Four Reasons to go to the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival
This annual food and wine fest brings top chefs and vintners from all over the globe to Maui’s tropical paradise.
By Sean M. Hower
For the past 34 years, the world’s top food and wine experts have been gathering on the picturesque island of Maui to celebrate the best Hawaii has to offer at the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival.
Held June 9-12 at the world-renowned Kapalua Resort, and other resorts and attractions in Kapalua, this culinary festival—the longest running food and wine fest in the United States—is a four-day event jam-packed with seminars on wine, culinary tastings showcasing Hawaii’s bounty, and glamorous evening gala events.
Here are four reasons to hop on a flight for this unforgettable experience.
This year, in addition to more than 20 local chefs, Kapalua will host two celebrity chefs. One is Hugh Acheson, the author of a James Beard Foundation award-winning cookbook and former Top Chef competitor and judge. The other is Michele Mazza, a Naples native and executive chef of Il Mulino and Trattoria Il Mulino in New York.
Master sommeliers Michael Jordan of Jackson Family Fine Wines, and Rob Bigelow, who serves on the board of directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers, will join the celebrity chefs on the cooking stages for dish and wine pairings.
Jordan, who joined the festival last year as a master sommelier, also chairs the Los Angeles International Wine Competition (the oldest in America). He is only one of 15 people in the world to hold a master sommelier diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers and a certified wine educator diploma.
Bigelow was awarded the title of master sommelier in 2002—the seventh American to pass all three parts of the exam on his first attempt.
Perhaps what makes Kapalua so special are the food and wine seminars. From cooking demos with the professionals, to a panel honoring women winemakers, to a champagne and Scoobie Snack wine seminar and tasting with chef Mark Tarbell, Kapalua is the intersection of education and enjoyment.
Friday morning boasts a festival golf tournament on Kapalua’s Bay Course. The Grand Tasting closes out the evening.
On Saturday, Mazza will lead a cooking demo crafting Italian dishes from his hometown of Naples. Jordanwill select Italian wines to pair with his dishes.
Acheson will be on the cooking stage Sunday to showcase his spin on classic southern dishes. Bigelow will pair Acheson’s creations with Spanish wines.
Kapalua Wine and Food Festival is held at Montage Kapalua Bay, a luxury resort overlooking Kapalua Bay and its world-class golf courses. Sprinkled across the property are Montage’s Kapalua Villas with kitchens and private lanais. Montage's 30,000-square-foot spa includes a juice bar, and an expansive menu of signature and custom spa treatments.
Stay at Montage, or book a room nextdoor at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Just minutes from Kapalua Bay Beach, the Ritz has six restaurants and bars, and a premiere spa. It offers a number of activities, including guided hikes through the rainforest or snorkeling along a coral reef.
Kapalua donates a portion of festival proceeds to charities, including to the University of Hawaii’s Maui College Culinary Academy, which trains students for positions in five-star resorts and restaurants.