3rd Annual 'Up in Smoke Challenge'

The 3rd Annual “Up in Smoke Challenge” is an all-out “bong-fest” produced and hosted by Cheech and Chong, where folks compete for who grows the best “buds”, who can smoke the most Pakalolo (weed) without passing out, and last but not least, who can eat the most doughnuts from “da’ munchies”.

Nah, just kidding. lol

This is the third year for this very successful event, which took place this past Father’s Day Sunday, June 19th, 2011 at Aloha Stadium’s makai-side auxiliary parking lot. Brought to you by the good folks at Fresh Catch, with owner and chef Reno Henriquez at the helm here, the talents of home and pro cooks from all over the state of Hawaii compete for the BEST SMOKED MEAT, while adding to the attraction is a car show, vendor booths, a HUGE “bouncie” for the keiki, live entertainment, and of course ONO KINE GRINDZ, particularly of the smoked variety.

It must be noted that, due to “Hawaiian Sunday time contraints”, I arrived towards the end of the “People’s Choice” tasting segment, which took place from 11:30am to 1pm, so some of the smoked meat samples were nearly wiped out, yet thankfully all the competitors’ booths still had something to sample. I also left before they announced the winners, so I don’t currently have the results, yet I’ll contact the organizers to get the scoops and retro-post it here later.

In the mean time, what I DO have is the list of this year’s “Up in Smoke” contestants and the categories they competed in. Here they are:

UP IN SMOKE 2011 Contestants
Booth #3) VRM Pit Crew – chicken, pork, beef, anything goes
Booth #4) Dee Dee’s – fish
Booth #5) Always Smok’n – chicken, pork, beef, anything goes
Booth #6) Moana – pork, fish, anything goes
Booth #7) Guava Smoked – pork
Booth #8) All Game – pork
Booth #9) B&A Smokers – pork
Booth#10) Koa Alii – beef, fish
Booth #11) Maui Wowie – pork, anything goes
Booth #12) Black Velvet – chicken, pork
Booth #13) Flamin 7’s – pork
Booth #14) Big Boyz – pork, fish, anything goes
Booth #15) Gemini – pork
Booth #16) Buck Wild – beef
Booth #18) BK Smokers – pork
Booth #19) Hard to Beat – pork
Booth #20) Kealoha – chicken, pork, fish
Booth #21) Transplanted – pork
Booth #22) All Stock Meats – pork

The general public are given a ballot slip with a list of all the contestants, along with a checkbox for each category of meat — chicken, pork, beef, fish and anything goes —  where you circle to vote either OKAY (1), GOOD (2) or BEST (3). Now if I were the organizer, the event would be using The Tasty Island 1-5 SPAM Musubi voting (rating) system. Ha ha!

What’s great about the “People’s Choice” segment, is that the general public gets to sample all the competitors’ wares for FREE, where many of whom are more than eager to practically SHOVE their smoked meat entries down your throat in an effort to win your approval and “People’s Choice” vote. I tell ‘ya, when I left the place, I was absolutely STUFFED from smoked meat samples!

It must be noted that since I arrived “Hawaiian time”, I was in a rush to get as many photos as possible in a narrow time frame. Therefore, for the most part, I was unable to make notes of whose dish was whose. So the following photo coverage is a walkthrough with no team identification or other specifics on many of the entries. Also note, I didn’t have my high end camera on me, but just a bare bones point ‘n shoot model that I wasn’t familiar with the proper exposure settings for the best shot. Yet at least, you get a generalized visual idea of what this event is all about.


“Q’d” Pork Spare Ribs

“Q’d” Pork Spare Ribs

Smoked Chicken Thighs (meticulously trimmed!)

VRM Pit Crew Chief and BBQ Master Chef “Crash” (www.HiBarbeque.com)

VRM Pit Crew has won numerous awards at BBQ competitions across the United States. Cool (well, actually smokin’ hot) trophy!

