Special ʻAipono Awards for 2017 (VIDEOS)

Each year, ‘Aipono honors a few individuals and companies chosen by industry professionals. Winners for 2017 are:


★ Click here for full list of 2017 ʻAipono winners ★

Cody Christopher, Travis Morrin and Jaron Blosser.

Maui County Farm Bureau’s Friend of Agriculture: Three’s Bar & Grill and Fork & Salad

The chef-owners behind Three’s Bar & Grill — Jaron Blosser, Cody Christopher, and Travis Morrin — understand that great food starts with sourcing the right ingredients. That’s one of the reasons this dynamic trio has been buying locally since opening the restaurant in 2009.

In 2016 they opened their second restaurant, Fork & Salad, a fresh take on farm-to-table cuisine. The casual venue offers quick and healthy meal option, including build-your-own salads. Blosser, Christopher and Morrin support island farmers, ranchers and fishermen with a menu that showcases local ingredients and sites their sources.

“Since opening their first restaurant, the chef-owners have supported local, and with Fork & Salad, they have created a completely new market for local agriculture,” says Maui County Farm Bureau Executive Director Warren Watanabe. “In addition, the chefs are active in their support of the bureau through their participation at the Maui County Agricultural Festival. They are also excellent promoters of farmers and ranchers on their menus, website, ads and social media.”

Maui Tropical PlantationExcellence in Sustainability: Maui Tropical Plantation

At Maui Tropical Plantation, working towards sustainability is a group effort. The company demonstrates its vision in a variety of ways, from incorporating energy-efficient equipment and water-conservation methods, to supporting local farmers by purchasing produce for the Plantation’s award-winning The Mill House restaurant.

Maui Tropical Plantation has extended its reach into the community, leasing land to several farmers who are employing sustainable practices. The company also hosts a variety of on-site events, including the annual Maui County Agricultural Festival, monthly meetings of Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United, and workshops promoting regenerative farming practices.

“They’re like a classroom of sustainability, showcasing methods and practices that set the example for others to follow,” says Bob King, president of Pacific Biodiesel, whose company is farming sunflowers as a biofuel crop on 115 acres of land owned by Maui Tropical Plantation.

The Plantation also offers a digital guidebook for a self-guided walking tour of the property where guests learn about the native flora with the goal of promoting an appreciation for these plants and encouraging their protection.

Maui Tropical Plantation is “walking the talk — and that’s what our company stands for, too,” says King.

Na Hoaloha Ekolu
From left: Robert Aguiar, Michael Moore and Tim Moore in 2007.

‘Aipono Icon Award: Nā Hoaloha ʻEkolu

It all began in 1986 when three friends — Michael Moore, Robert Aguiar and Tim Moore — decided to open a lū‘au dinner show. They kept their day jobs and operated the lū‘au three nights a week, serving about 100 guests per night.

More than three decades later, the restaurant group owns and operates Old Lāhaina Lū‘au, Aloha Mixed Plate, Star Noodle, and Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop. Maui Nō Ka ʻOi Magazine readers are obviously fans — the venues have earned more than four-dozen ‘Aipono Awards.

Today, the Hoaloha ‘ohana (family) also includes a bakeshop that prepares breads and pastries for the company’s restaurants; a farm that grows taro for the lū‘au, for taro chips sold at Leoda’s, and for bags of poi made available inexpensively to seniors in the community; and the Charles Ku‘upu Learning Center, located in Hale Aloha, a historic stone building in Lahaina.

Nā Hoaloha ʻEkolu is serious about giving back to the community, and over the years has hosted such charitable events as Empty Bowl, a project to benefit Maui Food Bank and other nonprofits; and Hawaiian Islands Land Trust’s annual Buy Back the Beach fundraiser.

To celebrate thirty years of being in business and giving back to the local community, in 2016 Nā Hoaloha ʻEkolu launched 30 Acts of Aloha, a volunteer program that started on Maui, spread across the state, then the nation, and culminated in a service project in Laos. In addition to more than 4,000 volunteer hours provided by Nā Hoaloha ʻEkolu staff through the program, the company and its employees donated $130,000 to Hawaiʻi nonprofits last year alone.

“They have done so much for the Maui community that they challenged themselves to go beyond our shores,” says Maui Nō Ka ʻOi publisher Diane Haynes Woodburn. “The beauty of it is that they instill in their employees a sense of responsibility and a joy of giving back as well.”

★ Click here for full list of 2017 ʻAipono winners ★


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