A Beach Cookout Showcases Hawai‘i’s Veteran and Rising Chefs

Friday’s Hukilau launches the sixth annual Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival with poke, a roasted pig and shave ice.
The 11 local chefs who will be cooking local favorites at this Friday’s Hukilau Beach Cookout, a new event for the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival.
Photo: Courtesy of Mākaha Studios, the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival


When Wade and Michelle Karr-Ueoka were opening MW Restaurant in 2013, veteran chef Thomas Keller offered some advice that really stuck.


“He said, ‘Do not be part of a trend; a trend has a beginning and an end,’” Karr-Ueoka says. “Be part of a movement. A movement lasts forever, a movement makes a difference.”


That movement, in recent years, has been the annual Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival. In its sixth year, this two-week-long epicurean festival features more than 100 internationally renowned chefs and sommeliers with events such as wine tastings, cooking demonstrations and exclusive dinners that showcase Hawai‘i’s bounty of local produce, seafood and meats.


“For me, this festival highlights Hawai‘i,” says Karr-Ueoka, who’s participating in this year’s festival. “It brings awareness to others about the history and culture of Hawai‘i, and showcases our farmers, fishmongers, ranchers and local purveyors all raising money for culinary education and [local agriculture].”


To celebrate what the festival has done over the past five years—and to introduce the lineup of chefs, winemakers and mixologists coming to this year’s Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival in October—organizers have put together a new event this Friday with 11 local chefs serving dishes fireside along the beach at The Kāhala Hotel & Resort. The event, called the Hukilau Beach Cookout, will feature a vast selection of coveted wines around the world and fun menu of local favorites—with a chef’s twist, of course—such as Mark “Gooch” Noguchi’s popular squid lūʻau, George “Mavro” Mavrothalassitis’ bouillabaisse, a poke bar by Poke Stop’s Elmer Guzman, and a refreshing piña colada push pop by Karr-Ueoka.


Tickets are $175, with proceeds benefiting Kapi‘olani Community College’s culinary program.


“We’re going to have everyone there to bring their soul and connect to do a bigger, better thing for Hawai‘i, providing a better place to live, eat and be more sustainable,” says festival co-founder Roy Yamaguchi about Friday’s event.


This event coincides with the conclusion of a new offering by the festival that quickly sold out: The Connoisseur’s Culinary Journey of Hawai‘i, an exclusive, five-day experience limited to 15 couples and priced at $6,995 (per couple). Earlier this morning, as part of this tour, Mavrothalassitis and Lee Anne Wong took guests to the Honolulu Fish Auction and Tamashiro Market to show them where local seafood comes from and how it gets from dock to restaurants.


“The farm and fish auction tours are important to me,” says Mavrothalassitis, one of the 12 founders of Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine. “I want a lot of different people, including visiting chefs, to know about how well we take care of our fish from the boat to the plate.”


The bringing together of veteran and rising chefs from around the world, who all work together and use local ingredients in their dishes, is what makes the festival so much fun for Karr-Ueoka. (And for us, too.)


“When you put together veteran and younger chefs, you witness a sharing of ideas as well as collaboration,” she says. “I always enjoy working with and seeing chefs and colleagues who have mentored me in the past because I am grateful for what they have instilled in me and I feel that it’s my duty to carry on what they have taught me … As part of the younger generation, I feel that it’s our duty to help carry on what they started and help the legacy live on.”


Hukilau Beach Cookout, 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 27, The Kāhala Hotel & Resort, $175 per person, hfwf.me