The annual Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival returns in 2021 with a more in-depth look at where the island’s food comes from — and to support its sources.
Held throughout October, the festival will kick off on the Island of Hawai‘i on October 1 and 2, then happens in Kā‘anapali, Maui from October 7 through October 10 and finishes up on O‘ahu from October 14 through October 24.
“[The] Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival’s 2021 theme is “Mālama ‘Āina”—to care for the land—and was selected to foster a greater appreciation for Hawai‘i’s natural resources, lands and ocean as well as a sense of responsibility to give back and preserve our islands,” said Denise Yamaguchi, the festival’s co-founder and CEO, in a media statement.
Seventeen events throughout the course of the festival are to be organized in accordance with city and county COVID-related guidelines set for restaurants.
“We have modified our events to include chef collaboration dinners and smaller scale outdoor grand tasting events,” said Yamaguchi.
Attendees at outdoor events must show proof of vaccination or provide a negative COVID-10 test taken 48 hours prior to the event. “These requirements will be updated as new guidance from health and state officials becomes available,” she added.
The event’s format is also similar to what was changed in the past year’s festival, which continued on but with modifications. It included the introductions of chef-collaboration dinners at restaurants throughout O‘ahu along with virtual cook alongs and forums with industry leaders covering sustainable food sourcing and other topics.
“In 2020, we did consider cancelling the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival but decided to host modified smaller scale events because our agricultural and restaurant industries and local communities needed support more than ever,” said Yamaguchi.
COVID-19 travel restrictions have prevented festival organizers from inviting chefs and other culinary experts based outside of the U.S. to participate in this year’s event. However, the 2021 roster comes from both Hawai‘i and the mainland. Collectively, their backgrounds and expertise relate to the festival’s themes of sustainability, using locally sourced products and celebrating authentic culinary culture.
The festival’s over 65 food and beverage experts will choose from over 100 Hawai‘i products to use in making their dishes and beverages. The lineup will include Michelle Bernstein, Josiah Citrin, Celestino Drago, Graham Elliot, Elizabeth Falkner, Chris Kajioka, Mourad Lahlou, Niki Nakayama, Nancy Silverton, Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Jonathan Waxman.
Chefs Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi, who also co-founded the festival, will be participating as well.
Along with epicurean events, this year’s Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival will offer its participants and attendees something new. They can join in hands-on volunteer opportunities tied to the festival’s themed events and host islands. They can participate in activities ranging from shoreline cleanups and core reef preservation efforts to planting and harvesting native crops.
“Throughout the day, volunteers will hear from nonprofit partners and community leaders, learning about Hawaiian traditions, culture and efforts towards a sustainable future for the islands,” said Yamaguchi.
For tickets and more information, visit the festival’s website.