James Beard Foundation Celebrity Tour on Maui

We were incredibly honored to host and enjoy the company of some of the most talented culinary minds in the World!  On February 4th, great chefs, master mixologists, and other enthusiasts joined us at the Maui Tropical Plantation for a tour of Kumu Farms and a delicious meal by The Mill House Restaurant.

It's hard to know what to expect when meeting high-profile artists like these, and we were blown away by their gracious, friendly, and down to Earth demeanors.  Not only are they talented and some of the hardest working people in the industry, they're REALLY GOOD PEOPLE.  What a pleasure to serve them and get to know them.

James Beard Celebrity Chef's Tour at the Mill House
James Beard Celebrity Chef's Tour at the Mill House

PARTICIPANTS

Hubert Keller - James Beard Award Winner - Fleur, Las Vegas and Burger Bar, Las Vegas, San Francisco & Beijing

Originally from France, Hubert Keller has trained in various restaurants in Brazil and France before opening his restaurants in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and St. Louis. Chef Keller is famous for his gourmet Burger Bar serving his $60 Rossini Burgers which consist of mouthwatering Wagyu Kobe beef, sautéed foie gras and shaved truffle, served on an onion bun. His modern French cuisine with a blend of Mediterranean style has won him the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in California, and Food and Wine has named him one of Top Ten Best Chefs in America. Chef Keller previously cooked healthy meals for President Clinton and the White House staff and has appeared in numerous TV shows.

Jonathan Waxman - James Beard Award Winner - Barbuda & Jams, NYC, Adele’s & Bajo Sexto, Nashville and Brezza Cucina, Atlanta

Chef Jonathan Waxman is a chef-owner to prestigious restaurants Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Michael’s in Los Angeles, Jam’s in New York, Barbuto’s in New York City, Brezza Cucina in Atlanta, and Adele’s in Nashville. Chef Waxman participated in Top Chef Masters in 2010 and was nicknamed “Obi Wan Kenobi."

maui mill james beard top chef
maui mill james beard top chef
maui mill james beard top chef 3
maui mill james beard top chef 3

Kirsten Kish - 36 Hours Co-Host & Top Chef Winner, Boston

Chef Kirsten Kish studied culinary arts and became an instructor at a culinary demonstration kitchen in Boston. She has worked in many high-end restaurants such as Barbara Lynch’s Stir as their Chef de Cuisine. Chef Kish was the second female to ever win the Top Chef show in 2012. In 2015, she co-hosted a TV show on Travel Channel called 36 Hours.

Michael Voltaggio - Ink and Ink.sack, LA and Top Chef Winner

Chef Michael Voltaggio’s trainings consist of European fine dining, but his style is mainly a sophisticated American cuisine. He did not take the normal route of attending culinary school, but did a longterm culinary apprentice program with prestigious The Greenbrier. Chef Voltaggio also appeared and won on Top Chef show in 2010. 

Manny Hinojosa - Master Mixologist

With over 25 years of bartending experience, Manny Hinojosa defines a mixologist as someone playing with fresh ingredients to create new recipes, while a bartender follows recipes. Hinojosa always searches for fresh herbs, spices, and fruits to incorporate into his classy drinks. Hinojosa finished first out of 400 mixologists in the nation’s largest mixology competition, Shake It Up.

maui mill james beard top chef 4
maui mill james beard top chef 4

Ryan Urig - Grand Wailea

Chef Ryan Urig is the current Executive Chef of Grand Wailea Resort, and the host of the James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour. His previous experience at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel over 13 years has given him a variety of experience as Executive Sous Chef, Chef de Cuisine, and Banquet Chef. Chef Urig was behind the scenes, cooking it up for Maui Film Festival’s Taste of Summer Opening Event with a grand selection of Hawaiian fresh seafood such as Hawaiian tako Carpaccio, Hamachi tartare and a poke bar.

maui mill james beard top chef 6
maui mill james beard top chef 6

Christian Brassfield - Grand Wailea

Chef Christian Brassfield is the current Pasty Chef at the Grand Wailea Resort. He has been leading the pastry department in the Ritz-Carlton previously, developing menu items and mentoring the pastry team. Brassfield’s inspiration for baking started out helping his grandma when he was younger making Filipino sweets, cookies, and pies. He still uses his traditional family baking techniques and combines with local fresh ingredients to make impressionable desserts.

