Hawaiian Regional Cuisine is a label bestowed upon the work of a dozen chefs in the 1980s who aimed to tell the story of Hawaii’s diverse culture through flavorful fare. Today, the style continues to create feasts for the eyes and the palate, but now there’s a new generation of chefs taking Hawaiian cuisine to another level. They utilize the abundance of fresh seafood coming into the harbors on a daily basis, and pair it with locally sourced fruits and veggies from the islands’ farms. Toss in a bit of European and American influence, and there’s a dizzying array of tastes to choose from.
While there’s a multitude of choices, there’s also a way that travelers can experience a plethora of Hawaiian flavors all in one building. The Priceless Prix Fixe at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar offers five inventive courses prepared by chef Dave Kodama, who’s won accolades from many publications with original dishes like lobster and blue crab ravioli.
Also offering a full lineup of flavors (and chefs) is the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, which takes place at the end of the summer. Whether you’re on the Big Island, Maui or Oahu, you can sample the wares of acclaimed chefs like Hubert Keller, Cat Cora, and Ming Tsai, who are all on hand for cooking demonstrations and evening “dine arounds.” There’s also live music and fireworks, in case the thrills on your plate aren’t enough.
If you’re sticking to Maui, there are several spectacular events each summer that feature Hawaiian cuisine at its finest. The Kapalua Wine & Food Festival brings 15 master sommeliers—and more than 3,000 fellow gourmands—to the Ritz Carlton at Kapalua for tasting seminars, pairing demos, and more on each of four nights. At the festival you can grab tips from Frank Ostini as he teaches you to use all five of your senses to distinguish the type of wood he uses for grilling at the Hitching Post, the Santa Barbara restaurant featured in the film Sideways. You can also hear how Maui chef Bev Gannon dissects a local Maui Gold pineapple for inclusion in her world-famous comfort foods. The event even incorporates a golf tournament and a tennis clinic, which provide an enchanting way to work off all your indulgences.