Helping Great Chefs Fight Hunger

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - March 09, 2011
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Chuck Furuya and D.K. Kodama

When the economy took its infamous plunge a few years back, high-end food and wine festivals were among the first noticeable cutbacks. In Hawaii, home to large culinary events on a nearly year-round basis, some of the biggest and best events all but disappeared.

I’m no economist, but signs of an economic turnaround may be coming to the Islands as food festivals and events are on their way back. In the next few months, several top festivals return, and in September, the inaugural Hawaii Food and Wine Festival will debut. (More on that next week.)

The first - just two weeks away - is the star-studded Great Chefs Fight Hunger.

The evening brings together a collection of local luminaries from the culinary world and is supported with true generosity by distributors of beers, wines and spirits.

After a famously soggy - but spirited - event at Restaurant Row a few years back, where gale-force winds and torrential rains forced guests through muddy terrain and (cheerfully) into Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the evening is now held at Hawaii Foodbank headquarters on Kilihau Street within the warm safety of the warehouse walls.

“People still talk about the event that got famously rained out,” says Hawaii Foodbank president Dick Grimm, who believes that moving the event to the warehouse brings a poignancy to the evening.

“We distribute 49,000 pounds of food a day from here,” says Grimm, “By having people come to the warehouse, see the shelves and the food, they get an idea of how massive an operation this is. Feeding the hungry is not about a box of Cheerios here and a Spam musubi there. There are enormous amounts of food going out from here every day.”

But there’s nothing better designed to make you feel good eating and drinking for a great cause than an event where even the chefs have a good time.

“The chefs do seem to get really excited about the event,” says Grimm. Spearheading the effort, D.K. Kodama and Chuck Furuya recruit and recommend new attendees, and this year Henry Loui’s, town, PF Chang’s and Y. Hata join an impressive list that includes 12th Avenue Grill, 3660 On the Rise, Beach House, Morimoto, Formaggio, Chai’s, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Pineapple Room, Poke Stop, Roy’s and Sansei.

“D.K. says that Y. Hata has some incredible sausage and cheese,” says Grimm, a Wisconsin native, “so we’ll be adding that station this year too.”

Pre-event tickets (priced at $150) are already sold out, and the remaining $110 tickets will be all gone soon. My advice is don’t wait after you’re done reading this. Simply calculate the cost of a multi-course fine-dining meal, throw in some fabulous wines, add some terrific company and top it off with music by Henry Kapono, and it’s not hard to see why Great Chefs Fight Hunger is one of the top culinary tickets in town.

“It has always been amazing to me the amount of compassion the people of Hawaii have for helping others,” says Grimm. “This is one night where we can all have a good time raising money for those who really need the help.”

Happy eating!

To hear a conversation with Grimm and to find more information about the event and participating chefs, musicians and suppliers, go to Order forms are available at

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