What was most impressive is that many contestants really went “all out” and brought their “A Game” to this competition, including having professional banners with their own custom team logo, along with matching team logo t-shirt uniforms for their entire crew!…

Team “Guava Smoked”

Team “Dee Dee’s” (she’s on the right with the pink visor)

Speaking of which, I LOVE smoked fish, whether it’s marlin, salmon or whatevahz. Bagel Locks? Hook. Me. Up. Here at Dee Dee’s booth, her daughter “Sassy” (shown in photo above on the left) had her own special Smoked Salmon that Dee Dee deemed “Sassy Smoked Salmon”…

Team “Dee Dee’s” – Sassy Smoked Salmon

Sassy Smoked Salmon being cut up for People’s Choice service

Smoked salmon from Team “Big Boyz”…

Team “Big Boyz Smoked Salmon

Team “Big Boyz” Smoked Halibut

Smoked fish?

Smoked Marlin

Smoked Marlin

Smoked Marlin

Smoked Marlin

Smoked Lomi Tako (smoked octopus with diced tomato)

Smoked Lomi Tako (smoked octopus with diced tomato)

Time to head back to shore and up the mountains with this “Anything Goes” entry, smoked venison (deer)…

Smoked Venison (deer)

Of all the entries at this year’s event, I find it somewhat ironic that probably my favorite dish in overall flavor and texture was this Smoked Sausage…

Smoked Sausage

Bacon-wrapped turkey legs in the smoker

Bacon-wrapped Smoked Turkey Drumsticks

Beef Brisket

Beef Brisket wrapped in lettuce

Beef Brisket wrapped up in lettuce. This one is being presented to the judges.

Beef brisket

Beef Brisket

Smoked Pork, presented on a Ti Leaf and a traditional Hawaiian Poi Pounder

My question is: WHEAH DA’ POI? Da’ bes’ way fo’ eat smoke meat is wit’ poi!!!

Smoked whole Pork shoulder, cut into cubes

Smoked Pork

Smoked Pork

Smoked Pork

Smoked Pork

Smoked Pork

Smoked Pork

Smoked Pork with Sauteed Onions

Smoked Pork

(left to right) Smoked Marlin, Smoked Lomi Tako and Smoked Pork

That’s pretty much the gist of the “People’s Choice” tasting segment of this event. I should have gone to the judges table and got photos of the entries in their most presentable form, but I got caught up “wala ‘au’ing” (talking story) with folks at each booth, I couldn’t make it.

At least I got a group photo of the judges…

2011 3rd Annual “Up in Smoke Challenge Judging panel

While I can’t name everyone, I do know standing in the center in black is Fresh Catch owner and chef Reno Henriquez, who is the event producer. Second from the left looks like it could be Russell Yamanoha of KHNL News’ “Cheap Eats” segment.

Another rather fascinating highlight of the event was the arrival of a team of local wild pig hunters, with 5 pigs that had just been hunted earlier the same day, with the heaviest weighing in at 105 lbs…

Oahu Wild Pig Hunting Crew winners

The OTHER main attraction at this event is the The ‘Nobody Cares’ Car show, which also had a “People’s Choice” voting slip, where you write down your favorite “ride” under HUNTER TRUCK, CLASSIC CAR, STREET ROOD, DRAGSTER, MOTORCYCLE, MUSCLE CAR and IMPORT categories.

There was also a few vendor booths, such as Fresh Catch, who was selling their new Signature sauces…

Other vendors also had t-shirts, car collector memorabia and a few other goodies.

Plus a giant “Bouncie” for the keiki…

I was asked by Reno’s mom last year if I’d like to judge last year’s competition, which I just didn’t have the time for and turned the offer down. Admittedly, I have to “humbly” say, I think MY smoked meat tastes better than any of the offerings here. lol Therefore I should seriously consider ENTERING the competition next year. I have a few “tricks” up my sleeve that I think will make mine stand out. He he.

Rounding it up, this year’s 3rd Annual “Up in Smoke Challenge” was lotsa’ fun, with plenty sights, sounds and, most importantly, ono kine smoked meat grindz! See you there next year!

For more information about this event, visit:

The Tasty Island related links:
First Annual Smoked Meat Competition a Big Hit
Big Island Style Smoked Pork
Big Island Eats: Roy’s Smoked Marlin and Smoked Ahi
Backyard Kiawe-smoked Pastrami
Kiawe-smoked Pastrami Ba-Le Banh Mi
Whole Foods Eats: Taro Delight Smoked Taro Dip
Kalua Pig roasted in a Barbecue Grill

P.S. Happy 4th of July everyone. Be safe and enjoy the fireworks!


