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HONOLULU (August 29, 2011) – Hawai’i’s premier chefs and other celebrities are set to cook up a storm at Hawai’i’s second annual Rice Festival being held Sunday, September 11 at Magic Island in Ala Moana Beach Park from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Chefs will compete in the festival’s “rice-ipe” cooking contest or be paired with local celebrities for cooking demonstrations.

Presented by HPELive, the day will feature everything rice, from eating it to cooking it to learning about its rich heritage. At 12:30 p.m. chef Hideaki “Santa” Miyoshi of Tokkuri-Tei, Executive Chef Harold Beltran of BluWater Grill, Executive Chef Wayne Hirabayashi of Kahala Hotel & Resort, Executive Chef Hector Morales of Turtle Bay Resort and Chef Kent Thompson, formerly of Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab, will go head-to-head in a competition to see who can make the best rice dish. Special guest judges include food writers John Heckathorn  (HONOLULU Magazine), Nadine Kam (Honolulu Star Advertiser), and bloggers Melissa Chang and Mari Taketa (Nonstop Honolulu).

Celebrity chef and cooking demonstrations will take place throughout the day. The first is set for at 11:00 a.m. with Chef Kent Thompson and Hawaii News Now reporter Minna Sugimoto. Chef George Mavrothalassitis of Chef Mavro’s restaurant has been paired with freelance writer and blogger Catherine Toth for a 2:00 p.m. demonstration, and Sea House Restaurant Executive Chef Craig Erickson will work the skillet with KHON 2’s Justin Cruz.

September is officially designated National Rice Month by the USA Rice Federation, so come celebrate a day full of family-fun activities, including musical entertainment from Bruce Shimabukuru, taiko drum performances by Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Hawai’i, and Jody Kamisato and Uke’s Rising Stars. Guests are also invited to enjoy the Keiki Zone hosted by members of the 62nd Narcissus Festival Court, our second annual Spam® Musubi eating contest and the first-of-its-kind competition to set the Guinness World Record™ for the largest Spam® Musubi.

HPELive is also partnering with 29 participating credit unions statewide, the Hawai’i Foodbank and Lanakila Meals on Wheels to help the needy by setting up an official donation site at the Rice Fest. The Hawai’i Foodbank and 29 participating credit unions are asking everyone to “Have a Rice Day!” From Friday, September 9 through, Thursday, November 10, at participating credit unions on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawai’i, anyone can help feed the hungry in Hawai’i by donating a 20-pound bag of rice or a monetary gift of $12. The Hawai’i Foodbank and Lanakila Meals on Wheels program, which feeds needy seniors, will also be accepting donations of rice at this year’s Rice Fest; healthy brown rice for Lanakila Meals on Wheels  and brown or white rice for the Hawai’i Foodbank.

There will also be a rice education booth manned by University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Department of Human Nutrition, Food, and Animal Science educator Dr. Maria Stewart. She and her staff will have interactive quizzes for adults and kids, a sampling of various rice and nutritional information about rice.

Attendees will also get the chance to meet Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi, the author of The Hawai’i Book of Rice: Tales, Trivia and 101 Great Recipes. The Festival’s cook-offs and demonstrations will feature professional and amateur chefs preparing the recipes they contributed to the book. The Hawai’i Book of Rice celebrates rice and the many ways that it touches our lives in Hawai’i. “For me, the smell of steaming rice is a panacea,” says Tsutsumi.  “No matter how bad a day I might have had, when I’m home and I inhale that familiar comforting scent, the sadness, worry or disappointment I’m feeling dissipates. One whiff reminds me I’m in a safe place. I’m loved. Life is again in balance.”

Tsutsumi is an award-winning travel journalist who has covered Hawai’i, Asia and the South Pacific for numerous local and Mainland publications. She has authored 12 books about Hawai’i; The Hawai´i Book of Rice is her third title for Watermark Publishing. The Hawai´i Book of Rice will be available for purchase at the Festival; a portion of the proceeds from all copies of the book sold benefits the Hawai’i Food Bank, and a portion of the book sales at the Festival will go to Lanakila Meals on Wheels.

Participating vendors include Snow Factory, Island Fruits, Kat’s Sushi, Hawaiian Style Chili Co., Taste & See Delights, Sam’s Kitchen, Ono Pops, Raised on Rice, Project Grad, Lei Crystal Tattoos, Douglas Odani da Balloon Twister and more.


Chef George Mavrothalassitis – Chef Mavro
George Mavrothalassitis, chef/proprietor of Chef Mavro restaurant is a founding member of Hawai´i Regional Cuisine (HRC) and a James Beard award winner. Born in the sunny Mediterranean city of Marseilles in Provence, Mavro has set deep roots in Hawai´i over the last 23 years embracing the people and taking inspiration from their diverse culinary traditions. He has consistently partnered with local farmers and fishermen to offer menus dedicated to regional products from baby greens and tomatoes to vanilla and lavender. Chef Mavro is the only independently owned restaurant in Hawai’i to earn the American Automobile Association (AAA) Five Diamond status (2009, 2010 and 2011), as well as the only Hawai´i restaurant with Three Toques (an 18/20 rating) and on the 2011 Gayot “Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S.” Mavro won “Chef’s Choice” based on a vote of his peers in the most recent Hale `Aina Awards.

