An All-Star Food And Wine Festival

This September, Waikiki will be filled with the culinary creations of local and international master chefs, the unique flavors of the Hawaiian Islands, and all the excitement and festivity of what will become a premier date on Hawaii’s events calendar.

The event is the first Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, to be held Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. It is being chaired by Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, both celebrated chefs, restaurateurs, James Beard Award-winners and familiar faces to local foodies.

With a theme of “Taste Our Love for the Land,” the festival will showcase the best of Hawaii: our chefs, outstanding food, and local produce and products.

Besides Yamaguchi and Wong, 30 internationally renowned master chefs will star in the production, including Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto of Morimoto Waikiki and colleagues from throughout the United States, Canada, Singapore, Japan and Australia. Many of the chefs are noted for their sustainable “farm to table” approach to cooking.

Chef Morimoto will kick off the festival Sept. 29 with “Streets of Asia: Morimoto & Friends,” at the Waikiki EDITION hotel. The next evening will feature the “Halekulani Master Chefs Gala Dinner Series,” and the final night will be “From Mauka to Makai: Hawaii’s Sustainable Future” at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort and Spa.

Funds will benefit the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation and Culinary Institute of the Pacific.

Sponsors include the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Food & Wine magazine, American Express, Kamehameha Schools, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association, and a growing list of businesses.

It’s gratifying to see the fruits of our labors, the seeds of which we planted back in the early 1990s when I was director of the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. At the time, we worked with other state agencies, local chefs, the Visitors Bureau, airlines, hotels and travel-related businesses to actively promote our cuisine – via a road show, participation in trade shows and other means in Asia, Europe, and North America – in what was then a novel idea.

We demonstrated that Hawaii was more than just sun and surf, that we could boast of top-notch chefs, restaurants, food, seafood and agricultural products and give visitors another reason to travel here.

This forthcoming festival, which joins several others in Hawaii, will further our reputation for exceptional cuisine, as well as show off the wealth of food products in the islands.

Locals and visitors alike have enjoyed our regional cuisine for many years, but promoting greater awareness through events like this one can only benefit our state by expanding our appeal, creating and preserving jobs in the restaurant and hotel industry, helping suppliers and related businesses, and supporting general economic growth.

Local cuisine has the added benefit of supporting producers of locally grown commodities, which means that we keep farms profitable and prevent these green open spaces from being developed, and which helps Hawaii retain the natural beauty that attracts visitors to begin with.

More information will soon be available at


Helene KahaunaeleAkiona
Position: Operations Assistant
Location: Outrigger at Lae Nani Resort and Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort
Island: Kaua’i

Helene Kahaunaele-Akiona is an operations assistant at two Outrigger properties: the Lae Nani Resort and Waipouli Beach Resort. It’s no wonder she’s known as a “can-do” employee, one whose willingness to tackle any task with enthusiasm and professionalism makes her an invaluable asset to the company.

Helene began work with Outrigger as a reservations agent, then learned about condominium operations to enable her to earn her current position. As an operations assistant, she organizes events and has suggested money-saving efficiency changes.

Says her supervisor, “Helene will go over and beyond to assist in any way she can … She has an incredibly positive outlook on life and contributes greatly to the success of our two resorts.”