Chef Ming Tsai Heats Up the Kitchen at Macy's Ala Moana

When I got word that Chef Ming Tsai was going to be in town to do a cooking Demo’ this past Tuesday at Macy’s Ala Moana, the very first thing I thought was, “I just HAVE to be there so I can hear a FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT from the man himself about his run to become the Food Network’s ‘Next Iron Chef’.

As you’re probably aware by now, Chef Tsai was eliminated from this season’s ‘Next Iron Chef’ in last weekend’s airing of the Las Vegas episode titled “Seduction” on the Food Network. He was eliminated, along with female Chef Celine Tio, where according to host and food science-meets-cooking show exraordinaire Alton Brown, Chef Tsai was “simply outcooked”.

Which of course you probably have your own opinion and/or theory on that verdict, as well as I do, and BELIEVE ME I do, as I’ve been a fan of Chef Tsai ever since his days when he had his own ‘East Meets West’ show on the Food Network way back when.

Well, sure enough, it didn’t take long into his demonstration that he started making little references and jabs here and there over his loss on ‘The Next Iron Chef’.

At the end of the demonstration, he opened up a brief Q & A session with the audience, where I was fortunate enough to be picked by Chef Ming, and I intently took the opportunity to ask him the question, “Do you care to do any more venting over The Next Iron Chef?”. Well, this hot topic was obviously still a thorn in his side that he so badly wanted to get out of his system and talk it out, and that he did! He took over 7 minutes and the remaining time he had left to answer my question, which you can watch for yourself in Part 8 of the  segmented video series I posted on YouTube and provided below.

Note, I recorded Chef Tsai’s entire demonstration this past Tuesday evening at Macy’s Ala Moana (over 1 hour’s worth… whew!) hand-held (no tripod) using a non-HD still camera in movie mode, so there’s some shakes here and there as I either repositioned myself and/or my arm began feeling fatigue and twitched. Yet for the most part I kept it pretty stable.


Chef Ming Tsai Cooking Demo’ at Macy’s Ala Moana – Part 1 of 8:

Chef Ming Tsai Cooking Demo’ at Macy’s Ala Moana – Part 2 of 8:

Chef Ming Tsai Cooking Demo’ at Macy’s Ala Moana – Part 3 of 8:

Chef Ming Tsai Cooking Demo’ at Macy’s Ala Moana – Part 4 of 8:

Chef Ming Tsai Cooking Demo’ at Macy’s Ala Moana – Part 5 of 8:

Chef Ming Tsai Cooking Demo’ at Macy’s Ala Moana – Part 6 of 8:

Chef Ming Tsai Cooking Demo’ at Macy’s Ala Moana – Part 7 of 8:

Chef Ming Tsai Cooking Demo’ at Macy’s Ala Moana – Part 8 of 8 (this is the segment where he answers my question regarding his run on the Food Network’s ‘Next Iron Chef’:

Hinode Rice Man

That’s me and what I’ll be dressed as in costume tonight for Halloween in Waikiki.

In case you haven’t noticed, on the bag of Hinode Rice — Hawaii’s favorite brand — there’s a mascot. They’ve changed his design recently where “Hinode Rice Man” looks a bit more caucasian now, and he no longer is holding a pair of chopsticks. But I like the former mascot design better, as it looks more “anime” like, and the chopsticks give him so much more character, therefore that’s what I modeled my costume design as.

It’s probably going to be a pain in the you-know-what carrying that faux bowl of rice (with Ume in the center) around (which is made of posterboard and packing popcorn foam), so if I get tired of carrying it, I’ll probably just give it away or toss it. The oversized (for “anime-like” exaggeration) chinaman style hat is also made of posterboard, cut into a huge circle, slit down the back and shaped into a cone, being stapled together in back. The “anime” style eyes are made of white posterboard glued onto a pair of sunglasses, where my visibility is actually as good as, well, wearing a pair of sunglasses.

