Big Island Festival to spotlight big name chefs

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KOHALA COAST, Hawaii -- About 2,000 people will assemble here Nov. 3 to 7 to participate in the third annual Big Island Festival.

Culinary events, wine tastings, ancient Hawaiian cultural activities, spa and golf excursions on the islands Kohala Coast are the kinds of year-round activities that will be condensed into a single, weekend-long event.

A suitable fit for an event that revolves around fine foods and wine, the hottest ticket will be the tasting dinner on the final evening at the Mauna Kea Resort, where there will be demonstrations, wine pairings by top producers worldwide and cuisine prepared by all 10 of Food & Wines Best New Chefs of 2004.

In addition, each guest chef will host either a dinner event or a cooking demonstration. The Best Chefs include Graham Elliot Bowles of the Jackson House Inn, Woodstock, Vt.; Scott Conant of LImpero, New York; Scott Dolich of Park Kitchen in Portland, Ore.; and Mathias Wolf of Gautreaus, New Orleans.

This year, the Grand Tasting events are centered around the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel (where Kelsey Grammer recently treated his 100-member cast and crew to a Hawaii vacation), with the Mauna Lani, Mauna Kea and Kona Village properties also hosting activities.

Guests will have free time to explore the island. Sugar cane, corn, vanilla, mushroom, coffee, flower and even lobster farms are within driving distance of the festival site and are open to visitors.

The Rural Renaissance Experience is a full-day tour to the Waimea area and includes a visit to the Hamakua farm where many of the islands top chefs buy the organic greens and mushrooms they use in their dishes. The tour costs $98 per person.

New Waves at Nelha (Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority) reveals one of the worlds most unique marine farming techniques. It pumps deep, cold ocean water to the surface to cultivate fish that normally live in cooler waters, such as lobster and salmon. This tour costs $79 per person.

The Spirit of the Big Island golf tournament on the opening day will take place at the Mauna Kea Resort, while on Nov. 6, guests can take a half-day Gourmet Chocolate and Coffee Country tour to the Kealakekua Bay area for $79 per person.

Additional daytime activities include a full-day yoga retreat that brings participants to Hapuna Beach for a morning of snorkeling, preceded by meditation and a light lunch. Guests can then slip into the waters to view reef fish and marine life, including giant sea turtles.

Upon returning to the hotel, participants can opt for spa treatments that range from an in-room facial to a shiatsu massage or a body wrap at the spa. Prices begin at $100 per 50-minute treatment.

The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, sister property to the hosting Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, announced a special package and rate for the festival. Two people can enjoy four nights in a mountainview room, daily breakfast buffet and tickets to the Under the Hula Moon at Mauna Kea Resort finale on Nov. 6 for $1,400 plus tax. Beachfront rooms are available with the same package for $2,000; deluxe oceanview rooms are priced at $2,200.

For more information, agents can call (866) PRINCE-6 or visit the Web site at www.maunakeabeachhotel.com.

Individual events range in price from $40 to $125. A Best Bet Platinum Pass gets holders into all five evening events for $400, which include the opening evenings Upcountry Chefs Tour at the Hilton Waikoloa.

For more information, visit www.bigislandfestival.org. For assistance with hotels, visit www.bigisland.org. Agents can request festival brochures by calling (808) 934-9044.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].

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