser for the University of Hawai’i Maui College Culinary Arts Program will take you back in time with a proud Hawaiian Renaissance theme.

As usual, the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea will set the stage as it’s done annually for many years. Noble Chef will kick off with a reception at 5:30 p.m. Saturday followed by a sit-down dinner at 7 p.m. with top Hawaii entertainment.

It’s always a “who’s who” of the Maui restaurant and hotel industry and it supports a noble cause.

“The Fairmont Kea Lani is pleased to host Maui’s premier food and wine event and fundraiser for the Maui Culinary Academy for the 21st year,” says Fairmont Executive Chef Tylun Pang.

“The lineup of chefs includes a great mix of longtime supporters of the program, chef graduates of the program and more talented new chefs. There is a great tasting menu to open the event and equally delicious food for the dinner portion.”

Students working at last year’s Noble Chef include Joyce Rosal (from left), Brandon Ramiscal, Hechelle Acob, Hanidee Caicada, Mikiala Holley, Danielle Soriano, Janis Schreiner and Edmon Valois. Photo courtesy UH-Maui College

And, please don’t forget elbow rubbing with all the celebrity chefs at the after-hours social in the resort’s popular Luana Lounge, featuring no-host cocktails.

The event is the culinary arts program’s major fundraiser of the year as it supports student scholarships, equipment purchases and much more.

“This year’s Hawaiian Renaissance theme will delight the senses with decor, fashion and traditional local entertainment. Utilizing Maui produce, ingredients and techniques paired with the island’s rich culture, all of the student chefs will work alongside their professional mentors to create an experience that will transport you back to days gone by of old Hawaii,” says Mark Malone, event planner for this year’s Noble Chef as well as dining room service lecturer at Leis Family Class Act student-operated restaurant on the Kahului campus.

“It’s a not-to-be-missed culinary journey to the Hawaii of yester-year,” he continues. “At the cocktail reception, 12 of Maui’s top chefs will present appetizers outdoors in a courtyard setting. Steel guitar player Joel Katz and the Kuikawa Trio, both from the college, will be performing.”

“Prior to the event, UH-MC Culinary Arts students work side-by-side with the chefs in their restaurants for hands-on training,” says Theresa Shurilla, the program coordinator. “Being involved in the process — from developing a menu item through the delivery of locally sourced, world-class cuisine — prepares students as they learn by doing for their transformation into the next generation of professional chefs.”

The 2016 Tylun Pang Aspiring Chef Scholarship winner Tatiana Kaniaupio (at left) accepts a $5,000 check from the Fairmont Kea Lani chef himself, a humble man who so generously takes on a student at his resort to learn the ropes in an eight-week-long kitchen adventure each year. Photo courtesy UH-Maui College

At the reception, each chef-student team will serve two dishes at their booths, all set about the perimeter of the walkabout affair under the stars.

Just done from hosting celebrity chefs at Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa for the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, that resort’s Executive Chef Lyndon Honda will make ulu pa’i’ai (pounded breadfruit) with pork jerky, dried ebi (shrimp) powder and luau-leaf sauce along with poi and goat stew.

Chef Robert Barrera of Cane & Canoe at Montage Kapalua Bay will venture from the Kapalua Restaurant Week to impress diners with crispy pork belly, Molokai sweet potato and coconut; as well as beet-cured kampachi served with pohole fern shoots.

Sugar Beach Events Chef Lee Anderson just hosted Les Dames Escoffier group on Tuesday at her Kihei facility and now she’ll create wasabi macarons with ahi ginger poke and ogo; and braise venison and serve with gnocchi ala Romona with a Maui mountain apple relish.

Executive Chef Isaac Bancaco of Andaz Maui will appear in Food Fight & Bloody Marys at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort on Oahu Nov. 5 as part of Hawaii Food & Wine Festival and will compete in Wild Food Challenge Nov. 11 at Lumeria Maui retreat in Makawao. On Saturday, he will make turmeric-cured Maui fresh catch with poi chicharron and pickled ogo; and imu taro and ulu gorditas, coconut gremolata and pickled Maui onions.

