Food Trippers

Celebrity chefs from the East and West Coasts make their debut at this year’s Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival.

The Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival, the brainchild of Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, has certainly come into its own. Now going into its fourth year, the annual gastronomic to-do has drawn in some of the world’s most sought-after chefs, top vintners and culinary personalities to the islands for a chance to create culinary magic with Hawai‘i’s bounty.

The once three-day, O‘ahu-only event has fast flourished into what it is now—a seven-day, island-hopping extravaganza chock-full of sumptuous dinners, degustation and chef throw downs, to name a few. It seems to get bigger and better every year, and the 2014 roster of participants is no exception. And as much as we love our old faithfuls who visit us each year— we mean the likes of Ming Tsai, Marcel Vigneron and Hubert Keller—there are a few new kids on the block (at least new to the festival) that we wanted to highlight.

So if you’re headed to one, some or all the events on the docket this August 29 to September 7, chances are you’ll run into one of these five. We caught up with them before they hit Hawai‘i shores to find out which local ingredient(s) they’re hoping to sink their teeth—and creativity—into.

HILuxury asked: The idea behind the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival is to showcase the bounty to be found in Hawai‘i. What is one Hawai‘i ingredient that you’re looking forward to working with?


Photo by Michael Pisarri

Photo by Michael Pisarri

“Fish and shellfish, I went to Hawai‘i on my honeymoon, and I still have a memory of the most delicious ‘opakapaka that I ever tasted, as well as the shrimp truck my husband took me to. I couldn’t get over the true taste of the Pacific Ocean that the fish and shellfish had, and I yearn for those flavors again and again.”

—Michelle Bernstein, chef, Michy’s, Miami, Florida


Photo by Ed Anderson

“I love the abalone being produced on the Big Island. We have not been able to sell local abalone for so many years and now it is being raised sustainably in Hawai‘i. Great news for every seafood lover!”

—Tom Douglas, chef, restaurateur, Tom Douglas Restaurants, Seattle, Washington


Photo by Jason Varney

“For the Halekulani Master Chefs Gala Series, I’m preparing a dish called “Beef on Embers” that we serve at my newest restaurant in Philadelphia, Volvér. I’m really looking forward to working with the Hawaiian grass-fed beef, which has always been known for its rich flavor. Everyone knows that happy cows produce the best beef, and how could any cow be happier than one that lives in Hawai‘i?”

—Jose Garces, chef, restaurateur, Garces Group, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Photo courtesy of Cat Cora

“While there are so many delicious ingredients in Hawai‘i to work with like taro, sugarcane, Hawaiian salts, coconut, pineapple, breadfruit, jicama and others … I love your fish—all the various tunas, snappers, marlin, wahoo and mahimahi, among others.”

—Cat Cora, CEO Cat Cora Inc., president/founder, Chefs for Humanity, Los Angeles, California


Photo by David L. Reamer

“I’m looking forward to the fresh fish. You can grow tomatoes in lots of different places … the fresh fish of Hawai‘i is just really special. [Being based in the Pacific Northwest] I know the fish really well. It’s really exciting, because when I travel to Hawai‘i, I try to eat as much seafood as possible.”

—Jenn Louis, co-owner and chef, Lincoln Restaurant, Sunshine Tavern and Culinary Artistry, Portland, Oregon

To find out even more about these five, log on to for our extended Q&A session. For inquiries about the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival, visit

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