Every year on the first Saturday in April, Maui has its big agricultural festival — a celebration of the amazing and abundant products from the Valley Isle, showcased by some of their most talented chefs. It’s my favorite event on Maui, and although the Hawaii State Farm Fair is my client, I have to say it’s even better than that.
Every island has agriculture, but Maui has more of it compared to Oahu. And many of the chefs there have done farming, fishing and ranching at some point (some may still be into it) so they know exactly how each ingredient is produced. Sometimes, they are one step away from being the food source; their restaurants are adjacent to the farm, or they may be the one to have caught the fish that is now on your dinner table. On the flip side, you have some farmers who have been chefs, and they know what they need to do to add flavor as well as nutrition to each dish.
The event gets bigger and better every year, too. There are pony rides and a place to pet the animals, but you really want to check out the farmer’s market, where you can find a wide variety of Maui-grown products, and it’s all great quality at reasonable prices. This year, there was a separate tent to showcase Maui coffee, an industry that is taking off as the sugar operations close. You’ll also find food booths, educational displays and activities, and plants. The highlights, which I got to participate in, are the live chef’s challenge (like Iron Chef) and the Grand Tasting, where the best Maui chefs show their talents using all-local ingredients on the fly.
Here’s a look at that one day on Maui. Believe it or not, I was there for hours but didn’t have enough time to take photos of everything.
…and after that, I was full! The Grand Tasting alone will fill you up. This was the first year that I was a judge, so I ate from every booth, but usually there are a few that I have to miss because there’s so much. It is worth the price of admission!
If you want to take in the Maui Ag Fest, mark your calendar for the first Saturday in April. For more information, click here. To see all posts from the public about this event, search #MauiAg on instagram.
(Disclosure: air fare, hotel and car were provided by the Maui County Farm Bureau.)