Food And Wine, Sake And Rice Festivals

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - September 07, 2011
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Hoku’s chef Wayne Hirabayashi. Jo McGarry photo

There’s no shortage of food festivals this month. Three, at least, are scheduled for the next couple of weeks, including the much anticipated Hawaii Food & Wine Festival Sept. 29 (Hawaiifoodandwinefestival. com), spearheaded by chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong.

The Joy of Sake is Sept. 9 ( at Sheraton Waikiki. Founder Chris Pearce has devoted an incredible amount of time and energy to making this the most respected gathering of sake experts in the world. His celebration brings together more than 360 sakes and attracts the world’s best producers and with an annual contest to find Sake Gold Medal winners held as part of the “Joy.” Pearce has created a global event and brought world recognition. Fifteen chefs will be in attendance, bringing specially prepared dishes to pair with a variety of sakes. Restaurants include Hakkei, Morimoto Waikiki, RumFire and Kai Market.

Wayne Hirabayashi of Hoku’s at The Kahala Resort and Spa has a busy September. He’s heading up a festival at the hotel, is guesting at Joy of Sake and also will go into a rice battle Sept. 11 at the Rice Festival. “It’s all good,” says the workaholic Hirabayashi. “It’s great to be part of the local food and wine events.”

Last year’s inaugural Rice Festival, an event that attracted more than 2,000 people to Aloha Tower Marketplace for a day of rice-inspired festivities, was such a success that organizers have moved the event to Magic Island in anticipation of larger crowds.

“Last year we really had no idea how many people would turn up,” says festival spokeswoman Chimaine Pouteau. “This year we’re expecting 5,000, so we thought we should make more room.”

Naturally, local chefs are a big part of the day: Chef Mavro will make an appearance, and around noon guests can watch while Santa Miyoshi from Tokkuri Tei, Hirabayashi and Harold Beltran (BluWater Grill) compete to see who can make the best rice dish. Miyoshi who moved his popular contemporary Japanese restaurant to the former Sam Choy’s on Kapahulu Avenue earlier this year has long been known for his creativity and imagination. His take on Japanese food has made Tokkuri Tei one of the city’s top spots for sushi. Hirabayashi will take up the challenge with a inspired ahi poke musubi.

Highlights of the daylong rice fest include the creation of a giant musubi, which organizers hope will make the Guinness Book of World Records.

“There is no world record for a Spam musubi,” says Pouteau, “so we are hoping to create the first one.” The desired goal is to create a 200 pound musubi, but Pouteau admits that practice rounds have proven challenging. “We’ve created a 69 pound one so far,” she says, “but we’re sure we’ll be ready to go for the record on the day.”

And in the tradition of all food festivals, there’s a gorging sorry eating contest. Think you can eat more musubi in three minutes than anyone else? Head on down. Your prize a year’s supply of rice awaits.

Details at Happy eating!


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