Corks and Forks with Hawaiian Airlines

Thanks-to-Hawaiian-Airlines

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After an outstanding morning drinking world-class wine with Colgin Cellars and Kermit Lynch and an afternoon partially sleeping off all that outstanding, world-class wine, I was super excited for the weekend’s main (sold out) event, the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival Corks & Forks party, this year presented by Hawaiian Airlines, my gracious host for the weekend. I could not wait to try dishes from some of my chef heroes!

The event was held on the rooftop of the Convention Center and you could not have asked for a prettier evening. Just look at that sky!

Corks and Forks on the Convention Center Rooftop

The Hawaiian Airlines team and I made our way through the food offerings, devouring every bite we discovered. After attending other food events with big named stars who have to prepare their food under extraordinary circumstances, often impacting the delivery and taste of the food, I can honestly say that I did not have one bite a food that wasn’t exceptional.

I don’t go to a lot of food festivals anymore, they are just too crowded, the people get rowdy and sometimes the food (understanding the constrained circumstances that they are prepared under) isn’t always top-notch. But, this event, it totally blew me away and I would come back again in a heartbeat! The event was sold out, but the numbers were very manageable. I never felt crowded our pushed. If I did wait in a line, it was a quick line. The flow of the crowds was well thought out, everything planned and organized to the greatest detail. Hawaii Food and Wine Festival team – you rock!

The Hawaiian Airlines team, from their pilots and flight attendants, to their social media team and ground staff are one big ohana family that pulls you in, gives you a hug and a kiss and fills a warm place in your heart. Every single person I met became my long lost friend and they are wonderful people – which obviously translates when you fly with them!

And the food! Let me share some highlights!

We started with ceviche of Kona and Spanner Crab with buckwheat & yuzu from Chef Tetsuya Wakuda of Tesuya restaurant in Sydney, Australia. The yuzu added a nice bright note and I loved the addition of buckwheat farro.

Corks and Forks - HFWF14-Ceviche

Next came Nobu-style ceviche from Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. I’ve had Nobu’s amazing sushi in San Diego, so I knew I was in for a treat. One of the Hawaiian Airlines representatives went to high school with the Executive Chef from Nobu’s Waikiki restaurant and when we had finished the ceviche, he added a shot of 100% organic (100% delicious) Leyenda tequila – that went down smooth!

Corks and Forks -Nobu-Ceviche

I have not eaten too much taro, except in dumsum, but after having (and loving) Pa’ i ‘ai when I had lunch at Hawaiian Airlines, I couldn’t wait to try it in another form, the taro croquette from Chef Yuji Wakiya of Wakiya in Tokyo, was delicious! These look like meatballs and frankly, I think between the Pa’ i ‘ai and these croquettes, that taro makes an excellent meat substitute.

Corks and Forks -Taro-Croquette

We stopped to speak with some Australian media I had met at a progressive dinner the evening before at The Modern Honolulu (my hotel host for the weekend, more on them in a separate post). Every person I have ever met from New Zealand and Australia have always been a lot of fun and Julia and Paul were no exception. I could have talked to them all night, but then the food called and we were off again.

Next up was air dried Kulana ribeye with Naked Cow Dairy Hawaii Tomme and pickled pohole from Chef Ed Kenney of TOWN Restaurant in Honolulu. Naked Cow Dairy appeared at several stops throughout the evening including in the cheese frosting on many cupcakes. I definitely want to check out this dairy on my next trip.

Corks and Forks -Beef

Inside the Hawaiian Airlines tent, their Executive Chef Chai, who I had the pleasure of interviewing was offering a baked stuffed cherry stone clams with Kona lobster, fresh Kuaui prawn, scallop and crab meat. A lot of times these type of stuffed seafood dishes can turn out greasy or you taste more of the filling than the seafood, but not this bite, the seafood shown through loud and clear!

Corks and Forks ChefChai

How could someone resist bites of food that look like this? This was a Pulehu Drumstick with sweet gold pineapple relish and romesco sauce.

Corks and Forks -Drumsticks

Hoping for some of Barbuto’s Jonathan Waxman’s famous chicken, but getting a magnificent Ono with bok choy, heirloom tomatoes, hearts of palm and sweet onions instead, I had no complaints. I love hearts of palm and rarely see it in restaurants so I was delighted.

