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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

Ninth Island, Foodie Golf, Wine And Bees

It’s hard to miss Hawaii when you’re in Vegas. And I don’t mean it’s easy to forget the sunshine (and showers) because of the distractions of gaming tables and incredible restaurants; it’s hard to miss the Islands because our food is everywhere.

While a staggering 80-90 percent of visitors from the Islands still stay at a home-away-from home Boyd Group property, the Hawaii food influence is moving beyond Downtown and into neighborhoods where locals live and eat. With two Roy’s restaurants, L&L BBQ and a number of poke spots and sushi restaurants, Vegas cuisine is mirroring our own.

At top restaurants it’s easy to dine on fresh fish from Oahu’s waters. On a recent trip to Sin City to interview chefs and catch some basketball games, it was never more obvious that there’s a “Hawaii” influence on food. And some of the city’s most celebrated chefs are keenly aware of what’s going on in the Islands – more than a couple asked for invitations to our next big food event.

Local boy Devin Hashimoto is set to become executive chef of the newest restaurant at Wynn Resorts. Formerly of Alex at The Wynn, and then executive chef for the luxury resort, Hashimoto will soon get the chance to shine in his own Asian-inspired restaurant. Watch this space for news of the opening …

If it ever stops raining, there’s ample opportunity to play golf to support culinary education, or drink wine to support schools – two of the best attended fundraisers of the year are just around the corner. The Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation Golf Tournament is April 23 at Kapolei Golf Course. There’s a big time lineup of celebrity chefs who come out to both cook and golf. This year participating restaurants include Alan Wong’s, Roy’s, Sam Choy’s BLC, Chai’s, d.k/Sansei, Murphy’s and Jose’s, and sweet treats will be supplied by gourmet specialty cake-makers Cakeworks. Culinary students benefit through a series of culinary educational workshops put on throughout the year with funds raised from the tournament. To register to eat, play or just hang out with some of our coolest culinary stars, visit hawaiiculinaryfoundation.org or call 941-9088 …

Saturday, April 28, wine lovers congregate for what’s become one of Oahu’s signature, top-shelf wine events – The Grape Escape. A fundraiser for Saint Louis High School, Grape Escape offers rare and allocated wines throughout the entire evening. Silent auction items include the usual restaurant and hotel donations, but you’re just as likely to find fishing trips and rare bottles of wine on the list, too.

Don’t wait for tickets; the event sells out fast. This is a seriously fun evening for winos …

You can trust our island chefs to bring matters of conservation to light. The plight of our bee population has been well-documented, but it’s taken chefs like Alan Wong and Kevin Hanney (12th Ave. Grill, SALT) to put their names on a campaign to increase awareness. Wong founded “Adopt-a-Beehive” last year and has already been able to fund three beekeeping scholarships at University of Hawaii at Hilo to continue research into the bee crisis.

And at 12th Avenue Grill, Hanney and his team just completed a month of “bee awareness” dinners featuring honey-inspired dishes paired with locally brewed beers.

Proceeds from meals went to the UH-Hilo beekeeping program.

“More than 80 percent of our food supply is directly or indirectly associated with honeybee pollination,” says Wong. “This is a situation that needs our attention now.”

Happy eating!

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