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A Weekend at Halekulani

Cover Story Features

March 6, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Halekulani, a luxury hotel located beach-front in Waikiki, has always been at the forefront of the upscale hospitality industry. So it comes as no surprise that for the second straight year, this premier hotel and resort will be hosting “A Weekend of Sustainability” March 11-13 — an event held in conjunction with its luxury and lifestyle series, Halekulani Living, and in partnership with the nation’s leading architecture magazine, Architectural Digest.

  • Halekulani's own Vikram Garg will be one of several celebrity chefs on hand for "A Weekend of Sustainability."
  • Ahi Crudo featuring roasted Kahuku corn chaat with dry mango powder and an avocado vinaigrette.
  • Chilled Kona Lobster with Sumida Farm water-cress and Fenugreek butter.
  • Big Island Abalone Fritter, consisting of Nalo Greens and turmeric ginger dressing.
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As expected, the food will be plentiful! Guests will delight in An Evening of Sustainable Cuisine this Friday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Halekulani’s Garden Terrace, where fresh dishes showcasing the best local products will be prepared by celebrity chefs Vikram Garg of Halekulani, Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s Restaurants, and Ed Kenney of town and Downtown restaurants. In addition, master mixologist Julie Reiner will prepare cocktails for the evening. Proceeds will benefit Kapiolani Community College’s culinary students.

As for the rest of the weekend, guests will participate in various interactive events featuring leaders in environmentally conscious design, such as renowned landscape architect Andie Cockran and internationally acclaimed interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard. The weekend will wrap up on Sunday with the Architectural Digest Green Gala event from 6 to 9 p.m. in Halekulani’s Ballroom. The gala will celebrate sustainable design with a focus on classic Hawaiian architecture and will provide a glimpse into the future of Hawaii architecture. Guests also will enjoy Hawaii’s first non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) cuisine graciously prepared by chef Garg and his culinary team. Proceeds will benefit University of Hawaii’s School of Architecture.

Events are offered on an a la carte-basis with prices ranging from $50 to $225 per person. Advance reservations are required. For more information or to make reservations, call 931-5040.

Dining Out recently caught up with chef Garg — who oversees all culinary operations at Halekulani, including those at Orchids, La Mer, House Without a Key and Lewers Lounge — to discuss the upcoming event and learn more about culinary sustainability.

DO: Why did Halekulani partner up with Architectural Digest for this year’s event?

Garg: Halekulani proudly partnered with the nation’s leading architecture magazine to produce an event themed around a core issue relevant to today’s mindset: environmental sustainability. We intend for our partnership to last beyond the event and into the coming years.

DO: What is your specific role in the event?

Garg: I am creating a menu comprised of sustainable foods, and I am coordinating with guest chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Ed Kenney to represent sustainable and local ingredients from Hawaii.

DO: Do you think architectural sustainability and culinary sustainability go hand-in-hand?

Garg: Indeed, they do. Sustainability as a principle encompasses resources that are produced in an environmentally friendly method, that results in the least negative impact on the planet. Whether you’re talking about sourcing wood for a house or food for a table, the method that produces the fewest negative externalities is the one considered most sustainable. It is our responsibility to walk gently on this earth.

DO: Why is sustainability so important when it comes to food?

Garg: In the culinary world, we’re striving not only to meet current food needs, but also to maintain healthy ecosystems so that the generations to come will still have access to the same resources.

DO: You’ll be kicking off the weekend with “An Evening of Sustainable Cuisine,” along with other renowned chefs. What can guests expect during the three-day event?

Garg: Friday, we offer the finest of foods and entertainment from three of Hawaii’s top chefs and the farmers, who provide them with local and sustainable ingredients. We also feature cocktails created by award-winning mixologist Julie Reiner. On Saturday, guests will be inspired by lectures from two of America’s best-regarded industry leaders and a four-course, GMO-free menu crafted specifically for the gala night, again, keeping sustainability in mind.

DO: What will you personally be cooking up in honor of the event and what will the other chefs be preparing?

Garg: Of course, I will be cooking both nights. I am a cook first, then a chef! I’ll be preparing an Ahi Crudo featuring roasted Kahuku corn chaat with dry mango powder and an avocado vinaigrette; Big Island Abalone Fritter, consisting of Nalo Greens and turmeric ginger dressing; and Chilled Kona Lobster with Sumida Farm watercress and Fenugreek butter. Chef Ed Kenney, owner of town and Downtown restaurants, will prepare a menu of Shinsato Coppa di Testa, a blend of MA‘O Farm beets and pickled mustard seeds; Shinsato Pork Belly with braised MA‘O Farms Savory Cabbage; and lastly, Shinsato Chipolatas, featuring Grilled MA‘O Farms radicchio and saba. Last but not least, Chef Roy Yamaguchi, owner of Roy’s Restaurants, will serve up a Hamakua Mushroom Soup and Sandwich, featuring ham hock and Pioppini mushroom “head cheese” with fresh wasabi, and a mushroom bisque and truffle foam; Hawaiian Ono Sashimi, complete with Hawaiian vanilla vinaigrette, Big Island heart of palm and Kahuku sea asparagus; and a Red Veal Tartare, offering diners a taste of Vietnamese-style cold pho noodles, basil lime aioli and a quail egg. Pastry chef Mark Freischmidt of the Halekulani will be preparing desserts of Kona Coffee Cremeux, Macadamia Nut with Big Island Goat Cheese Bar, Roasted “Apple Banana” Ice Cream, Lilikoi Sorbet and 100 percent Kona Peaberry.

DO: What local products/produce will you be using in your cuisine?

Garg: I’ll be using Big Island abalone, Kona lobster, ahi, Kahuku corn, Nalo Greens, hearts of palm, Sumida Farm watercress, Hawaiian sea salt, chili pepper water, local avocado and fenugreek.

DO: How will this event benefit students at Kapiolani Community College’s Culinary Institute of the Pacific?

Garg: The proceeds from this event will be donated to the Culinary Institute of the Pacific. We believe in giving back to the community. In a perfect example of sustainability, sometimes the students whose education we support, are people we end up hiring upon graduation. It goes full circle.

DO: Is there a big emphasis on sustainable cuisine at the Halekulani itself?

Garg: Yes, and a typical example is the Hawaii-centric menu at Orchids (see photos). Most of our menu items are first sourced locally before we tap into the outside market, keeping in mind, of course, that supply and demand is sometimes a challenge.

DO: Where do you see sustainable cuisine headed in the near future?

Garg: As the global population continues to increase, I see no other possibility but for humans to go forward under the premise of sustainability — not only with cuisine, but with every other industry.

DO: What is the culinary philosophy at the Halekulani, and what can guests expect when they dine at any of the hotel restaurants?

Garg: Our philosophy is “cook globally, source locally.” We do this without compromising on the freshness and quality of food we provide to our guests.

Halekulani