Corks and Forks -Waxman-Ono

Chef Jonathan Waxman was on hand serving his Ono, always a treat to see the chefs in action!

Corks and Forks Chef Waxman
I have had a lot of seafood pancakes lately. Love the one at Berkeley’s Bowl’d and just had the Japanese verion at Michael Mina’s new Pabu. The mini Korean Shrimp Pancakes with cucumber kimchee and gochujang sauce, plus a shot of sake being offered by Chef Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger Bar & Restaurant in Wellesley, MA was my bite of the night.

Corks and Forks Ming Tsai Seafood Cake

Of course he was also the total character I have come to expect from watching Top Chef. Here he is posing for me!

Corks and Forks Ming Tsai

If Ming is an over-the-top character, than Chef Hubert Keller is the epitome of cool. Laid back, conversational and downright friendly. He is such a pleasure to talk to. He even shared his DJ’ing hobby with one of the Sydney reporters. He picks out all the music for his restaurants and is one cool cat. Here he is modeling his Thai coconut soup with Kuaui shrimp, toasted orzo, snow peas, tomato and kaffir lime. It was tangy, bitter, sweet, spicy – delicious!

Corks and Forks Hubert Keller

There were desserts too, many of which I didn’t try, but they all looked delicious, chefs like Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar and cupcakes from Hokulani Bakery are hard to pass up, but I was in a savory mood. One sweet bite treat I did have was an assortment of chocolates from Mark Freischmidt of Halekulani in Honolulu. Wow! I had a piece of malted chocolate heaven that was to die for!

As I said in my final tweet of the night:

Corks and Forks Last Tweet

I can’t thank Hawaiian Airlines enough for their generous sponsorship of my flight to Oahu this weekend to attend the festival. They hosted me along with The Modern Honolulu hotel and the Oahu Visitors Bureau.

How about you? Have you been to a food and wine festival? What was the best thing you ever ate? Do tell!

64 Comments

  1. Orsi
    September 8, 2014

    Unfortunately I’ve never been to any, but this sounds so nice! Every single dish you posted a pic about looks yumm and I really like the mood of the 2nd pic 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 9, 2014

      @Orsi, yes the color of the sky was fantastic.

      Reply
  2. Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet
    September 8, 2014

    What a fun festival!! I generally feel the same way you do about food festivals, but I’m happy to hear this one was refreshingly different. I’d definitely love to attend it in the future. Love your article and the pics – what a delicious variety of foods! I’ve never flown Hawaiian Airlines before but based on your experience I will definitely be considering them for my upcoming trip to Hawaii. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 9, 2014

      @Kimberly, I will definitely return to this one, it is a festival done right! I had not flown Hawaiian Air until this year and will never return to Hawaii on any other carrier, they are amazing tip to tail!

      Reply
  3. JenX67
    September 8, 2014

    Lordy, this is awesome! Look at these yummy photos. I love the pink glowy lantern and I wish I’d thought of “Corks and Forks!”

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 9, 2014

      @Jen, the sky was insanely beautiful, the perfect setting for the evening of deliciousness!

      Reply
  4. Heather // girlichef
    September 8, 2014

    Amazing (and ohmygosh Ming Tsai)! I’m dying to go to Hawaii one day, and that festival looks like someplace I’d love to be. I will remember Hawaiian Airlines when I eventually do start planning my trip (I’m confident)!
    p.s. – we have a local “foodie” group called Michiana Cork and Fork – I just love that phrase.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 9, 2014

      @Heather, Corks & Forks is such a cool name! Ming is such a comedian, and so easy to talk to!

      Reply
  5. Barrie
    September 8, 2014

    I’ve never been to a food and wine festival but wow…not only was the view beautiful, the food looked amazing! So unique!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 9, 2014

      @Barry, yes, it was an amazing evening!

      Reply
  6. laurie damrose
    September 8, 2014

    I loved seeing all the beautiful choices you had.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 9, 2014

      @Laurie, thanks, the choices were easy since everything was so good!

