Maui Onion Festival

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Maui, Hawaii

When I first heard of the Maui Onion Festival I thought it was kind of silly, really a festival for onions? But it turns out that this is actually an important festival as the Maui onion is one of the few vegetables that can be exported and apparently this variety of onion is very popular with international chefs.

My last weekend on Maui I was asked to judge this festival and has less trepidation as I had already judged the Maui agricultural festival but I had no idea the dishes here would be so complex.

There were two competitions one with young chefs and another as a masters’ series.

Maui Onion Festival



Hands down with the first competition the Maui Onion Tortellini en Brodo from Chef Wesley Holder of Pūlehu was a shining star with the onion broth enveloping the delicate tortellini.


maui onion

The masters-type competition was more difficult with so many amazing chefs interpreting the strength of the Maui onion. In the end I did agree with my fellow judges that Jojo Vasquez’s, from the The Banyan Tree at the Ritz-Carlton, take on liver and onions, a delicate mix of foie gras and the Maui onion was truly delicious – especially as I have stated many times how I dislike organs.

This is my last weekend in Maui and I think it may have ruined me because I have eaten far too many delicious dishes, oh how will I go back to my sriracha grill cheese sandwiches for dinner?

Want to know more about food on Maui? Check out my post on Hawaiian Food You Must Try.


Disclosure: I was a guest of the Maui Visitors Bureau, they did not request that I write a favourable review or want to discreetly lick the plate for some of the dishes, is that still uncouth?


Join the Conversation

  1. Chrystal McKay says:

    This looks delicious. I want to judge a food competition – but I’d be bad at it considering I don’t eat Red Meats….but the idea looks so fuN! Funny too – I only started eating onions about 2 years ago…I hate them before that. Now – I LOVE them.

  2. Now you made me hungry for foie gras ;p

  3. What a fun experience… I love maui onion though I have to say I’m intrigued the idea of a sriracha grilled cheese now too.

  4. When food is so beautifully plated (like the dishes you photographed above) I would have a hard time cutting into them. However, they look absolutely delicious! Being from the south, I have never seen a refined festival that revolves around food. This one looks so classy!

  5. Leah Travels says:

    You got to judge? That’s too cool. Everything looks so simple and clean. I think that if a dish looks good then it’s likely to taste good. Judging by these pictures, it was all delicious. What a task you had.

  6. Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    When you talked about the onion festival, I thought you were going to be eating onion rings!

  7. I love onion soup. I bet it was delicious.

  8. That Maui Onion tortellini en brodo sound delicious!

    If you ever feel like attending another onion festival, Vidalia (Georgia) has a huge one dedicated the the sweet Vidalia onion. I love those onions.

  9. Ron | Active Planet Travels says:

    Wow that looks fabulous! I’m usually not a big fan of onions but I’d give this a shot! Reminds me of some of the dishes I had at the 2012 Aspen Food & Wine Festival! Can I eat your photos now? 😛

  10. Ava Apollo says:

    The Maui onion is a little sweeter, right?

  11. Ryan at Travel and Graphs says:

    This looks like so much fun! Is there a better gig than having amazing chefs cook just for you?

  12. You are certainly eating well over there! Everything looks divine.

  13. I’m a big onion lover! *adds to list of things to do*

  14. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey says:

    Seems to me that ALL of these dishes would have been better with bacon…

  15. That looks like a lot of fun! The closest I’ve been to something like this was a “who can grown the biggest onion” competition in north east England. The resulting onions were impressive in girth, but not so good for eating!

  16. I don’t know how you’ve done it, but your photos have made onions look quite gourmet!!

  17. Cole @ Four Jandals says:

    Have loved all your Hawaii posts and it’s a shame you have to leave 🙁 Would love to visit in the future and especially live onions, but usually just fried on a burger is good enough for me!

  18. Jess | GlobetrotterGirls says:

    It’s really true – who knew that there could be such complexity in a festival like this! Makes me look at the Isle of Wight’s Garlic Festival in England with more interest, too. Very interesting!

  19. Jeremy Branham says:

    Well at least it wasn’t garlic. I am not a big fan of onions but I had no idea Maui onions were so popular.

  20. Caz Makepeace says:

    So cool you got to judge this. I am not an onion fan at all. Great flavour just a terrible after taste for me that I hate.

  21. Payje Bier says:

    I love Maui onions, they’re sooo good and sweet and perfect! Beautiful photography in this post too, yum!

  22. Bret @ Green Global Travel says:

    My first thought upon seeing this post: Why are all the cool kids getting to go to Maui?

    My second thought on seeing this post: Onions are the ONLY food in the world I cannot stand, so perhaps it’s for the best we weren’t invited.

  23. Carolyn Jung says:

    Lucky you to get to devour all those wonderful dishes full of sweet Maui onions — best onions around. 😉

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