The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2018

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Page 104 of 132

104  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2018 CONSUMER EVENTS I settled in my airplane seat tired, tan, and happy after a four-day trip to Maui for the Kapalua Wine & Food festival, held annually at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, in Maui, Hawaii. Glancing at the row across from me, I made eye contact with a familiar- looking woman who immediately greeted me. I had met this lovely festival attendee after our sister publication, The SOMM Journal, held a seminar titled "Digging into Unique Terroir," and now she was launching into an unsolicited testimonial quicker than I could fasten my seatbelt. "You know I've been coming to this festival for years, and the reason I came in the first place is because I asked several of my somm friends what they thought the best food and wine festival was in the country," she enthused. "They all said Kapalua." Michael Jordan, MS, is likely one of those very sommeliers who would agree with my new travel companion. In fact, he's been part of the festival for roughly 15 years of its 37-year tenure, making it the longest-running event of its kind in the country. "There's nothing like it, being here on the grass of The Ritz-Carlton under the palm trees, feeling that Hawaiian breeze, drinking this incredible wine, and eating this amazing food," Jordan told me. It's fair to question his bias, considering he grew up on Maui, but you could tell he meant it wholeheartedly nonetheless. This year's lineup of participating chefs included the likes of Hubert Keller, Nancy Silverton, Cat Cora, and many incredibly talented locals, including Humuhumunukunukuapua'a's Mike Lofaro, who cleverly uses an invasive plant species in his cuisine, or the soft-spoken Alvin Savella, who serves as the Head Chef at The Ritz-Carlton's restaurant, The Banyon Tree. Savella was recently recognized as Maui's 2018 Chef of the Year, a title earned thanks to dishes like his gourmand version of Hawaiian sweet bread served with a Kula Country Farms strawberry-foie gras, cracked black pepper jam, and Surfing Goat Dairy chévre whipped Vermont butter. Broke da Palate Rob Bigelow was among the Master Sommeliers in attendance at this year's Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. The Grand Tasting at the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival was held at the Montage Kapalua Bay resort in Maui, Hawaii. A RECAP OF THE 37TH ANNUAL KAPALUA WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL, THE LONGEST-RUNNING EVENT OF ITS KIND IN THE U.S. by Jessie Birschbach / photos by Tony Novak-Clifford

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