The mango festival has come a long way in eight years since Mark and Candy Suiso first started it in Makaha. Starwood now puts on a big event, featuring cooking demos, a silent auction, a mini farmer’s market, mango tasting, and of course, a mango throwdown with eight renowned Oahu chefs creating mango-themed dishes, from sweet to savory.
The winner of this year’s mango throwdown: Chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka of MW Restaurant, with her mango “shave ice” atop mango ice cream and tapioca. Her team also did two cocktails, one with rum and one with tequila. If you’ve ever had the fruity shave ice dessert at MW, you know how this blows everything away — especially on hot Hawaii days.
Mango risotto? Chef Hiroyuki Mimura of Taormina Sicilian Cuisine topped his with grilled scallops, shrimp, kale and other goodies and it was so good, I’m going to head to the restaurant to get a full size and try the rest of their special July mango menu (ends July 31).
Chef Ed Kenney of town specializes in simple dishes, and his mango bread did not disappoint. At first I thought it would be plain, because it looked so simple. But they heated each slice on a griddle, then topped it with fresh ricotta and olive oil. The sprinkle of Hawaiian salt flakes put it over the top, giving each bite had a range of flavors and textures. It was heavy, though, so I could only eat one; if I had room, I seriously would have eaten two.
Chef Lee Anne Wong of Koko Head Cafe, the reigning champion, made malasadas stuffed with mangoes and ricotta, then drizzled with mango sauce and — get this — truffle oil. You could smell the goodness from the other side of the courtyard! The edible flowers were a gorgeous little touch.
Chef Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki’s Grill made a great mango-macadamia-coconut crab cake with mango puree — the red dot you see is a baby tomato. I love it when chefs do savory dishes with mangoes! This one should go on the regular menu!
Five years ago, I blogged about Carolyn Tada Portuondo when she had Caked Las Vegas. She’s now back home and is now the executive pastry chef at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. She hit it out of the ballpark with her mango semifreddo atop a vanilla wafer and mango sauce…all topped with mango pop rocks.
I always say that I liked all the dishes at this event, and it’s true! The dishes this year were even better than before, though. I hope the restaurants have these dishes when I go to visit for more!