WAILUA — “You have to wear a hat,” said Kehau Ka‘aihue. “It’s a brunch. This is the one time in the year we can do this.”
Billed as the Ultimate Sunday Brunch, Ka‘aihue and friends Lisa Berry, Britnie Vegas and Molly Baxter were among the hundreds of people who braved the morning rains and blustery winds to enjoy the 29th annual Taste of Hawaii at Smith’s Tropical Paradise, hosted by the Rotary Club of Kapaa.
“We always dress up,” explained a group describing themselves as The Aloha Crew. “We do this for all the food, and the alcohol.”
Proceeds from the annual extravaganza go to raise funds that enable the Rotary Club of Kapaa to make a difference in the community through its numerous service projects, scholarships for students, and grant-funding for nonprofit organizations.
“We’re lucky,” said Bob Kubota of Pono Market. “Our workers work hard, and I’m glad we can do this for them. They can have fun and enjoy all the food and drink. The Rotary Club of Kapaa does a lot to help the community and I’m happy we can take care of our workers and help the Rotary Club at the same time.”
Norman Dillard, the new food and beverage director at the Courtyard by Marriott at Coconut Beach, could not believe what was happening to him.
“I just got off the plane last night,” he said, grabbing trays of sauteed Kauai prawns, red Thai coconut curry, bean thread noodles, sugar snap peas and micro greens. “They have me working already.”
New for this year, Malama Auction provided live auctions between the musical acts.
“This is good,” said John John Genovese. “We get the merchandise moving and patrons can just enjoy the event until they’re ready to leave.”
The Taste of Hawaii also got collaborative help from the RSVP program, the Mokihana Aquatics swimming program, and other Rotary clubs on the island to ensure a good experience for the hundreds of people who flowed through the Smith’s gates.
“We definitely have more people cooking this year,” said Chris Young, president of the Rotary Club of Poipu Beach. “I was in charge of propane and counted almost 20 new stations where they were cooking. There are also a lot more craft beers than before.”
Josie Cortez, the Rotary Club of Kapaa president, and Ron Margolis served as co-chairmen for the successful fundraiser.