Maui Food and Dining

Kapalua Wine & Food Festival: Perfectly Paired

June 25, 2016, 9:45 AM HST
* Updated June 24, 9:58 PM
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At 35 years old, Kapalua Wine & Food Festival is aging like, well, fine wine.

“It’s the oldest-running food and wine festival in the country; one year older than Aspen Food & Wine, and that’s so famous,” says festival host and master sommelier Michael Jordan, who’s been involved in the event for the last 15 years.

Spanning Thursday, June 9 to Sunday, June 12, the festival featured a range of seminars, tastings, cooking demos, winemaker dinners and dining events like The Grand Tasting and Seafood Festival.

“Sherry-smoked kampachi with hand-pulled mozzarella and fire-roasted shishito peppers,” says The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Executive Chef Daniel Schmidt, as he explains one of their tastings at the Seafood Festival, which showcased around 20 top restaurants from around Maui on June 12.

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Those restaurants were competing for top honors to become Best of the Seafood Festival. Judges chose Chef Greg Harrison of Morimoto Maui as “Best of the Fest” for his Toro Tartare, while Chef Jin Hosono of Japengo snagged 2nd place with his seared Kampachi. The Fan Favorite award went to Chef Cameron Lewark of Spago for his Ahi Tuna Cones, and Lobster and Corn Agnolotti.

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The bottles kept pouring at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

The bottles kept pouring at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Executive Chef Daniel Schmidt at his tasting display. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Executive Chef Daniel Schmidt at his tasting display. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Tastings from Morimoto Maui, which took home the "Best of the Fest" award at the Seafood Festival in Kapalua. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Tastings from Morimoto Maui, which took home the “Best of the Fest” award at the Seafood Festival in Kapalua. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Wine makers pour glasses at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Wine makers pour glasses at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Sake available at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Sake available at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Kapalua Wine & Food Festival host Michael Jordan poses with a sake maker at the Seafood Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Kapalua Wine & Food Festival host Michael Jordan poses with a sake maker at the Seafood Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Gannon's Chef Bret Pafford speaks to guests at the Seafood Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Gannon’s Chef Bret Pafford speaks to guests at the Seafood Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Dry ice adds to the allure of the dessert station at the Seafood Festival in Kapalua. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Dry ice adds to the allure of the dessert station at the Seafood Festival in Kapalua. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Chefs prepare desserts at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Chefs prepare desserts at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Chefs at Oceanside Restaurant prepare tastings at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Chefs at Oceanside Restaurant prepare tastings at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Live music and dancing at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival's seafood tasting event. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

Live music and dancing at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival’s seafood tasting event. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

A range of wines at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

A range of wines at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

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As far as the wines, Jordan described the flavors like “the colors of the rainbow,” with labels represented from Italy, France, Germany, California, New Zealand, Australia and more.

Year 35 included a whole lot of learning for the industry and the public in an engaging, experiential setting, with seminar/tasting topics like “Champagne and Scooby Snacks,” “Great Wines from Amazing Women” and “Red Red Rhône.”

“I like to refer to it as edutainment because we’re not trying to teach people how to eat and drink,” explains Jordan. “We’re trying to give them lots of information, and then introduce them to delicious things that they may have never tasted that they find they just love!”

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The 36th Kapalua Wine & Food Festival is set for June 8 to 11, 2017.

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