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Culinary market reveals 'real' Kauai

By Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi


Imagine a friendly neighborhood farmer's market. Combine it with a pau hana party complete with live music, appetizers and a wine and beer garden, and you have the Kauai Culinary Market, which has become a popular gathering place for friends, families and foodies since it opened six months ago.

The two-hour event is held every Wednesday afternoon at Kukuiula Village, a retail shopping center adjacent to the 1,010-acre master-planned Kukuiula community that is being constructed in Poipu.

"At the market, visitors are able to interact one-on-one with 20 Kauai growers and vendors," said Veronica Lovesy, Kukuiula's senior marketing manager. "It allows them to meet the people who grew and packaged the food they're buying. They also can rub shoulders with kamaaina. It's a great way to experience the 'real' Kauai."

Lovesy developed a similar event in the mid-1990s, when she was the vice president of marketing for Westcor, the largest owner, manager and developer of commercial retail properties in Arizona. Held at the Borgata of Scottsdale shopping center, the Borgata Farmer's Market won several awards for marketing excellence from the International Council of Shopping Centers.


Check out local goods and learn about Kauai's agricultural history:

» Where: Kukui'ula Village, 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka, Poipu, Kauai

» When: Every Wednesday

» Time: 4 to 6 p.m.

» Phone: 808-652-5092

» E-mail:

» Website:

» Notes: A half-hour chef's demonstration begins at 5 p.m. Among the products sold at the market are coffee, tea, jam, honey, goat cheese, bananas, papayas, pineapple, microgreens, baked goods, lei, floral arrangements and spices made with Hawaiian salt.



Look for the Kauai Grown seal when you're shopping. It calls attention to a program launched by the County of Kauai and the Kauai County Farm Bureau in September to promote locally grown agricultural products. Participants include Kauai farmers, ranchers, manufacturers of products that contain more than 50 percent Kauai-grown ingredients, and retailers, restaurants and chefs who bring those products to consumers.

Kauai Grown ( builds on the successful Kauai Made program introduced by the county in 2005. Its goals are to clearly identify local agricultural products; develop consumer awareness of the benefits of buying them; provide tools and materials such as seals, banners, and online and printed directories to assist businesses' marketing efforts; and strengthen relationships between farmers, retailers, restaurants and consumers.

A joint Kauai Grown and Kauai Made holiday fair will be held at Kauai Community College from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Call 808-337-9944 for more information.


"I took that successful concept and revised it to fit Kauai's casual lifestyle," Lovesy said. "During the planning stages, I approached the Kauai County Farm Bureau; with all of its resources, it was a natural partner for us. At the time, the farm bureau was starting its own farmer's market on Saturdays at Kauai Community College. Our market offered another very different venue for their members to sell their products. It was a great opportunity for everyone involved."

Kauai Culinary Market also won the support of Kukuiula Village's three anchor restaurants, whose chef-owners champion the farm-to-table concept. Jim Moffat of Living Foods Market & Cafe and Peter Merriman of Merriman's Kauai and Merriman's Downstairs Cafe are among the chefs who have presented cooking demonstrations at the Market. Lovesy hopes Jean-Marie Josselin of Josselin's Tapas Bar & Grill will make appearances next year.

"Education is a big part of our vision for the Market," Lovesy said.

"We live on an island where 90 percent of our food is imported. It's easy to see how devastating it would be if we were hit by a natural disaster; many people remember the aftermath of Hurricane Iwa and Hurricane Iniki. That drives home the idea that we need to work together to make Kauai more sustainable. It's a community-wide effort. I believe if I'm not a farmer, I need to support the farmers by buying their products."

One of the goals of the Kauai Culinary Market is to familiarize consumers with Kauai-grown food. Once they realize the diversity and quality of what's available, Lovesy would be happy to see them "buy local"

She enjoys shopping at farmer's markets herself, discovering fruits and vegetables that are in season and trying new ways to prepare them. "The food farmer's markets is always so fresh and flavorful, and I learn something new every time I make a purchase," she said. "For example, I recently tried sunflower sprouts for the first time, and they have become my favorite sprouts for salads."

A native of Tucson, Ariz., Lovesy moved to Kauai in 2005 with her husband and two daughters, ages 11 and 13, "to live a simpler lifestyle. Kauai is a wonderful cross between Mayberry and Gilligan's Island — a beautiful, safe, laid-back place to raise a family. We love living on an island where traditional values are honored; slippers are part of everyday attire; and delicious, healthy food can be bought in our neighborhood, directly from the hard-working people who grew it."

Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based freelance writer whose travel features for the Star-Advertiser have won multiple Society of American Travel Writers awards.


Goings-on at Kukui'ula Village:

» Holiday Movie Night: Kukui'ula Village will host a free Holiday Movie Night from 6 to 9 p.m. every Saturday through New Year's Day. Movies will be screened at the Palm Court, near Merriman's Downstairs Cafe. The shopping center will provide 100 outdoor chairs and beach mats (if you prefer, you can bring your own low beach chairs).

Saturday "Elf"
Dec. 25 "Home Alone"
Jan. 1 "Serendipity"

Koloa Elementary School, Kalaheo Elementary School or the Hawaii Children's Theatre will sell snacks each night as a fundraiser. You can purchase dinner from Kukui'ula Village's restaurants and bring them to the movie. No personal food and beverages will be permitted in the theater area.

» Art Walk: Every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m., the Art Walk features artists' demonstrations, live music and wine pourings. Purchase a commemorative wine glass for $5 and sip samples in each participating gallery (proceeds will benefit Koloa Elementary School, Kalaheo Elementary School and the Hawaii Children's Theatre).

» Living Foods Market & Cafe will host a free wine tasting during the Art Walk. Featured on Thursday will be zinfandels from Dashe Cellars, Frog's Leap Winery, Storybook Mountain Vineyards and Quivira Vineyards and Winery.


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