Side Orders • April 12, 2018

Westin Nanea Ocean Villas Executive Chef Ikaika Manaku is all fired up about the first birthday party of the resort coming up on Monday with food, drink and live music. Westin Nanea photo

PARTY ON, GARTH . . . Celebrating its first birthday from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday in true island-style will be the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas.

“It will be an evening to remember,” says Leyla Church, complex director of public relations. “Join us for food, drinks and live entertainment.”

Enjoy a reception with dishes featuring farm-fresh Kula Produce ingredients, fresh seafood and cheeses from Maui Prime Fine Foods, Niihau lamb by Makaweli Ranch, and local Maui Brewing Co. beers and fun libations from Ocean Vodka. Cost of $35 includes food only. For reservations, call 662-6400 or visit www.westinnanea.com.

Sunny Savage was back up and running with her innovative “invasive species” food cart at Kahului Harbor.

“The theme of Savage Kitchen is to serve invasive species that are harvested here on Maui,” she says. “After years of foraging, I see our eco system changing with invasives encroaching and the use of chemicals to control them. We always have vegan options, but I also serve local venison and wild boar on occasion.”

Savage is finding innovative ways to shift the paradigm by making miso out of hale koa trees growing in unsprayed fields. She makes flavorful cooked greens from spiny amaranth and does wonders with java plum, strawberry guava and kahili ginger in fun and various ways.

The 26th annual East Maui Taro Festival will take root Saturday, April 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Hana Ballpark.

“We’ll have the usual poi pounding and different parts of the taro plant, such as huli for planting and corm for food preparation. You can bake, steam or make poi or just eat it like a baked potato,” says Judy Kinser, the longtime volunteer event coordinator. “John Cruz is going to play. So is Braddah Francis, an old-time favorite, and Ola Hou, Kuaola, CJ, Leokane and Boise. We do have founder Auntie Ku’ulei’s granddaughter Ku’ulei Haina performing. She’s a certified kumu hula. And we’ll have Poerava Ori Nui Tahitian dancing.”

As far as food goes at the taro fest, Uncle Francis Sinenci will husk fresh coconuts and there will be a taro pancake breakfast at Helene Hall April 22 cooked by Barefoot Bakery & Cafe’s Barry Villiarimo. The prices will vary because sometimes he also adds loco moco and taro hash browns and such to the menu.

When it rains, it pours, and that’s what happened at the 11th annual Maui County Agricultural Festival on Saturday. But that didn’t soak the spirits of Grand Taste 2018 chefs and hungry attendees.

The Best Overall dish was a tie between The Mill House Chef Jeff Scheer and Chef Charlie Owen of Hula Grill Ka’anapali. These chefs also tied for Best Protein along with Travis Morrin of Three’s Bar & Grill. Winning No. 1 for Best Vegetarian dish was Lyndon Honda of Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa trailed by Gevin Utrillo of Japengo. The Fan Favorite voted by attendees was a dish by Alvin Savella of The Banyan Tree, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Other chefs included Marc McDowell of Hali’imaile General Store, Robert Barrera of Cane & Canoe, Jayse Sato of Umi Maui and Charles Andres of Humble Market Kitchin.

* Got restaurant/dining-event scoop? Call Dining Editor Carla Tracy at 242-6342; or email carlatracy@mauinews.com.