I thought of doing this on a last-minute whim, yet I think the results came out pretty darned good! Especially considering how quick and cheap it was to make. And I haven’t seen anyone do “Hinode Rice Man” yet, except for one crude costume (what may have been provided by the Hinode Rice vendor) that made an appearance at a local supermarket with Lani Moo mascot. By I have to humbly say, I like my take on “Hinode Rice Man” better.

Anyways, if you plan on hitting Waikiki tonight for Halloween (even though it’s a Sunday night, it’s going to GO OFF as always), look out for Hinode Rice Man and say hello. That’s me! See ya’ there!

18th Annual Filipino Fiesta

Photo courtesy of FilCom.org

The 18th Annual Filipino Fiesta took place last Saturday, May 8th, 2010 at Kapiolani Park. Following is a pictorial walkthrough of the event. The booth preceding each photo set of food or other items are where they were located.


The next booth didn’t have a name, but were serving the following Thai dishes…

These folks were selling tray loads of satay sticks.

I didn’t know Hibachi San was part of Panda Express. Learn something new every day!Hibachi San in Ala Moana is pretty good!

This gentleman’s name is Hugo, who owns all the pieces on display in the Cordillera region booth…

In case you’re wondering, he’s half American-German, and half Filipino, and speaks both languages fluently. I should have brought a notepad with me, as he explained the use and meaning of each piece to me, but I can’t remember most of what he said. Next time I’ll be sure to write it all down!

Honolulu City Council Chairman and Mayoral candidate Dunovan Dela Cruz (in blue jeans and aloha shirt) gives Tinikling a try…

A “stitched” panoramic shot of Diamond Head, looking from Kapiolani Park that I took before heading back to the car…

Well, that’s all folks. As far as things I tried, I picked up a plate of Dinuguan and Sweet & Sour Pig’s Feet from Claire’s Lunch Place booth, which the Sweet & Sour Pig’s Feet were especially masarap-sarap (really delicious)! I also got some Chichuron and, yes, Balut! But we’ll save my Balut eating experience (because it is an experience) for another day. lol

Check out The Tasty Island coverage of last year’s 17th Annual Filipino Fiesta here.


Poi Battered Fish & Fried Green Tomatoes

The Hawaiian Chef – Poi Battered Fish with Local Tomatoes, Sea Asparagus, Mandarin Oranges and Hawaiian Chef Dressing. $7.50

This past weekend I paid yet another visit to KCC Farmers’ Market, on the hunt for more unusual and exotic eats that abound at this weekly grand event. This time going for bad and good at the same time. As in good, healthy ingredients, deep-fried for what I’m hoping will be “bad ass” onolicious texture and flavor. How’s that for an expletive adjective oximoron? lol

In my last write-up on KCC Farmers’ Market, I noted that at the next opportunity, I’d try The Hawaiian Chef’s Poi Battered Fish ‘n Chips…

The Hawaiian Chef – Hawaiian Scottish Poi Battered Fish & Chips. $6.50

Just fried stuff was a bit too heavy on an early Saturday morning, so I instead opted for the Poi Battered Fish with the Mandarin Orange Salad, as shown in the first photo.

With that, on my NEXT opportunity, I”ll be sure to try this delicous sounding Kabocha and Granny Apple Soup!…

The Hawaiian Chef – Hawaiian Vegetarian Kabocha and Apple Soup: with Kabocha, Granny Apples, Onion, Curry Powder, Mustard Seed, Fresh Ginger, Vegetarian Broth, Lime and Yogurt. $5

Damned, that sounds good.

Here we have Juanita “The Hawaiian Chef” on the side cookin’ it up…

Juanita Kawamoto “The Hawaiian Chef” of Fresh from the Farm

Juanita took time explaining to me her company’s mission, which I’ll simply copy and paste directly from their website:

“Our mission is to play a key role in the sustainability of regional farms and agriculture in the state of hawaii by providing island farmers an alternative source to direct market their produce to earn a fair return and gain the recognition and reward for their efforts and hard work.”

