Maui Chefs Invitational: BBQ
What happens when you pair eight prominent chefs with a perfect Maui Sunday and live music by the inimitable Marty Dread—and set it all among the exquisite grounds of Maui Tropical Plantation?
Nothing less than pure exuberance, fantastic eats, and a celebration that’ll appeal to the whole family.
The 1st Annual Maui Chefs Invitational—a three-day fête showcasing some of the most visionary culinary masters in the U.S.—will culminate in a barbecue and celebration on Sunday, November 13th. Held in gorgeous Waikapu, this five-hour shindig will highlight Maui’s marvelous bounty and give kama’aina and keiki the chance to come together to enjoy what these star chefs have to offer.
Intrigued? Here’s the deets:
Sunday, November 13th, 2016
The Chefs Barbecue Celebration will be held at Maui Tropical Plantation—a leading destination that features a plethora of luscious crops and family-fun activities. The revelry will unfold on the lawn in front of The Mill House’s Shell Theater, which is next to spellbinding views of the West Maui Mountains and a laidback vibe that matches the plantation’s lush vegetation.
Maui Chefs Invitational will showcase eight remarkable chefs from around the country:
Jeff Scheer has taken home some of Maui’s greatest culinary honors for a reason: The Ohio native and ‘Aipono Chef of the Year Award winner brings to the table an impressive mix of acumen and creative spirit—to say nothing of his devotion to providing patrons with a homegrown experience. A former volunteer at Kula’s Kupa’a Farms and a graduate of the Maui Culinary Academy, Scheer works closely with the island’s ranchers and farmers and draws inspiration for his menu from the crops just outside his kitchen. Among his most outstanding dishes? Cured akule (big-eyed scad fish) boquerones and a melt-in-your-mouth lilikoi custard with house-made vanilla wafers and edible flowers.
Notable trendsetter and Top Chef alum Gregory Gourdet has been rolling in top accolades—and top spots at the nation’s finest restaurants—since graduating from The Culinary Institute of America in New York City. Since then, he’s served as a saucier under Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s tutelage, helmed kitchens that range from Urban Farmer Restaurant to 66, and demonstrated his love for wholesome, elegant food on TV and around the nation. As the Chef de Cuisine at Portland’s Departure, Gourdet—a Bikram yoga devotee and avid marathon runner—presents an all-encompassing approach that results in dishes like Brussel sprouts with chili, lime, and mint, and ginger-glazed halibut with whole roasted carrots.
Francis Derby is as skilled with foam makers as he is with a butcher’s cleaver: The Long Island native started working in kitchens at the age of 14 and hasn’t stopped since, scoring roles at Michelin-starred venues and earning a name for himself as a chef of vision and pedigree. Today, Derby mans the famed menu at The Cannibal, a meat-centric spot with locations in California and New York. There, he shows off his playful side with pastrami-style pig head and pâté en croute with squab mousse and foie gras.
Chicago Tribune’s 2014 Chef of the Year Award winner Lee Wolen is just as quick to embrace humble root vegetables as he is to appreciate exotic takes on old standards. Originally hailing from Cleveland, Wolen—who has worked at venues as glittering and famous as Eleven Madison Park and The Peninsula—has a penchant for simple dishes that are rich in natural flavor. Among his most praised? A smoked pork loin “Caesar” salad with fermented broccoli and parmesan crisps, and salt-cod ravioli in a garlicky cream sauce.
Pastry chef extraordinaire Maya Erickson “grew up connected to where food comes from” with a mother who loved watching cooking shows and baking elaborate cakes. Today, the young prodigy—who baked at San Francisco’s wildly popular Lazy Bear and studied under Elizabeth Falkner—likes to enhance her desserts with ingredients as unusual as wood, curry, and pink peppercorns, and whisks together dishes that range from beet and chocolate chibouste to a “Breakfast of Champions”—an Orson concoction of cinnamon ice cream, bourbon caramel, French toast, and whipped cream.
Bradley Kilgore takes his cues from cultures around the world as the Executive Chef at Miami’s fresh and fabulous Alter. There, the enthusiastic volunteer, Kansas City native, and J & G Grill alum delights diners with an eclectic menu that includes beef tartare with snow crab and warm ghee vinaigrette, and cinnamon-smoked apples with miso and cider-caramel. Consider it unsurprising: The lion’s share of his training took place in spots as varied as Denver and Italy.
Local Mauians who attend Sunday’s Barbecue Celebration will see a familiar face in Iron Chef favorite Sheldon Simeon. The founder and owner of the island’s Tin Roof, Simeon—who hails from the Big Island and is substantially influenced by his Filipino heritage—has been thrilling taste buds around Maui since serving as the Chef de Cuisine at Wailea’s Mala and opening Lahaina’s Star Noodle. His innovative cuisine is inspired by his worldly experience—think of scallop shots with ginger-scallion pesto in dashi and Hana fiddlehead ferns with Maui onion, kombu, dried shrimp, and sesame.
Honolulu transplant and media maven Lee Anne Wong has staged and worked at some of the most famous restaurants in the world, including The French Laundry, Nobu, and Chicago’s Charlie Trotter’s. A second-generation Chinese American and passionate traveler, she’s a master at creating lavish dishes that call to mind her Asian roots, like kimchi mandu and vegetable dumplings with brown butter crème fraiche.
Sunday’s Barbecue Celebration will also feature live music by Maui’s beloved Marty Dread, who is widely considered Hawaii’s ambassador of reggae. Having released 16 albums throughout his storied career, Marty Dread has performed at various venues around the globe, including the White House, Moscow’s Red Square, and Harlem’s Cotton Club (as well as throughout the country while touring with another Maui fave, Willie Nelson). Well-versed in singing for crowds both large and small—he’s a frequent figure on Maui’s sunset cruises —Marty blends classic reggae with an aloha sensibility and a fondness for oldies. He’s worked with Kris Kristofferson, Inner Circle, Oshen, and Common Sense, and recently released “Upcountry Boy”—a compilation of cherished covers.
Following several days of sourcing fresh ingredients from local farmers, Sunday’s Barbecue Celebration will offer guests a more casual get-together than Friday and Saturday night’s events. Open to the public and ideal for industry workers and the entire family—with keiki 14 and under getting in free when accompanied by a paying adult—the outdoor party gives guests the chance to talk story with the eminent chefs, watch them in action, and taste their terrific offerings at service stations around the lawn. Ice cold beers will be served by Maui Brewing Co., while Hali’imaile Distilling will be crafting killer cocktails with local ingredients and spirits.
Tickets are $65 and inclusive of food, tax and gratuity; beverages are available for purchase. While reservations for Sunday aren’t required, they are encouraged—the event is open only to the first 300 people. For tickets and more information, go to Maui Chefs Invitational. Hope to see you there!