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Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Kani Ka Pila Grille

Restaurant Insider

December 18, 2022

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

ANNE LEE speaks with University of Hawaii men’s basketball coach ERAN GANOT

The sixth annual Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser kicks off at 7 p.m. Dec. 20 at The Outrigger ReefWaikiki Beach Resort’s Kani Ka Pila Grille, where fans are invited to enjoy dishes prepared by executive chef Dean Kamiya and meet the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic’s participating coaches.

Coral Reef

Coaches vs. Cancer is a national initiative, and we are blessed to have coach Ganot as part of the national council that is spearheading this fight to crush this disease.

Tickets are $150 (including food and drink). For more information, visit hawaiibowlfoundation.org or call 808-523-3688. Bid on auction items at cvchawaii2022.givesmart.com.

Braised Beef Short Rib Sliders

AL: How did this fundraiser start?

EG: The Coaches vs. Cancer program is a nationwide collaboration between American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. When I became the head coach here in 2015, we played Oklahoma. The team was led by coach Lon Krueger, who is the current chair. Cancer is a cause that I hold dear to my heart, as I have had many people close to me that have been affected by this terrible disease. After the tournament, I reached out to one of his staff members and expressed my interest in how to get more involved. A few moments later, I received a call from coach Kruger, who really got me engaged. I attended his annual fundraiser in Las Vegas, but I wanted to be able to do something similar here in Hawaii.

Veggie Crudite, Hummus and Taro Chips

In my second year of coaching in 2016, we introduced our first event held at Murphy’s Bar & Grill, and our guest was Roy Williams. (We happened to be playing North Carolina who had just won the national championship the year prior, this was a pretty big deal.)

What I learned from this is that everyone has a lot on their plates, but many people go above and beyond to fight this dreadful disease. After the success of the first event, it became clear that we wanted to grow the event.

Ahi Poke on Won Ton Chips

I had a eureka moment. Hawaii runs one of the greatest college basketball events in the country with the Diamond Head Classic. There are seven new coaches every year. It’s a great time, with great food, and a chance for the public to meet and interact with these well-known coaches.We have successfully held this event every year at Kani Ka Pila Grille, and the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic and supporters have raised more than $55,000 for the Clarence T.C. Ching Hope Lodge since 2017.

Assorted desserts

AL: What are some of the dishes that we can look forward to?

EG: Chef Dean will be preparing an all-you-can-eat type of “buffet” with stations offering: Ahi & Avocado Poke made with ogo, green onions, avocado, Maui onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, Sriracha and mayo drizzle, served with taro chips. The Slow-braised Short Rib Sliders are so good, it’s a generous piece of Hawaii-grown beef, Asian-style pickled vegetables and crispy onions served on a brioche roll. The Huli Huli Chicken Wings are tossed in this delicious orange mango barbecue sauce. He even prepared something for our vegetarians,Vegetable Pesto Penne with grilled vegetables and roasted peppers. There are also tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole, and chef’s assortment of mini desserts like guava cake, coconut cake, tiramisu and double-chocolate brownie bars.

AL: What are your favorite places to eat?

EG: I love food, I didn’t realize how much of a food mecca Hawaii is and I have become a foodie. From MW Restaurant to Kani Ka Pila Grille and local plate lunch spots, I love it all. Nothing brings people together like food.

We always like to try new places. Many of my players are far from home and our basketball season is during the holidays, so sharing a meal with them is very important — and they eat a lot! You should see how much food we can put down, and this makes the restaurants happy to see us, too.

AL: Anything else you want to share?

EG: I am thankful to our sponsors and to the seven coaches preparing their teams for a really competitive tournament. For them to step away and to share their time to help fight and crush this dreadful disease, and be engaged with our local community, we are thankful. Only in Hawaii would we be able to offer a fundraiser with accessibility to the coaches in conjunction with the tournament. This event is truly a great time; I met some of my closest friends at this event, and you hear and share tremendous stories. It’s awesome to see how much it’s grown, but it would be even more awesome to see where this can grow to.

We will be bringing back Call the Coach, with a Coaches vs. Cancer radio show, so fans unable to attend can listen in.

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