Other reception participants are Travis Morrin of Three’s Bar & Grill in Kihei; Geno Sarmiento of Nick’s Fish Market at the Fairmont in Wailea; Alvin Savella and Ken Sniffen of The Banyan Tree Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua; Roger Stettler of Taverna; Ryan Urig of Grand Wailea; Craig Dryhurst of Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea; Marc McDowell of the Hali’imaile General Store Upcountry; and Jojo Vasquez of Plantation House, named best chef on Maui by a local magazine.

All of their menu descriptions look more than tempting and I wish I had more room to list them all.

“After sampling, guests can cast their vote for their favorite appetizer, and the winning celebrity chef team will be recognized on stage!” says Malone.

Handcrafted cocktails by top mixologists using island products by local producers Hawaii Sea Spirits and Hali’imaile Distillery will flow at the reception; and MauiWine’s varietals of syrah and such will flow.

“The reception is followed by a sit-down, coursed dinner prepared and served by the UH-MC Culinary Arts Program faculty, Chef Tom Lelli and Chef Craig Omori, and students,” says Malone.

Omori will dazzle with the first course of Lomi & Poi, a taro croquette on Thai basil scallion oil with heirloom-tomato coulis; and Lelli will elevate pipikaula and laulau to new heights with steamed island fish, short ribs and watercress and shaved radish drizzled with black-garlic vinaigrette.

Wines include Sonoma Cutrer chardonnay, Complicated pinot noir, te Pa sauvignon blanc; and Hanaiali’i merlot. The wines are provided by Johnson Brothers Beverages and Paradise Beverages.

During dinner, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua cultural advisor Clifford Nae’ole and Kumu Hokulani Holt will both serve as event hosts and auctioneers.

You may bid on a sail to remember aboard Mo’okiha O Pi’ilani double-hulled voyaging canoe with gourmet picnic food by UH-MC students and Hawaiian music dockside; a two-night stay at Fairmont Kea Lani with dinner at Ko, spa services and breakfast for two; and a chef’s table for four people at the Class Act, among more items.

Also during dinner, watch the amazing Kumu Hula Luana Kawa’a and Halau Hula Kili’o’opu supported by the musical group, Na Wai ‘Eha.

John Cruz will also perform. A musician of the renowned Cruz Family, he’s also a Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner as well as a Grammy Award winner.

“John Cruz has distinguished himself as one of the most talented artists that has ever come to Hawaii. John’s fans enjoy him for his warm, heartfelt, passionate and soulful vocals,” says Malone.

Kalani Pe’a is an up-and-comer who has already won Na Hoku and Grammy awards early in his career. “I love singing, just being so free. It’s la’au lapa’au (medicine) for me,” says the rising star.

For the fifth year in a row, Chef Pang of the host hotel Fairmont Kea Lani will award the Tylun Pang Aspiring Chef Scholarship to a deserving student. Three recipients still work at the hotel.

Patrons can support the program all year by dining at Ko and ordering a highlighted dish from the menu (currently shrimp kare kare) and a portion of proceeds will go to fund future scholarships.

“The evening wraps up with a surprise dessert finale by Four Seasons Resort Maui Executive Pastry Chef Bruce Trouyet and a special pastry-art presentation by Shurilla and her pastry students,” Malone explains. “They have also made edible centerpieces for the tables of chocolate ukulele and baked event favors of pineapple cookies and mini bon bons.”

Proceeds from UH-MC Culinary Arts Program’s annual fundraiser directly support education, student career advancement and community service. Proceeds are also allocated toward student scholarships, field trips, internships, culinary contests and program enrichment; and professional development for UH-MC culinary faculty.

Housed in the 38,000-square-foot Pa’ina Building on the college campus, the UH-MC Culinary Arts Program keeps launching the next generation of Maui chefs. So attending is “noble,” indeed.

Noble Chef fast facts at a glance:

• What: The 21st annual Noble Chef benefit for the UH-MC Culinary Arts Program. Savor food by 12 top Maui chefs and their student teams at the reception, then dine on three courses.

• Where: In the courtyard and the ballroom of Fairmont Kea Lani resort in Wailea.

• When: Outdoor reception starts at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by a sit-down feast at 6:30 or 7 p.m. in the resort’s ballroom.

• How much: Cost is $195 per person. Sponsorship opportunities for tables of eight available from title to premiere to patron.

• For tickets: You may call Marilyn Fornwall at 984-3261 or email her at