Taste of Hawai‘i – Eat, drink and go green at Kapa‘a Rotary’s annual event

If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it …” so says William Shakespeare’s love-sick Orsino in the comedy “Twelfth Night.”

The Kapa‘a Rotary’s Taste of Hawai‘i is Kaua‘i’s answer to the 17th century festival of all day music and feasting. Guests at the June 3 fundraising extravaganza will be enjoying the decadence of the state’s finest culinary artists and the island’s most talented musicians.

Drink, food and tunes will be served all day long, but this year’s event gives the island one more way to rejoice: the serving ware, napkins and cups are all eco-friendly and biodegradable.

Consistently voted as one of the year’s most beloved community events by Kaua‘i residents, the lists of chefs, beverage suppliers and bands of this year’s Taste of Hawai‘i aim to outdo all previous years. This is the 19th annual fundraising event for the Kapa‘a Rotary, the non-profit community service organization that puts the “Service above Self” motto into motion.

“God bless thee; and put meekness in thy mind, love, charity, obedience, and true duty!” exclaims the Duchess of York in “Richard the Third.” According to the Kapa‘a Rotary’s pledge, “Most of the profits from this event go back to the community to help other worthy non-profit groups to fund scholarships for high school and community college students. A portion of the funds go abroad where, working in partnership with Rotary clubs in third-world countries, we help fund basic necessities.”

The event, also known as “the ultimate Sunday brunch” is always held on the first Sunday of June — a perfect way to kick off the summer. From 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. guests will enjoy gourmet food from 50 of Hawai‘i’s best chefs, 15 beverage stations and enjoy music from 13 of Kaua‘i’s home-grown bands. Ranging from blues to Hawaiiana, rock to folk, the bands alone warrant the price of admission at $75 a ticket (in advance).

Some of the returning chefs include Casey Halpem of Cafe di Amici, who makes a popular crispy Chinese mustard shrimp with lillikoi black bean glaze; Dennis Wong and family, who make huli-huli pork; Tylun Pang of Five Palms, who makes tempura softies and Asian slaw; the Grand Hyatt’s Ray Baysa and Simon Vojdani, who make orange-mango baby back ribs and chichimi-crusted ahi on namasu salad; and Mark Sassone, who makes shrimp and salmon sushi-tempura with black bean crust.

First-timers to the event include Chef Raf from the Maui Prince Hotel, who plans to make braised short ribs “Camarillo style” and wild mushroom mashed potatoes with truffle essence; and Reggie Berry and Mark and Candace Myers of Wahoo’s, offering jerk chicken with peas and New Orleans style donuts.

Parched? “I would give all my fame for a pot of Ale,” says King Henry in “Henry V.” In Kaua‘i, head to one of the 15 beverage stations including Better Brands, Jamba Juice, Kauai Coffee, Kona Brewing Company, Maui Brewing Company, Menehune Water Company, Small Town Coffee, Starbucks, Southern Wine & Spirits and Waimea Brewing Company.

With spirited and non-alchoholic beverages available, guests will wear wrist-bands designating their over 21 status, yet be weary with such bounty-aflow, as the Clown explains to Olivia in “Twelfth Night” what too much drink can do: “What’s a drunken man like?” The Clown replies, “Like a drowned man, a fool, and a madman. One draught above heat makes him a fool, the seconds mads him, and a third drowns him.” Careful, for the Wailua River is near!

“For the second year in a row,” writes Pam Brown, one of the event’s coordinators and most enthusiastic supporters, “we are ‘green,’ using biodegradable materials for all of our cups, plates, utensils and trays. It’s a little more expensive to do this, and being a non-profit organization putting on a fundraiser, the cost was of concern to us, but we are proud and so thankful to Unlimited Construction Services Inc. for sponsoring our ‘greenness.’”

Peter Robson, president of Unlimited Construction, knows what Troilus and Cressida mean when they say “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,” by the importance his company places on using environmentally responsible materials and methods “both in building supplies and waste reduction. As one of our corporate priorities, we are happy to underwrite The Taste of Hawai‘i’s ability to do the same.”

As a past president of Kapa‘a Rotary in 2000, chairman of the event, and current member, Robson already has his tickets. “I am looking forward to this year’s event — it’s a wonderful day,” he said.

Smith’s Tropical Paradise on the Wailua River will be the playground of the all day festival. A very special blessing by Kumu Kehau Kekua of Halau Palaihiwa O Kaipuwai of Waipouli will include an appreciation of this area of the island.

“We hope to bring light to people’s appreciation of where they are during this event. It will be an opportunity to make a real connection with the history of the place,” said Kumu Kehau.

In addition to the food, drink and music, a silent auction featuring jewelry, art and restaurant gift certificates will be conducted throughout the day. All proceeds will go to the Kapa‘a Rotary fund-raising pool.

Donations of time and energy from the talented chefs and musicians make the event possible. “We are so grateful for everyone’s participation in making this a truly exceptional day,” said Brown.

And lest ye forget to trade gold for tickets, a handsome wife may transform in to Shakespeare’s tempestuous Kate in “The Taming of a Shrew”: “What, did he marry me to famish me? Beggars, that come unto my father’s door, upon entreaty have a present aims; If not, elsewhere they meet with charity: But I, who never knew how to entreat, nor never needed that I should entreat, Am starved for meat, giddy for lack of sleep; prithee go and get me some repast; I care not what, so it be wholesome food.”

And so goes the final plea, better get thee to Taste of Hawai‘i, where food, drink and music shall feed the tongue, the ear and the eye.

Get your tickets

$75 advance, $80 at the door — Space is limited

In Kapa‘a: Jim Saylor Jewelers; The Shell Factory; Vicky’s Fabrics; Zack’s Frozen Yogurt in the Coconut Marketplace

In Lihu‘e: Ink Spot Printing; The Taro Fields in the Kaua‘i Marriott

In Koloa: Progressive Expressions

In Hanapape: Westside Pharmacy

In the Princeville Center: The Magic Dragon

Call Richard at 245-2903.

Or buy your tickets online at:www.tasteofhawaii.com.

• Keya Keita, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 or kkeita@kauaipubco.com.


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