Michael Lofaro - Grand Wailea

Chef Michael Lofaro lives a remarkable lifestyle as a waterman. He is currently the chef de cuisine of Grand Waliea’s Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (Humu) on Maui. He surfs, paddles on an outrigger canoe with a fishing pole, stand up paddles, and spearfishes most often catching fish, squid, octopus, or lobster which he brings to the restaurant kitchen or his home. He truly embraces his connection with the ocean and from his inspiration creates the most elegant seafood dishes.

maui mill james beard Mark Nigbur
maui mill james beard Mark Nigbur

Mark Nigbur- Master Mixologist at Pau Vodka

Mark’s unique distilling techniques began 15 years ago in Colorado. Hali’imaile Distilling Company moved his family to Maui, hiring Mark as their master distiller. Mark walks through the pineapple field, carefully hand-picking pineapples at their optimal ripeness, distilling in the manner where the vodka does not taste of pineapple but has a slight touch of sweetness. One of Hali’imaile Distilling Company’s products, Pau Vodka, is supervised by Mark through each step of the distilling process with a careful eye. Production is limited to less than 1000 bottles a month.

Manu Vinciguerra of Kumu Farms

Manu is the director of marketing of Kumu Farms, located on Maui Tropical Plantation of Waikapu, as well as on the island of Molokai. Since 1982, Kumu Farms specializes in growing organic Non-GMO papaya, fresh herbs, salad mix, and their locally famous macadamia nut pesto sauce. They continue to organically farm produce to deliver to the finest restaurants such as The Mill House Restaurant of Maui Tropical Plantation.

maui mill james beard Francesco Greco
maui mill james beard Francesco Greco

Francesco Greco - GM of The Mill House

Francesco is the general manager of the Maui Tropical Plantation and oversees all operations.  Formerly manager of Toscana in Brentwood California, he moved to Maui in order to open the wildly successful Migrant Restaurant.  Francesco is one of the nicest and hardest working people we've ever known.

Taylor Pante & Tak Toride - Mill House Chefs responsible for all food that night.

With Executive Chef Jeff Scheer in Portland for Chef's Week PDX, he left the restaurant in the more than capable hands of Taylor and Tak.  Former Maui Culinary Academy students, both Taylor and Tak were handpicked by Jeff to help him open and run this fantastic restaurant.  Taylor has been with Jeff since well before he made the transition to the Mill House and is one of the most promising young chefs in the State.

Jeff Scheer - Executive Chef for The Mill House Restaurant

Unfortunately, our executive chef was cooking with other Top Chef finalists and winners in Portland for the Chef's Week PDX events.  Jeff was very disappointed to be unable to attend, but his trip to Portland was an incredible experience.

Chef Jeff Scheer is known on Maui for his farm to table culinary creativity, having created the Maui Chef’s Table, where guests enjoy an intimate evening and have an opportunity to interact with the chef. Chef Scheer leads his culinary team at The Mill House Restaurant on Maui Tropical Plantation, always experimenting with fresh and local ingredients and delivers unique and elegant edible art.

It was an honor hosting these talented chefs at The Mill House for a tour of the farm and casual dinner under the stars.  We look forward to seeing them again next year along with new faces!

All photography was either taken by Mill House staff, from owners that have given us written permission, and/or purchased for use. We have all the rights necessary to use these images on our website.

Which chefs would you like to see on the next celebrity Chef's tour? comment below!
Which chefs would you like to see on the next celebrity Chef's tour? comment below!