Executive Chef Craig Erickson – Sea House Restaurant
Born and raised just outside of Chicago, Craig Erickson, at the age of 13, worked at a local Italian restaurant that his brother helped to manage, and by 16, worked his way up to lead line cook. Looking to expand his experiences, he moved to Newport Beach and took a position as a Cook III at the Marriott at Fashion Island, while earning his CWC (Certified Working Chef). After two years in California, he moved back to Chicago where he took a job as Chef de Cuisine at Chicago Stadium while earning the next level of accreditation – CEC (Certified Executive Chef). After an eight-year stint in Las Vegas, he moved to Maui and became the Executive Chef at Napili Kai Beach Resort’s Sea House Restaurant. Since then, the Sea House has been recognized with three Ai’ Pono awards from Maui No Ka Oi magazine: Best Waterfront Dining, Best Kept Secret and Best Breakfast, and has also been recognized for Best Pupus from the Maui Time Weekly and Best Appetizer at the Taste of Lahaina.

Chef & Manager Hideaki “Santa” Miyoshi – Tokkuri-Tei
“Santa” Miyoshi was born in the small town of Kagawa, Japan, which is well known for its “Sanuki udon.” His first job was as a $5-per-hour dishwasher at a popular Japanese Kappo Ryori restaurant. When a new branch opened in Hawai’i, Miyoshi was appointed manager. He eventually left and became the sashimi cutter at Kengo’s where he cut 200 pounds of sashimi a day. After a year of 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. shifts, he quit and started a lunch wagon called “Munch Wagon” with his friend Kaz (Kazu “Kaz” Mitake). In 1989, Kaz found an investor, which helped them open the first Tokkuri-Tei restaurant on Sheridan Street. Miyoshi has won numerous cooking contests, including the Aloha Shoyu and Sam Choy’s Poke contests. Tokkuri-Tei, now located on Kapahulu, just celebrated its 21st anniversary. Miyoshi is the 2010 “Rice-ipe” Cooking Competition defending champion.

Executive Chef Harold Beltran – BluWater Grill
A driving force behind BluWater Grill’s success, Executive Chef Harold Beltran has guided his team toward perfection since opening day back in March 2004. Since then, BluWater Grill has enjoyed rave reviews from local and national critics alike. BluWater Grill has been recognized with the Hale `Aina Award for “Best New Restaurant” and the `Ilima Award for “Critics Choice Best Restaurant,” “Hot Spots to Dine in Honolulu” by “Gourmet Magazine” and as one of the “Hottest Places to Dine” in “Currents Magazine.” Award winning Chef Beltran made a name for himself working at Ryan’s Grill, guiding this well-known eatery to local and national industry recognition, garnering awards ranging from Best Bar to Top Tables.

Executive Chef Wayne Hirabayashi – Kahala Hotel & Resort
Executive Chef Wayne Hirabayashi trained at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. The recipient of a Hotel & Restaurant Union Scholarship, Hirabayashi’s professional experience includes stints at the finest properties in the Pacific Rim including the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, The Ritz-Carlton hotels at Mauna Lani and Laguna Niguel and the Halekulani on Waikiki Beach. Prior to being named executive chef at the Kahala Hotel & Resort, Hirabayashi was the executive sous chef at Hoku’s and was instrumental in defining Hoku’s’ award-winning culinary experience. Under Hirabayashi’s guidance, Hoku’s received “Honolulu Magazine’s” 2011 Hale `Aina Chefs’ Choice Award and has been named Best Hotel Restaurant in previous years. Hirabayashi aims to keep The Kahala at the crest of emerging food trends. For the past ten years he has expertly directed the Kahala’s culinary operations, including its five restaurants, banquet services and room service.

Executive Chef Hector Morales -Turtle Bay Resort
Hector Morales began cooking at an Italian restaurant in New Jersey at the age of 14 and was later accepted into the coveted Johnson & Wales University Culinary Arts program. He served as Senior Sous chef at the Sydney Regent, Australia’s premier Five Diamond Resort and in 1985, he transferred to Europe where he continued his culinary education under the direction of Master Swiss, German and Norwegian chefs. He moved to Oslo, Norway and served as the Banquet Sous Chef at S.A.S. Hotels Scandinavia as well as Banquet Sous Chef at the Sheraton Hotel. Prior to joining Turtle Bay Resort as the Executive Chef, he was Chef de Cuisine at the Stouffer Wailea Beach Resort on Maui, and also served as Executive Chef on the SS Independence and SS Constitution, as well as the American Hawai’i Cruises.

Chef Kent Thompson
Kent Thompson likes to describe himself as “old school” just trying to keep up with the new class. Years before the Food Network, he used to watch Julia Child and his favorite, Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. Besides his father, they were his early idols that inspired him to become a foodie. For the past 20 years or so, he worked in half a dozen places. He got his start at The Great Wok of China where he learned the fundamentals of being a “Wok Master.” Since then he has worked as a fry cook, fast food line cook and the latest as a saucier at Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab. He has won several recipe contests and is known for thinking outside of the norm, often politely called unique. He’s a stay-at-home dad now, but still loves entering competitions, and will always be a foodie at heart.

Don’t forget your chopsticks and come celebrate a piece of Hawai’i at the Second Annual Rice Fest Sunday, September 11, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park.  The entire day’s schedule for the event is available online at www.ricefest.com. You can also follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/ricefest, or Facebook at www.facebook.com/ricefesthawaii.