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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 20, 2003

Graze on the green, gourmet-style

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Last year's Taste of Honolulu drew 46,000 people for open-air noshing. It's back, starting tonight.

Advertiser library photo

Taste of Honolulu

A food, wine and entertainment festival benefitting Easter Seals Hawai'i

5-10 p.m. today, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. tomorrow, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday

Civic center grounds (next to Honolulu Hale)

$3 general; free for seniors and children younger than 12; available at door (food and drink extra)


Also: Chef du Jour tastings, 6-9 p.m. tomorrow and 11 a.m.-2 p.m Sunday; $35 additional fee includes gourmet samplings, a glass of wine or champagne, in a restricted area, with celebrity chefs preparing food on site

Taste of Honolulu, opening a three-day run tonight on the Honolulu Hale grounds, will take its

dining up a notch with the introduction of a Chef du Jour segment. The new wrinkle is kind of like a blue-plate special — without the blue plate.

"It's our new baby for Taste of Honolulu," said Billie Gabriel, executive director of Easter Seals, which will receive proceeds from the foodfest.

Here's how Chef du Jour works: For $35, folks will be able to indulge in food and wine tastings. Chef du Jour will be offered tomorrow and Sunday, with gourmet items each day prepared by six top chefs who are not participating in the regular Taste. Wine or champagne will accompany the grazing samples.

"We're limited to 500 people per day for Chef du Jour, with servings over a three-hour period both days in an exclusive area, under one tent, at the area that's at the top of the hill (beyond the Sky Gate sculpture on the city hall lawn)," said Gabriel.

Simply put, this means a smaller crowd, no scrip for food purchases, no hassles of long lines for popular entrees and restaurants. Advance sales are recommended, and if space is available, tickets can be bought at the on-site Chef du Jour booth both days.

"We hand-picked the chefs," Gabriel said of the new foodie attraction. "Because the chefs would go nuts if they had to do the Chefs du Jour and a booth, we only asked people who aren't in the regular Taste."

The participating roster includes the likes of Alan Wong of Alan Wong's and Eugenio Martignango of Nick's Fishmarket tomorrow, and Elmer Guzman of Sam Choy's Diamond Head and Chai Chaowasaree of Chai's Island Bistro Sunday.

Gabriel said this year's Taste crowd is expected to exceed last year's, with about 50,000 crossing the turnstile, compared with 46,000 last year. This is based on higher advance sales than last year.

"This reinforces the notion that the public loves to eat, and loves Taste of Honolulu," said Gabriel.

The restaurants providing everything from appetizers to salads, from entrees to dessert, are Auntie Pasto's, Bali-by-the-Sea, Brew Moon, Canoes, Ciao Mein, Dave & Buster's, Down to Earth, Eastern Garden, Eddie's Burgers & Frozen Custards, Golden Dragon, Gordon Biersch, the Greek Corner, Kau Kau Café, Kit n' Kitchen, Marian's Island Wide Catering, Musashi, Pipeline Café, Prince Court, Pyramid, Sushi Supreme, The Willows, Tiki's Grill & Bar, Tony Roma's and Uncle Lani's Poi Mochi.

You know the drill — you buy scrip to purchase your selections, and ogle the menus with the amount of redeemable scrip in hand.

A wine tent, offering 200 wines, also should be a popular adult destination.

And music — always a lure between nibbles and sips — will include one Mainland band, Stayin' Alive, doing a Bee Gees tribute. A variety of local acts also slated (see list) include The Makaha Sons, 'Ale'a, Chant, Kapena and DisGuyz.

• • •

Chefs du Jour

Saturday participants and their menus (6-9 p.m.):

  • Alan Wong, Alan Wong's Restaurant — kimchee curry.
  • Glenn Chu, Indigo Eurasian Cuisine — Straus Ranch veal cheeks braised with Szechwan peppercorn, with jasmine rice and pickled young ginger.
  • Randal Ishizu, Ihilani Resort & Spa — grilled papaya and ginger-marinated flat-iron steak with wasabi fried rice and lemon soy drizzle.
  • Eugenio Martignago, Nick's Fishmarket — crab and goat cheese tart with sea scallops and truffles.
  • Mark Okumura, Alan Wong's Restaurant — chocolate-covered Kula strawberries.
  • Jean-Pierre Maharibatcha, John Dominis — seafood brochette with fruit salsa.
  • Hiroshi Fukui, L'Uraku — pan-seared marinated papio served with wilted Nalo tatsoi (a peppery green), pickled red ginger and caper-soy butter sauce.

Sunday's roster (11 a.m.-2 p.m.):

  • Steven Ariel, the Pineapple Room — braised beef shoulder "loco moco" with kalua pig taro hash cake, sombal ketchup and lu'au leaf hollandaise.
  • James Ebreo, Hualalai Resort — poached Hualalai-raised moi and Kona blue-water shrimp.
  • Elmer Guzman, Sam Choy's Diamond Head — kiawe-smoked salmon with bay scallop escabeche, dill pancakes and caviar créme fraiche.
  • Colin Nishida, Side Street Inn — plum-braised pork loin served on apple-potato loaf.
  • Romena Peixoto, Alan Wong's Restaurant — Kula strawberry shortcake coffee cake with Jack Daniels anglaise.
  • Chai Chaowasaree, Chai's Island Bistro — pineapple fried rice, topped with salt and peppered fresh Kahuku prawns.