for eight hours – it represents the old – and the new comes in the form of the presentation, served with steamed starfish and a drizzle of mango sauce. If you’ve ever been to a Hawaiian luau, you will have seen this whole slowcooked pig paraded through the crowd in a ceremonial style for carving.
Thankfully, the next morning starts with a mass yoga class at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach hotel, which has been my base for the festival. A sudden and unexpected downpour, typical in Honolulu from September to November, brings the assembled crowd of more than 50 indoors to downward dog alongside the huge outrigger canoe in the foyer that gave the hotel chain its name.
The morning yoga session is a perfect start to the day, which ends at the Rooftop Garden of the Hawaii Convention Centre and the Hawaiian Airlines foodie presentation, Corks & Forks.
Chef Chai Chaowasaree, the Bangkok-born chef and owner of Singha Thai Cuisine in Waikiki, is a star of the show. He is considered one of Hawaii’s top regional chefs and has helped create the menu for Hawaiian Airlines for five years. “I believe the Hawaiian experience starts when you board a Hawaiian Airlines flight and I want to give visitors to the island a taste of our cuisine before they even get here,” chef Chai explains.
“We are restricted by FDA guidelines, which means we can’t serve anything raw and have to prepare food that won’t dry out when it’s heated in the air, so instead of filet mignon, we serve short ribs, instead of chicken breast, it’s chicken pie, but always full of flavour.”
The next day I fly out of Honolulu on a Hawaiian Airlines flight, a few kilos heavier, but still looking forward to my in-flight meal for the first time.
I’m not disappointed by the teriyaki chicken served in the plastic tray, now I know how carefully chef Chai plans and prepares the simple but tasty meals to tempt visitors to the island.
DELICIOUS MOMENTS: (from main) Entertainment at the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival; and Andrew Le’s basa fish with turmeric, dill and vermicelli noodles.