And the Winner Is . . .

Fourteen Maui restaurants vie for Best of Fest at the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival’s seafood finale.

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Story by Becky Speere

Seafood festival 2017
Christopher Klapp, Petrossian Caviar; Daniel Chun, Alaska Airlines; Chef Alvin Savella, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua; Diane Haynes Woodburn, Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi Magazine; and Master Sommelier Patrick Okubo, Young’s Market Company.

I didn’t know an octopus could fly until I saw the epic photo of Chef Alvin Savella with not one, but two, octopi in hand, doing aerials over his head. Savella, a bigger-than-life personality whose culinary confidence knows no bounds, led his team to victory at the 2017 Kapalua Wine and Food Festival, with — what else? Charred he‘e (Hawaiian for octopus) on squid-ink spaetzle tossed in an uni emulsion and garnished with chorizo. Sans Parmesan, a sprinkle of crunchy chicharron stood in to top off the dish.

Accolades for The Banyan Tree restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, have poured in since Savella secured the much-sought-after position of chef de cuisine a year ago. Savella’s flavor profiles run the gamut from eastern Mediterranean to Pacific Rim, influenced by his ten years at The Ritz-Carlton at Marina del Rey in California.

Judging were MNKO publisher Diane Haynes Woodburn; Alaska Airlines regional sales manager Daniel Chun; Christopher Klapp of Petrossian Caviar; and Patrick Okubo, master sommelier, certified wine educator and certified specialist of spirits for Young’s Market Hawaii.

“The entries this year were better than ever,” says Okubo. “Having judged in the past, I don’t remember giving so many five-out-of-fives for taste. The competition was won, by a close margin, on presentation and creativity. The octopus melted in, as it ‘broke da mouth.’ The use of sepia was unique and the house-made chicharron added a nice presentation with a contrasting crispy texture. I went back for seconds and paired it with the Rombauer Chardonnay, which matched the weight of the rich, buttery uni emulsion.”

Led by chef/mentor Lyndon Honda, UH–Maui College’s Culinary Arts Program took the silver and fan-favorite awards with their Asian-inspired day boat scallop shrimp with unagi sauce, bonito flakes, yuzu and Japanese mayo.

charred octopus

Charred Octopus Recipe

Charred He‘e (Octopus) with Squid-ink Spaetzle, Chorizo, Uni Emulsion and Chicharron

4 Servings | Prep Time: 90 minutes, plus 2 hours cooking/grill time for octopus

Charred He‘e

  • 1 octopus (raw)
  • 1 onion, large diced
  • 1 carrot, large diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, large diced
  • 1 celery stick, large diced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 1 ounce olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

METHOD: Place onion, carrot, fennel, celery, white wine and water in a large stockpot and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the octopus and simmer for 90 minutes. Remove octopus from the water and season legs with salt, pepper and olive oil. Finish octopus on grill about 4 minutes, giving it a nice char.

Squid-ink Spaetzle

  • 4 1/2 ounces flour
  • 2 ounces milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon squid ink (Purchase online or at Maui Prime Fine Foods, 142 Kupuohi St., Lahaina)
  • 1 gallon water

METHOD: Bring water to a boil. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, milk, eggs, and squid ink, and whisk until smooth. Push batter through a spaetzle press onto a floured board. Add spaetzle to boiling water and simmer for a minute, then strain.

Chorizo Uni Emulsion

  • 1 ounce olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 ounce shallots, minced
  • 4 ounces chorizo
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 2 ounces uni (sea urchin roe)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chicharron (for garnish)

METHOD: In a sauté pan, heat oil and sauté garlic and shallots until translucent. Add chorizo and render about 5 minutes. Drain fat and add spaetzle to the pan. Deglaze pan with white wine, reduce to au sec (nearly dry), and turn heat to low. Add butter and uni, then season with salt and pepper. Once butter is melted and emulsified, remove from heat and serve right away with charred he‘e. Garnish with chicharron.

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