~ Fresh from the Farm

My impression by our very interesting conversation is that Juanita is highly educated and very akamai about native Hawaiian foods and culture. I asked her what exactly Poi Batter is and she gladly explained it as being simply thinned-down Poi (she makes her own, but you can use store-bought), with the addition of Mochiko Flour, Paprika and Garlic Powder. Here’s how the batter looks…

Essentially to the consistency of, well, what those new to poi say it tastes like… wallpaper paste! lol

So here’s my Poi Battered Fish and Salad…

The Hawaiian Chef – Poi Battered Fish with Local Tomatoes, Sea Asparagus, Mandarin Oranges and Hawaiian Chef Dressing. $7.50

Juanita said the fish she uses is both Ono and Shutome (swordfish), which sounds A-OK to me. Let’s sample it…

Still piping hot, the fish on this bite tastes like the Shutome, which was very moist, tender and flakey, while having that usual low-fat and mild flavor that Swordfish usually has when cooked this way.

The Poi Batter is the big question here. What’s the deal there? Well, it has a texture almost like it was made with cornmeal. It seems the poi (taro) turns into little particles as it gets cooked in the hot oil. That’s really it. It’s pretty good, and no doubt interesting, although I’d prefer if it had a little more glutenous and air body to it like a beer batter. Perhaps the addition of baking soda and/or more Mochiko flour would help.  I dunno, as I’m not a baker, but you get my drift.

The paprika and garlic didn’t shout out loud, but it did certainly taste “seasoned”.

As for the Salad with Hawaiian Chef’s dressing, that was fantastic and a welcoming fresh contrast to the light-yet-heavy deep-fried Shutome and Ono. The dressing tasted ike a simple sweet ‘n sour vinaigrette, which I’d actually probably prefer something more zesty with more “bite”, like say Cocktail sauce as the dressing, but as it is, this works fine.

Overall I’ll give The Hawaiian Chef’s Poi Battered Fish & Salad a poi-pounding 3 SPAM Musubi.

I also tried their Hibiscus Lemonade…

The Hawaiian Chef – Hibiscus Lemonade. $3

She said this is made from the “juices” of actual Hibiscus flowers that are wrung out. And you know what? It tastes just like drinking a flower pedal-laced Lemonade. You know how a rose pedal smells, right? Well, imagine drinking that, and that’s exactly what this tastes like, along with a sweet and mildly lemon-ee kick. Really, really ono. A refreshingly Saturday morning delicious 4 SPAM Musubi.

I’ll be back for that Kabocha & Apple Soup for sure! Mahalo Juanita!

Moving on to our next good-meets-bad delight, we have Two Hot Tomatoes Fried Green Tomatoes…

Here’s their menu…

Here we have their Combination Basket of Fried Zucchini and Fried Tomatoes…

Three orders of Fried Green Tomatoes ready to feed the masses at KCC Farmers’ Market…

And when I say masses, I mean it, as Two Hot Tomatoes booth ALWAYS has a long line of mostly Japanese Tourists. Fried Green Tomatoes are a novelty for me, and it surely must be for them.

In fact, having little to ZERO exposure to southern cuisine, this is indeed my first time trying Fried Green Tomatoes. This just isn’t something you don’t see much of,  if at all here in the islands. Well except for here at KCC Farmers’ Market!

Wanna’ make ’em yourself? Get some of Two Hot Tomatoes’ Batter Mix..

Notice they individually hand-paint each bag. I suppose that validates the $10 price tag.

Here’s my order…

Two Hot Tomatoes – Fried Green Tomatoes with wasabi lemon and basil lime sauce. $7

Notice it includes 2 dipping sauces: wasabi lemon and basil lime sauce. Both of which their flavors are very subtle, making taste predominantly like, well, mayo’. If anything, I could taste the wasabi the most, yet even that was subtle. I say “gas” da’ wasabi, baby!

Here you can see how the’re made from while slices of green (unripened) tomatoes that are cut about 3/8″ thick…

I didn’t ask the owner what’s in their “secret” batter, but I did read a recipe in a magazine I have which uses Polenta Cornmeal, with Buttermilk as the “binder”.  It’s then finished with a light sprinkle of Paprika and kosher salt. That’s the magazine’s recipe.

