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Staple and super food of the Pacific celebrated at third annual La ‘Ulu event

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  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2015

    The breadfruit has gained a reputation as a super food in recent years.

For some the word “breadfruit” might conjure the story of the infamous 1789 voyage of the HMS Bounty that ended in mutiny, said Tamara Sherill, executive director of Maui Nui Botanical Gardens in Kahului.

“But that’s only a tiny part of the history of a staple food enjoyed by people across Oceania,” she said.

The British expedition headed by Capt. William Bligh was tasked with collecting breadfruit saplings as a potential cheap and nutritious food for slaves on sugar plantations in the British West Indies. Historians say the mutiny was spurred, in part, by Bligh’s rationing of drinking water to keep the plants alive.

But the prickly, football-size fruit has long been familiar to Pacific islanders and in recent years gained a reputation as a super food. The starchy staple will be celebrated at the third annual La ‘Ulu, aka “Breadfruit Day,” festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens.

The free event features Hawaiian cultural activities, a native plant sale, entertainment by Uluwehi Guerrero and Halau Hula Kauluokaia and others, food booths and more. John Cadman of Maui Breadfruit Co. is the keynote speaker and will be selling his ono Pono Pies and vegetarian ulu curry.

Hana’s Kahanu Garden, recently featured on the NatGeo series “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted,” will be there selling the Maafala variety of ulu trees.

Cooking demonstrations will feature ulu risotto with lemon and parmesan by Grand Wailea exec sous-chef Mike Lofaro, ulu tamales by Mariposa Blanco of Kua o ka La Public Charter School, ulu tots by executive chef Isaac Bancaco of Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, and ulu takoyaki with black- sesame mayo by chef and Hawaiian cultural practitioner Robert Kealoha Domingo of Nui Kealoha.

“We are excited to offer cooking demonstrations featuring ulu because eating more indigenous, plant-based foods helps to foster an appreciation and acceptance of healthy foods,” said Kaimana Brummel of event sponsor Blue Zones Project.

For more information or to volunteer, call 249-2798 or visit

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