Maui Ag Fest 2017

This past weekend was Maui County’s 10th annual Agricultural Festival, and it’s one of my favorite events on the Valley Isle. It’s like the Farm Fair, but condensed into one day, and has a huge variety of local produce — it’s like a farmer’s market on steroids!

These are just a FEW of the things available for sale. I couldn’t get a photo of everything since there were massive crowds every time I tried to get in! If you’re looking for fresh produce, the Maui Ag Fest always has a lot to offer, and at truly cheap prices. I recommend going early to get the best selection — it seems like Maui people show up early to events, unlike Honolulu people who roll in halfway through.

One of the highlights of the morning festivities is the Live Chef’s Challenge, which is like an Iron Chef competition, but in teams led by Maui chefs. This year they were challenged to create one “Maui Ag” dish, which seemed to be all vegetarian, and one protein dish. I was lucky to be a judge in this competition.

The Live Challenge chefs getting ready to pull their ingredients.
Everyone was watching us eat!

I can’t remember all the dishes or who created them, since the judging was actually really hectic. It got so frantic that at one point, I had to forget about taking a photo of the food. So I think the ahi dish is missing.

FYI for the record, the Maui beef taco on an ‘ulu tortilla was my (and I think Olena Heu’s) favorite. It was one that I wanted to keep eating, and Olena said she was sad when they took it away from her.

The winners were Team No Apron. Now, I know I said the Maui beef taco was my favorite, but everything was outstanding! And I definitely could eat more of these winning dishes.

The winning Live Chef Challenge team.
The winning charred cabbage with coconut Green Goddess dressing.
The winning pork belly loco moco.

The event also features live entertainment, food trucks, an animal petting area, coffee, crafts, and an educational tent. I’ve blogged this before, so I won’t bore you with all the photos of those activities. But there’s definitely something for everyone.

The participating chefs for the Grand Tasting.

The highlight of the day is the Grand Tasting, which costs extra for attendees but is worth it. About a dozen Maui chefs are paired with various local farms to create new, different dishes. I don’t know if they ever recreate the dishes at their own restaurants, but some of them should!

David Viviano of Cane & Canoe at the Montage Kapalua won the vegetarian category with his goat cheese tempura on arugula with beets and oranges.
It was a winning day for The Ritz Carlton Kapalua’s Alvin Savella, who won Best Protein and Fan Favorite with his fried beef cheeks and sous vide farm egg topped with kalamugay chimichurri.

I can’t wait for next year. The Maui Agricultural Festival is held on the first Saturday in April at Maui Tropical Plantation. If you want to make plans for next year, click here for more information.

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Melissa Chang

Melissa has been blogging regularly since 2007 and has more than 25 years’ experience in marketing and public relations. She is currently an independent marketing consultant, specializing in social media. Follow her @Melissa808 on Instagram and Twitter.

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