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Mango stars during ‘Mangoes at the Moana’

The Moana Surfrider was bustling last Saturday as the resort kicked off a monthlong festival celebrating the epitome of summer isle fruits — the mango.

Moana’s mango recipe contest invited home cooks to share their unique and delicious dishes with a cheery panel of judges, including myself, Honolulu Star-Advertiser restaurant critic Nadine Kam; Hawaii News Now “Sunrise” anchors Grace Lee and Steve Uyehara; KHON2 “Wake Up 2day” reporter Manolo Morales; Inside Out Magazine managing editor Simplicio Pragas; Melanie Kosaka, co-founder of the foodie website Share Your Table; and Hawaiian Grown TV host and chef Grant Kawasaki.

Host of the event was food writer Wanda Adams, who also contributes monthly to the Star-Advertiser’s food section.

Contestants entered recipes in one of four categories: Bread, Pie, Cake or Mixed Plate. The dishes ranged from inventive to classic, and top winners reflected that range.

Roxanne Yadao, for instance, took first place for a heavenly mango bread, while Kent Thompson won the mixed plate honor with a creative Mango-Sticky Bamboo Rice Truffle that was as pleasing to the eye as it was to the palate.

Thompson concocted two sauces to dress his coconut-crusted rice truffles, presented on halved bamboo stalks — a creamy mango sauce and a refreshing yogurt/curry one, creating diverse flavor experiences in one small package. In fact, his dish was so good that it took the grand prize for the entire contest.

Other winners were Tom Sheeran for a decadent Macadamia-Lilikoi Mango Tart, in the pie category, and Sharon Bryant for a sweet, luscious mango chiffon cake.

In addition, the festival featured a local farmers demo/tasting and a best mango contest with celebrity chef Alan Wong among the judges; culinary demos with chefs Rodney Uyehara, Bryan Ashlock and Hector Wong, and Adams (she was a busy lady); mango seminars on everything from growing trees to health and wellness; and even a mango body scrub recipe contest.

There’s more to come — all month long, special mango dishes will be offered at the Moana for breakfast, tea and dinner, as well as mango-inspired bar drinks. And on Aug. 27, “Tree to Table: A Mango Throw Down” will raise funds for the Culinary Institute of the Pacific.

Top Hawaii chefs, including Ryan Loo (Twist at Hanohano), Jon Matsubara (Azure Restaurant), Ralf Bauer (Sheraton Princess Kaiulani), Brett Villarmia (Hilton Hawaiian Village), Hiroshi Fukui (Hiroshi’s Eurasian Tapas), D.K. Kodama (D.K. steakhouse), Colin Nishida (Side Street Inn), Colin Hazama (Jean-Georges’ Kauai Grill), Rodney Uyehara (Beachhouse at the Moana), Donato Loperfido (Sapori Enotecca Birreria), Russell Siu (3660 on the Rise), Hardy Kirschner (Michel’s), Wayne Hirabayashi (Kahala Hotel & Resort), Chai Chaowasaree (Chai’s Island Bistro), Alan Wong and Lance Kosaka (Alan Wong’s Pineapple Room) and Roy Yamaguchi and Jason Peel (Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine) will come together in the spirit of friendly competition.

Tickets are $75 in advance, $85 at the door; call 923-2861.

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