I do know this batter is very light, with a fine and gritty texture (cornmeal?) that goes nicely with the acidic and “meaty” green tomatoes inside. The green tomato itself being cooked slightly under al dente, so it had a semi-raw taste, which I actually prefer, as I wouldn’t want it cooked through. The way it was here was perfect.

Summing it up, I’ll give Two Hot Tomatoes’ Fried Green Tomatoes a thumbs-up 3 SPAM Musubi, with my only complaint being its price at $7 a tray, which is kinda steep for what it is.

The weekend earlier at KCC Farmers’ Market, Two Hot Tomatoes had actually SOLD OUT of Fried Green Tomatoes, which I’m not surprised by, given the long lines they get. So on that visit I tried their Fried Zucchini and Fried Sweet Island Onion Rings as a combo’ set…

Two Hot Tomatoes – Fried Zucchini and Sweet Island Onion Rings. $7

These come with the same Wasabi Lemon and Basil Lime sauce.

Let’s sample some cuz’…

Yeah, that’s the way to do it. Nice ‘n sloppy. lol No, but seriously, again, like the green tomatoes, the zucchini is only partially al dente or semi-cooked through, so it comes across as snappy and fresh-tasting. In fact, I like this equally as much as the green tomatoes. The green tomatoes’ main advantage is its higher acidity level, so you get that mild tartness to cut through the richer flavor of the golden-fried batter. Yet they’re both equally a satisfying snack.

3 SPAM Musubi for their Fried Zucchini.

Now let’s sample the Fried Sweet Island Onions…

Yeah, diggin’ this one too. Me and onion rings are best friends, and this is certainly a fantastic spin on the classic with its more gritty batter, which I’m assuming is cornmeal. The onions are indeed sweet and also not overcooked and limp, but still retaining some shape of its natural conical shape. Very, very nice. Not surprisingly, the two mayo’ based sauces complimented the onion rings the best.

Summing them up, I’ll give Two Hot Tomatoes’ Sweet Island Onion Rings a “Maui-licious” 3 SPAM Musubi.

I’ll sign off with more sights around the market on this most recent visit…

“Lemonade Man”…

Speaking of colorful flowers, here ya’ go…

The following are hybridized Hibiscus by Jill Coryell, the “Hibiscus Lady”. As you may know, Hibiscus is Hawaii’s state flower…

See you again this Saturday at the KCC Farmers’ Market!

"Triple D" Stops By Poke Stop Tonight!

Catch tonight’s episode of Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives with Host Guy Fieri on the Food Network, where the theme of the show will be “Homegrown and Homemade“.  One of the three eateries featured in this episode will be Chef Elmer Guzman’s Poke Stop in Mililani. Yay! The other two places will be The Farmer’s Shed in Lexington, South Carolina and Mulberry Cafe in Lackawanna, New York. The show will air tonight, May 3, 2010 on Oceanic’s regular cable (channel 60) Food Network station at 7pm Hawaii time and repeat at 10pm.

I asked Chef Elmer why Triple D chose the Mililani location to tape at, and he said because it’s much bigger than the Waipahu store (shown above). One of the “rules” for being on Triple D is that the establishment can only have one location, but apparently they’ve made exceptions for Poke Stop and Hank’s Haute Dogs, which both have two locations. Chef Elmer tells me that he has a Poke Stop location in Japan currently in the works as well.

As featured here previously, Chef Elmer made a bunch of special T-shirts in honor of the show, with each one featuring the dishes Guy ate. Once again here they are…

Chef Elmer Guzman…

Here, Chef Elmer shows a map he put up that will pinmark customers from abroad who were lead to Poke Stop via Triple D…

Once again, tonight, Monday, May 3rd on the Food Network, catch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ “Homegrown & Homemade” episode, featuring Poke Stop!

Visit the Food Network’s Triple D “Homemade & Homegrown” episode webpage here.

Check out past Tasty Island coverage of Poke Stop here and here.

HIFF Spring Showcase to Focus on Food & Drink Films

I just received word from Sarah Honda, the Development Director of the Hawaii International Film Festival that the 2010 HIFF Spring Showcase will begin this Friday, April 16th through April 22nd at Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 Theaters. What may be of particular interest to the readers of this blog is that this year’s Spring Showcase will be focusing on FOOD & DRINK FILMS!

