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Celebrity Chefs Tour hits Big Isle in January

By Erika Engle

LAST UPDATED: 2:24 a.m. HST, Dec 3, 2010

The James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour will make its first Hawaii stop Jan. 21 and 22 at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows on the Big Island.

Michael Symon and Jonathan Waxman will be cooking with host Sandy Tuason, executive chef of the Mauna Lani, for a fundraising event likely to draw foodies from far and wide.

Symon, star of "Iron Chef America" and other Food Network shows, owns Lola and Lolita restaurants in Cleveland, while Waxman, a star of "Top Chef Masters" on Bravo, is chef-owner of Barbuto restaurant in Manhattan's West Village and is an alumnus of Berkeley's Chez Panisse restaurant.

"We've looked at doing it before," said publicist Jeff Black, who comes to Hawaii annually to work at the Sony Open golf tournament. "We've talked about doing it in conjunction with the Sony Open, but there's (already) so much going on."

Mauna Lani officials contacted Black earlier this year about putting a dinner together, "and I said, 'How does January look?'" It was kismet. "We got extremely lucky getting the two chefs we got. They're big names, with draw and star power."

A Saturday-only ticket is $250 and includes a multicourse dinner for which Symon, Waxman and Tuason will each prepare a couple of courses. "The cool thing is, they're going to work with local farmers on the island to get produce and products," said Black.

For an additional $50, guests can also attend a Friday night wine tasting with passed hors d'oeuvres at which "the chefs will mingle with the guests, kind of hang out." Black describes Symon and Waxman as "superapproachable."

For the hotel, a special package rate for attendees is in the final preparation stages, but the kamaaina rate starts at $230 per night plus tax, according to Bree Dallwitz, director of public relations.

The James Beard Foundation raises funds for culinary scholarships, publications, food and beverage industry awards and maintenance of the historic James Beard House in New York City as a venue for special events by visiting chefs.

Ramsay returns to 'Sunrise'

Former congressional candidate Ramsay Wharton will return to the "Sunrise" morning show Monday on Hawaii News Now, reprising her role as the 4:30 to 5 a.m. anchor and as a supporting reporter for the weekday broadcast.

The announcement, made to staff yesterday, was posted on Twitter by News Director Mark Platte and was to be shared on the air this morning.

Wharton "was part of the original Sunrise team when the show launched in 2007 and her return is a most welcome development," he said in the memo.

After the owners of KGMB-TV, KHNL-TV and KFVE-TV announced their plan to combine newsrooms in August 2008, dozens of employees lost their jobs, including Wharton. She said at the time she was "a casualty of our station merger."

Additionally, the recently married Mari-Ela David will anchor her last newscast Sunday. She is leaving the station and moving to the Big Island with husband Kyle Chock, Platte told "TheBuzz." Lisa Kubota will take David's weekend anchor spot and report a few days during the week.

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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at

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