Hawaiʻi Food & Wine Festival Kicks Off With Hot Lava, Hotter Cuisine
Seven of Hawaiʻi’s hottest chefs joined forces on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Hilton Waikoloa Village to showcase the diversity and versatility of Hawaiʻi’s culinary bounty.
Hot Lava, Hotter Cuisine opened up the Hawaiʻi Food & Wine Festival on the Big Island with dishes inspired by Pele, the mythical goddess of fire.
Fresh local ingredients were paired with exceptional wines by Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits Hawaiʻi.
Hundreds of hungry gastrophiles filled the ballroom of the Hilton Waikoloa Village for an opportunity to tantalize their tastebuds with a six-course meal prepared by some of the most revered culinarians.
The six chefs who shared the spotlight were Chef Ta-Hwan Ryu from Ryunique, Seoul Korea; Chef Bruce Bromberg, Blue Ribbon Restaurants, New York City; Chef Michelle Bernstein, Seagrape, Miami Florida; Chef Nancy Silverton, Mozza, Los Angeles; Chef Hubert Keller, FLEUR by Hubert Keller, Las Vegas; and Chef Jayson Kanekoa, Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.
The menu exploded with tasty ingredients—from Big Island Abalone to Kiawe Smoked Kampachi and Slow Cooked Lobster with taro gnocchi to Big Island Berkshire Pork “Segreto” with lemon, caper and anchovy.
The last two courses were a Duo of Braised Wagyu Beef and Big Island Tenderloin followed by a dessert of Waimea Strawberries and Cream with white chocolate ulu mousse.
One of the stand-out chefs of the evening was Bromberg, who has been instrumental in the culinary world for 20 years, along with his brother Eric. Well known as founders of Blue Ribbon Restaurants, Bromberg is now a Big Island resident.
“I kind of float between the restaurants—I go back to New York and Vegas and LA pretty frequently,” said Bromberg. “We’re just a couple of months out on opening in Miami as well, so that will be one more stop around the country.
Bromberg participated in a culinary event at Mauna Lani several years ago and I fell in love with Hawai‘i Island. Soon after, he moved his family here. He began his culinary journey as a child traveling to small towns in Provence, France, with his father.
“For me, any travel is generally based around food discovery,” said Bromberg. “Even from a young age, traveling around Europe with my dad, who was kind of an obsessed francophile, it was always about the next meal. My wife is from South Africa and we had a pretty amazing trip this summer, where we traveled and ate and discovered all sorts of great new culinary things. The best way to learn about a culture is to learn how they eat and how they prepare food—it’s always at the forefront.”
Being a world traveler and chef gives Bromberg the opportunity to try new foods, some tasty and others, well, unusual would best describe some of his more adventurous meals.
“When I was in Zimbabwe years back, I was in the township called Chinotimba, which is just outside of Victoria Falls,” said Bromberg. “I learned how to collect, cook and dry what they call mopane worms, which are rather large caterpillars. That is a snack they eat once it’s dry and crispy. They sauté it with a little bit of onion and then have it with beer that’s made basically with yeast, flour and water. It ferments and then you drink that yeasty water with these caterpillars. That’s an interesting culinary experience. I wouldn’t exactly say it was good, but after a couple of weeks in Zimbabwe, I’d say it was good enough.”
Fortunately for guests, Chef Bromberg left the mopane worms in Zimbabwe and brought his A-game to the table with his Kiawe Smoked Kampuchea with roasted Maui Onion and Calamari Cream, Spicy Keiki Cucumber, Waimea Radish Salad and Guava Sea Salt. The course was beautifully paired with a 2014 Weingut Gunerloch Estate Dry Riesling.
It’s safe to say no one went home hungry or disappointed. In fact, there was plentiful chatter about marking calendars for next year’s Hawaiʻi Food & Wine Festival!