Wowing Bon Appetit Magazine

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - June 25, 2008
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Cindy Hutson and Wayne Hirabayashi
Cindy Hutson and Wayne Hirabayashi

Food writer, critic, author (and former sports writer) Alan Richman was in town last week for an update on Hawaii Regional Cuisine, on assignment for Bon Appetit. At Vino, where he was spotted with Alan Wong, he was heard to remark incredulously, “How do you get these wines? I can’t get these wines when I’m in New York?” New York, apparently doesn’t have master sommelier Chuck Furuya.

Richman also changed his opinion of tofu in just one bite during a trip to Honda Tofu in Wailua. “Mr. Richman said that it was the best tofu he’d ever had in his life,” says Dan Nakasone, a guardian of sorts, of the history-steeped mom-andpop businesses in Waialua. Honda Tofu has been around since 1917 and is run today by the founder’s grandson, Dennis Honda, and his wife Dulcie. Don’t hold your breath on reading the article, though. Itshould break in April of 2009…That’s what I call a comfortable deadline… I’ve said many times that the food and beverage industry is the backbone of fundraising efforts in our community. There’s never a day goes by at the large liquor distributors, including Southern Wines and Spirits, Better Brands, Paradise Beverages and Anheuser-Busch, without someone asking for a donation. “We’re tightening our belts like everyone else,” a prominent liquor exec told me, “But we’ll always find ways to support the community.”

George Szigeti of Better Brands, and Tom Mullen of American Express just teamed up for their annual fundraiser to promote culinary education in Hawaii. The Hale Aina Golf Tournament raised a record $45,000…see, what I mean? No more generous souls than in this industry…

The recent salmonella outbreak on the Mainland, spread via tomatoes, led to panic buying by some of our larger hotels, many of who eschew local produce for cheaper (tasteless) Mainland varieties. “We don’t have a salmonella problem in Hawaii,” says Hamakua Farms owner Richard Ha. ” We have a food safety certification. Our tomatoes are fine!”

Dean Okimoto, president of Hawaii Farm Bureau and owner of Nalo Farms, says his phone has been ringing off the hook with orders for local produce. Permanent ones? “Doubt it”, says Dean “The big guys are still going to go for the cheaper produce wherever they can find it.”

Read our lips, restaurant purveyors, WE WANT LOCAL FOOD. Buying from local farmers in times of emergency is using, not supporting.

Speaking of local food, the food festival I enjoy most, in terms of its diversity and sheer energy, is the Taste of the Hawaiian Range held this year at Hilton Waikoloa Village on Oct. 3. Mountain oysters always take center stage, although I’m not sure that they’re among the first of the dishes that disappear. The event costs just $25, and for that you can taste everything from the aforementioned bulls testicles to tails, tongues and tri tip…

Florida phenom Cindy Hutson was in town last weekend to guest chef at the Kahala Food and Wine Fest. She joined Wayne Hirabayashi on Saturday night for a feast at Hoku’s that included wine pairings by one of the world’s most popular winemakers, Jim Clendenen.

Despite the fact that Cindy has long had the wines of Au Bon Climat on her menu at Ortanique On The Mile. The two had never met.

“We got along great,” Cindy said, after a late night, post-event sipping session at the bar. “I think it’s because we both have a reputation!” she added.

The next Kahala Food And Wine Series Event will happen in September…

Happy eating!


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