Sounds ono’movie’licious to me! Is that a word? lol

Here are the feature films:

BLOOD INTO WINE will be showing on Thursday, April 22 @ 6pm at the Dole Cannery theaters.

HIFF Synopsis: Did you know that grapes will grow in Arizona? We didn’t either. If you watch BLOOD INTO WINE you can find out how musician Maynard James Keenan (TOOL, A Perfect Circle) and winemaker Eric Glomski are making wines in Verde Valley, north of Phoenix. This documentary also features Milla Jovovich, Fairuza Balk, Bob Odenkirk and Patton Oswalt.

Their co-founded label is AZ Stronghold, while Keenan has two other vineyards, Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards, all located in Arizona. The website for Caduceus is definitely worth a look, it features an excellent design. We can tell that they’re in it for the love of making wine, not just to make some money.

CAFE SEOUL will be showing on Saturday, April 17 @ 6:45pm and Monday April 19 @ 1:30pm at the Dole Cannery Theaters.

HIFF Synopsis: CAFE SEOUL is a Japanese/South Korean co-production, directed by Take Masaharu and starring Kim Dong-wook (COFFEE PRINCE), Kim Jung-hoon (GOONG), Choi Sung-min, and Saito Takumi (male lead in VAMPIRE GIRL VS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL). The film is about a small confectionary shop in Seoul called “Peony Hall”, run by the eldest of three brothers. The brothers have been living separate lives since their parents were killed in a car accident. When the shop is in danger due to the owner being harrassed by local gangsters, the brothers pull together and reconnect as a family.

If you liked ANTIQUE (Korean film based on a Japanese manga), then i’m sure you’ll like CAFE SEOUL as well. Something to take note of is that Korea is becoming a more attractive place for foreign film productions. Another Spring Showcase 2010 film, A BRAND NEW LIFE, was also shot in Korea last year. It deals with a young Korean girl sent to France for adoption.

THE CHEF OF THE SOUTH POLAR will be showing on Wednesday, Apr 21 @ 8:45pm and Thursday, April 22 @ 3:30pm at the Dole Cannery theaters.

HIFF Synopsis: The one film above all others this spring that will leave your stomach growling is THE CHEF OF SOUTH POLAR. It’s director Okita Shuichi’s commercial feature film debut, after his first feature THE WONDERFUL WORLD was shown on a non-commercial basis in 2006.

Adapted from an essay by author and chef Nishimura Jun, this light-hearted comedy is about eight men stationed at Dome Fuji Station at the South Pole. It focuses on Nishimura’s point of view, as he creates extravagant dishes for his team. From foie gras, lobster to Matsuzaka beef (Wagyū, similar to Kobe beef), the dishes are excellent, particularly considering the very inhospitable climate outside (average temperature -54C). If you liked the classic Japanese film TAMPOPO, give this a film a try. Since this film had a relatively small release in Japan and Korea, it will likely be hard to get ahold of on DVD, so this will be the only chance to watch in Hawaii for now.

TODAY’S SPECIAL will be showing on Thursday, April 22 @ 8:30pm at the Dole Cannery theaters.

HIFF Synopsis: If you like your food films with a little spice and a little love, don’t miss romantic comedy TODAY’S SPECIAL, by director David Kaplan. You may have seen Mr. Kaplan’s first feature film (YEAR OF THE FISH) when we showed it at HIFF 2007. TODAY’S SPECIAL is a romantic comedy set in a struggling Indian restaurant located in Queens, New York. It stars Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show), Madhur Jaffrey and famous Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah. This film recently opened the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.

Samir (Mandvi) is an aspiring sous chef who gets passed over for a promotion then resigns, going home to Jackson Heights, Queens to help his family with their restaurant “Tandoori Palace”. Samir’s mother is played by Madhur Jaffrey, who is famous in the world of Indian cuisine, similar to Julia Child’s relationship with French cuisine. Of course, the real star of this film is the mouthwatering Indian food. We can’t describe it enough with words, you’ll just have to see it on the big screen.

For more information, please visit the Hawaii International Film Festival website.

Other related links:
The Ramen Girl – The Tasty Island