It’s a good thing I like onions.
I was invited to be a judge for the recipe contests at the 25th annual Maui Onion Festival at Whalers Village in Kaanapali on Maui.
I didn’t really know what to expect.
I figured there would be those sweet onions Maui is known for. But I didn’t expect the crowds of people clamoring for Maui onions in just about every form: sautéed, deep-fried, in sauces, in tacos, on pizzas. It was an onion frenzy!
This year’s festival featured the annual Maui onion-eating contests, food booths and cooking demonstrations by celebrated chefs like “Top Chef” alum Sheldon Simeon and Mark “Gooch” Noguchi of Pili Group (see below).
But I was here for the recipe contests — and I was ready!
The first contest featured dishes by chefs who work in Maui.
Here’s the willing dish by Ryan Luckey: a South American-inspired dish with local yuma root steamed down in Maui onions and milk with yellow aji chile and a Maui onion cilantro chimichurri on flat iron steak.
Here’s the first dish by Jojo Vasquez of The Plantation House Restaurant: Maui onion flan with balsamic onion, Kumu Farms organic beets, onion powder, rye-cumin soil and an edible flower garden. Truly loved this flan and presentation.
And here’s the winner, accepting his onion trophy. But to be honest, we were all winners. I got to try every single dish, every single cocktail — and I didn’t even need to brush my teeth in between! Can’t wait for next year!