      Reply
  7. Wow, this looks so fun!! I can’t believe that of all the crazy places I’ve traveled I’ve never been to Hawaii. I’ve heard such great things about Hawaiian airlines – can’t wait to plan a trip!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 9, 2014

      @Anetta, you should definitely make a stop, every time I go I realize how much there is to do, see and eat!

      Reply
  8. Lori @ RecipeGirl
    September 8, 2014

    What a terrific opportunity for you!!! Everything looks amazing. It’s about time my husband and I head back to Hawaii for some rest, relaxation and good FOOD!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 9, 2014

      @Lori, you must do that, you can do as little or as much as you want, with good food always available, hope you get to return there soon!

      Reply
  9. Sherry Ott
    September 8, 2014

    What a great reason to head over to Hawaii! The food scene there is so wonderful it would be fun to get to go to a festival like this to taste everything in one place! Did you happen to meet or see Chef Mavro – he’s a Hawaiian chef who I know there and really love his food too.
    Will have to put this on my radar for next year!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 9, 2014

      @Sherry, I was really impressed and can’t wait to return. Chef Mavro was there and I had his dish (delish!) as the night got darker food photos were not possible, I just had to devour everything with my eyes!

      Reply
  10. Rachelle
    September 8, 2014

    How fun! I love Chef Ming. He’s so full of energy and yet very approachable in person.
    Looks like it was a great party! Yummy-looking too.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 9, 2014

      @Rachelle, he was hilarious and so fun to talk to!

      Reply
  11. Nuresha Perera
    September 9, 2014

    having a lot of fun ha????????

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 9, 2014

      @Nuresha, yes! How about you?

      Reply
  12. [email protected]
    September 9, 2014

    Oh… Hawaii is pretty much my favorite place on earth. I am going to have to plan for this festival next year!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 9, 2014

      @Sommer, I am already making my plans for next year…it is fantastic!

      Reply
  13. LyndaS
    September 9, 2014

    Wow! I think that might just be the festival of all festivals. I want to fly on Hawaiian Air. I imagine that they must serve some of the best food on an airplane.

    Reply
  14. lola
    September 10, 2014

    you go to the best parties!
    love the picture of the top chef, and that chicken…. yummy

    Reply
  15. Amanda
    September 10, 2014

    Look at all that delicious food. Looks like you had a great time at the festival 🙂

    Reply
  16. Leyla
    September 12, 2014

    I think if you’re American or live in the USA then Hawaii is a given holiday destination. Not so for us Europeans, but I wonder, why not? I know it’s not next door but neither are many other places we visit. I hadn’t really thought much about Hawaii but seeing all this culinary lusciousness makes me think this is a wonderful foodie destination – and I will travel far for great food. I checked ticket prices and guess what? It costs the same to fly to Hawaii as it does to the US West Coast… worth considering!

    Reply
  17. Melissa
    September 16, 2014

    I have never been to a food and wine festival, but it sounds like going to one in Hawaii makes it even better lol.

    Reply
  18. Charlotte @charlotteslittleweb
    September 16, 2014

    Oh. My. Goodness. This is event just ruined any lunch I could possibly get in my city! WOW. Everything looks incredible! That ceviche will be in my mind all day! What a great event to partake in. Thank you for sharing your drool-worthy photos!

    Reply
  19. Jenna @ A Savory Feast
    September 16, 2014

    This looks like a foodie’s paradise! I would love to find an event like this in my area.

    Reply
  20. Fi
    September 16, 2014

    Wow! This looks like such a fun event, all those foods look so delicious!

    Reply
  21. Lindsay
    September 16, 2014

    This is so cool! Looks like a great time 🙂

    Reply
  22. Kayli Schattner
    September 16, 2014

    This looks like such a fun (and delicious) event!!

    Reply
  23. The Accidental Mama
    September 16, 2014

    Great photos! Looks like a wonderful time!
    xoxo
    The Accidental Mama
    http://theaccidentalmama.com

    Reply
  24. Laurel Wads
    September 16, 2014

    What a fun trip. The food looks so good!

    Reply
  25. Stefany
    September 16, 2014

    I haven’t ever been to any event like this but I would love it. I would love try new foods in an atmosphere like that!

    Reply
  26. Erica
    September 16, 2014

    Okay as if your beautiful pictures weren’t enough, I looked at your just got back, and going to list. Total traveling envy going on over here!

