Side Orders • June 15, 2017

Kapalua Wine & Food Festival host and master sommelier Michael Jordan (left) and celebrity chef Andrew Sutton of Napa Rose at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., flank attendee Shelley Kekuna. • The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

TO A VERY GOOD YEAR . . . The 36th annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival keeps getting better with age. But my scale at home tells me that I am not.

Yes, I dared to weigh in after all of that wining and dining and now I’m whining about the results. So I’ll stop it and weigh in on event gossip.

I bumped into Lyndon Honda at the trade tasting at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua during the fest, and he was grinning from ear to ear. That’s because the owner of Laulima Events & Catering was recently hired as the executive chef of Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali Resort. His executive sous chef is Chris Lederer and his sous chef is Mitchell Cooper and they were enjoying the tasting, too.

“Chefs Honda, Lederer and Cooper are extremely talented and share a passion for food and innovative styles,” says Sheraton GM Tetsuji Yamazaki. “With this new culinary direction, we hope to create fresh, fun and memorable experiences for guests at our hotel and kamaaina visiting our dining establishments.”

Blond and beautiful Shelley Kekuna was spotted as well.

“Kapalua got me all excited about the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival coming up at my resort Oct. 20 to 22,” says Kekuna, the executive director of Ka’anapali Beach Resort Association. “The planners of the Kapalua fest have clearly set a high standard for quality food and wine as well as generous hospitality.”

Owner Chris Kaiwi of Taverna above the Ritz on Office Road in Kapalua worked the Grand Tasting event. He says that he and Chef Roger Stettler will roll out new menu items for summer at the end of the month. Do try the big and juicy short rib served with vanilla-infused parsnip puree when it debuts. It’s worth the two-week wait.

Speaking of the event’s Grand Tasting at Montage Kapalua Bay, some of us lucky ones got to have a sneak peek and taste of the new Champagne Hale, which will offer select vintages and specialty bites at the legendary Cliff House from June 29 through Sept. 3. It’s a room with a view and then some. Hurry and make a res.

KWFF attendee Cary Button, who owns the umbrella company Oyster Seafood as well as the retail store Maui Prime Fine Foods in Lahaina, also sells caviar for home consumption.

“Before Father’s Day, you can stop by to pick up fine caviar, 100 percent Australian wagyu tomahawk ribeyes, hand-cut Snake River Farmers American-style Kobe steaks, live lobsters and our famous Maui Steamer Pots full of seafood,” says Button, a trained chef and foodie.

Brandon Maeda, the complex director of Food & Beverage for Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas and Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, was spotted, too. Not only will his Pulehu, an Italian Grill restaurant offer 50 percent off in June for kamaaina, but on Father’s Day this Sunday, Westin KOR’s Pailolo Bar & Grill will fire up the “Mac Daddy” wagyu beef burger and a beer for $20. The beachside restaurant also has nine flat-screen TVs. And the new Mauka Makai at Westin Nanea will be beefing up Father’s Day with hand-cut natural prime rib strip loins and ribeyes, weighed and sold by the ounce.

Hmm. . . maybe I should weigh my food to be inspired to lose a pound or two. Or maybe NOT! After all, as I like to say, I have a great body underneath all of these restaurant (and festival) meals.