Last week, my friend Ross and I attended the “Come Pa’ani!” event held by Vancouver Magazine at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. The event showcased Hawaiian dishes created by two of Kāʻanapali’s top chefs and highlighted traveling to the beautiful island of Maui. Ross and I were greeted with kukui nut leis and a specialty cocktail created by Alessandro Rancan, bartender at Uva Wine and Cocktail Bar. The cocktail was called the “Joyride” and was made with Malfy Gin, Grand Marnier, coconut syrup, pineapple juice, lemon juice and cherry bitters. It was fruity and delicious. With island music softly playing in the background, lei around my neck and drink in hand, this definitely set the tone for the evening and brought me back to my trip to Maui.
Executive Sous Chef Chris Lederer of the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, and Executive Chef Ikaika Manaku of The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas spoke proudly about Hawaiian food and how “Kāʻanapali is where it’s at” if you’re looking for Hawaii. Chef Ikaika expressed how he was privileged to communicate and teach us about the Hawaiian culture through our palate. According to Chef Ikaika, “Hawaiian food is not just Hawaiian food. It’s a melting-pot of all different cultures.” This is apparent when we tried the dishes, which included:
- Pork and Ahi
- Sous Vide Chorizo Spiced Tako (octopus)
- Seared Beef Poke
- Kanaka Stye Poutine
- Tuna Poke
- Açaí Bowl
I can personally attest to the cultural fusion of food in Hawaii from my past trips to the Oahu and Maui. In addition to Polynesian influences, there is also Japanese, Chinese Korean and Filipino flavours that can be found in Hawaiian food. Ross and I really enjoyed the pork and ahi. The ahi tuna was perfectly seared with shichimi, which is a Japanese spice blend. The pork had a crispy skin and was full of umami flavour. Both proteins complimented each other in taste and texture. One of my favourite dishes of the night was the tuna poke bowl, which had large marinated tuna cubes on top of rice. It was garnished with tobiko and green onions and was deliciously simple and authentic. It reminded me of the poke I had while I was in Hawaii.
Pork & Ahi
My other favourite dish of the evening was the Açaí Bowl, which was served in a beautiful Dragonfruit bowl. An Açaí Bowl station was set up in the kitchen and attendees were able to watch the ingredients come together. It was made with:
- frozen Açaí berries
- Dragon fruit
- Chia seeds
- Coconut milk
- Lehua Honey
- Anahola Granola
- Fresh berries and bananas
When I asked about the white topping, Chef Chris said it was Huapia, which is a sweet coconut milk-based custard and is a traditional Hawaiian dessert. He incorporated chia seeds into it to make it healthy and to add texture. This may have been THE best Açaí bowl I had ever eaten! It was as good as it looked and tasted absolutely delicious! The flavours and textures of all the ingredients played so well together and each bite was an exciting experience for my taste buds.
One lucky attendee won a round-trip for two from Vancouver to Kahului, Maui for a four night stay. The winner will stay for two nights at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa with dinner at the Black Rock Kitchen, and two nights at The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas with dinner at Mauka Makai. What a great experience it would be to dine at the restaurants that Chef Chris and Chef Ikaika work at! Even though I have been to Maui and stayed in Kāʻanapali before, I would love to make another trip back there in the future. The island and its people are so warm and hospitable and the food is amazing. In addition to the island’s natural beauty, there are many things you would be able to enjoy that range from relaxing to adventurous.
Thanks to Vancouver Magazine for having my friend and I at this enjoyable event. If you’re thinking about or planning your next vacation, I highly recommend visiting Kāʻanapali in Maui!