    Reply
  27. Winter White
    September 16, 2014

    What a great opportunity! I feel the same way at food festivals, it’s so hard to really enjoy them especially when they are so easy to come by. Yours looked like the exception! Hawaii is filed under one of the place I can’t wait to go to!

    Reply
  28. Brenda
    September 16, 2014

    Love the photos! It looks like such a fun event!

    Reply
  29. Amby Felix
    September 17, 2014

    uh… how the heck do I sign up to get this sponsored? lol!! This sounds right up my ally for professional and leisure reasons. I do attend a lot of food festivals and feel the same way. Everything looks amazing and I LOVE NOBU!!!!!!! One of California’s many amazing restaurants! If I had more of an Asian influence during my culinary training I would SO want to work for chef Nobu! 🙂

    Reply
  30. Shipra
    September 17, 2014

    Looks like a fun and delicious event! <3

    Reply
  31. Katie Matthews
    September 17, 2014

    This looks like a really fun event and my does that food look delicious! So tasty! Amazing that you got to interview and meet the chef!

    Katie <3

    Reply
  32. Jessica Doll
    September 17, 2014

    This looks like a wonderful time. I love the big ball decorations they had.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 17, 2014

      @Jessica, those balls were way cool, I wish I had gotten a photo of myself with one!

      Reply
  33. Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes
    September 17, 2014

    I’ve never been to a food festival before, but this looks so good!

    Reply
  34. kendall
    September 17, 2014

    Oh. my. goodness. Everything looks SO good! I’m drooling over here!

    Reply
  35. Rebekah
    September 17, 2014

    Oh my gosh that all looks so delicious! I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 18, 2014

      @Rebekah, where would you go? What would you like to do there?

      Reply
  36. Camesha
    September 17, 2014

    Whoa! I’ve never been. Everything here looks awesome!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 18, 2014

      @Camesha, it was a great night!

      Reply
  37. Alyssa
    September 17, 2014

    How beautiful is that sky picture! I love it! I’m so glad you had a good time!!! Looks like so much fun and good food!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 18, 2014

      @Alyssa, it was an amazing setting for the evening, I have never seen bad light on any evening I have been in Hawaii, it is magical there!

      Reply
  38. JoAnn
    September 17, 2014

    Wow! This looks like so much fun! I have never been to a food and wine festival, but I have been dying to try one!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 18, 2014

      @JoAnn, I recommend a small one, the larger ones can be crowded and hard to navigate. This one was a lot of fun!

      Reply
  39. Lauren
    September 17, 2014

    Ummmmmm that is an incredible sponsor to have. The food looked incredible and I was drooling over the seafood! Thank you for taking us on your journey!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 18, 2014

      @Lauren, it was a great night and I am very lucky to work with such a great brand, the people at Hawaiian Airlines are truly exceptional.

      Reply
  40. Kristen
    September 18, 2014

    GAH! I envy you and all this travel you do! Bravo! This event looked marvelous!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 18, 2014

      @Kristen, thanks, I am really blessed. But don’t have to get on a plane to explore really cool stuff – it is all around us no matter where we live!

      Reply
  41. lauriel
    September 18, 2014

    The dried ribeye and ono look pretty intriguing! I’d be happy to sample any of those though, and just to be in Hawaii. 😉 What a lovely, yummy experience! Thanks for sharing the tantalizing photos. :9

    xo,
    lauriel
    EyeForElegance.com

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 18, 2014

      @Lauriel, the dried ribeye was very interesting combined with the cheese and pickled vegetables, it was a great “delivery system” for all the ingredients. The ono was my second favorite thing of the night, it was moist and the combination with the hearts of palm was incredible!

      Reply
  42. Alice
    October 3, 2014

    Oh wow Hawaii is one of the top places in the world I’d love to go to! The food looks amazing! I am so jealous 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 3, 2014

      @Alice, which island are you interested in going to?

      Reply
  43. Waikiki SPAMJam 2015
    March 18, 2019

    […] also visited with Chef Chai whom I had the pleasure of interviewing and meeting at the Food & Wine Festival last September. He is friendly, passionate and very […]

    Reply

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