Posts Tagged ‘luau’

The Kam family had the pleasure of seeing the Polynesian Cultural Center’s new show “Ha: Breath of Life” a few weeks ago as a guest of the center and really enjoyed it. It’s a colorful production the entire family can enjoy with a touching storyline and action packed performances from start to end with exciting dancing, great music, and beautiful costumes.

PCC is a client of the firm I work at and it’s been hosting agency staff and special guests from around town to experience the night show and spread the word. As a kamaaina (Hawaii resident), I’ll confess that going to a luau and a Polynesian show isn’t the first thing on our weekend “to do” list. I’d be willing to bet that’s probably the case with many locals. However, as a public relations executive in the tourism industry, it’s important for me to play “tourist” and experience as much of what these islands have to offer.

So we made the 30+ mile journey from Central Oahu to Laie with the thought in the back of my mind that “this better be worth it.” And I’m glad we did because it certainly was.

Here’s my 5 reasons I feel it’s worth heading north to see this beautiful production called Ha: Breath of Life:

#1: GOOD USE OF TECHNOLOGY – The feature animation projected onto different parts of the theater to transition each section of the show was a nice touch. It modernized the show without taking away from its authenticity and provided a visual narration of the story that was taking place on stage. It was a good way to move from the exciting dances, back to the storyline, then back to the dancing.

#2: BEAUTIFUL COSTUMES AND DANCING – One of the most impressive things about the show is the detailed costuming representing each Polynesian culture. Talk about colorful and attention getting. Combined with the traditional dances makes for an incredible visual presence on stage. Aside from looking down at my iPhone to tweet every now and then about what we were seeing, my eyes were glued to the stage the entire time.

#3: THE STORYLINE IS NOT CHEESY! – Whenever I attend a show like this, I’m always weary of cheesy storylines that make you want to gag. Thankfully, Ha: Breath of Life came nowhere near cheesy on my radar. In fact the story of Mana is an engaging one that really keeps the show interesting, through emotional highs and lows, as he goes from being a boy to becoming a man. But the way the Polynesian Cultural Center website describes it is much better:

This is every man’s story, told through the life of a Polynesian man named Mana. Journey along with young Mana as he is born out of the turmoil of a capsized canoe, washed upon the shores of life to find his way. He and his parents find refuge in Tonga and learn the importance of community. Little Mana celebrates his early years of life in Hawaii with the customary birthday luau marking his survival in the world. We next see Mana as a young boy in Aotearoa, or Maori New Zealand, where he is growing and becoming a young man. As he comes upon a beautiful maiden named Lani in Samoa, he learns about falling in love and earning the acceptance of her family. With love comes marriage and soon Mana and Lani are taking their vows in the romantic setting of Tahiti. War touches their lives in Fiji and Mana is saddened by the death of his father. The story begins again with the celebration of life as Mana and Lani welcome their new baby into the world.

#4: THE FIRE DANCE – I’ve never seen anything like it before. A bunch of dudes wearing ti leaf skirts and dancing over a pit of hot fire. And not just dancing over it, but actually sitting on it as well. This fire dance was one of my favorite parts of the night. Not only was it memorable, but it had me scratching my head as a man thinking “that must be harsh on the…errrr…private parts.” I’m still not quite sure how they did it, but it certainly was awesome! Kids…and adults…do not try this at home.

#5: THE SHOW IS A GREAT VALUE! – To see the show only is just $45 for adults and $35 for children making this arguably the one of the best deals on the island for Polynesian entertainment. And 90 minutes of it for that matter. And kamaaina (Hawaii residents) have an even better deal to see the show for just $25 (plus buffet dinner) for a limited time to get out there and go see it. Of course, if you’re going to make the trip to PCC you’ll want to make time to explore the rest of the park too and possibly grab a bite before the show, so check out all of the Center’s different packages to make the most of your day.

Overall, this is definitely a show even locals will enjoy! If you happen to get out there to see it, I’d be interested to hear what you thought about the experience. Aloha!


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Anthony Bourdain came to Hawaii. He saw. He conquered. And in the end, he loved every minute of his time in the Hawaiian Islands! YES!

So why were all of the locals (including yours truly) holding our collective breath as the Hawaii episode of No Reservations aired on the Travel Channel last night? Well, because it’s Bourdain we’re talking about here. No one could have guessed whether a dash of Spam Musubi and good ‘ol dousing of Aloha Spirit would be enough to win the heart of this “tell it like it is” chef. But it did, as well as many other experiences the bad boy chef had while he was in Hawaii.

A $3,000 aloha shirt from Bailey’s, out of this world Puka Dog in Waikiki, delicious grinds at Ono Hawaiian Food, hanging out with the island’s top chefs at Side Street Inn, a visit to the famous North Shore of Oahu, all the SPAM he could eat at New Uptown Fountain, a typical local backyard BBQ, exploration into tiki drinks at La Mariana, and visit to volcano on Hawaii Island was the perfect recipe to prove to Bourdain that Hawaii is much more than sun, sand, and surf. Surprisingly, he even managed to enjoy himself at the Paradise Cove Luau.

The show was a fantastic showcase and representation of the way Hawaii people live and eat in its truest sense. Bourdain dove right in to the local lifestyle enjoyed here in the islands and opened his mind and heart to everything the encountered. The result was a new appreciation for a place he doubted before, but grew to love in one short week. Funny how Hawaii does that to people sometimes.

To all involved in this endeavor to welcome Bourdain to Hawaii…much mahalo! Mr. Bourdain, we enjoyed your presence here in the 50th state, are totally stoked you enjoyed what you saw/ate, and hope you come back to visit again soon!

For the low down and further insights into the production, be sure to visit my colleague Michael Ni’s blog.


[Photo courtesy of Travel Channel]


Congratulations to Chef Robert Irvine and his crew for pulling off an amazing Hawaiian luau in just eight hours. The Dinner: Impossible – Late for the Luau – Hawaii episode was fantastic and I’m about ready to leave the house to go find some Hawaiian food.

Chef Irvine did an amazing job cooking the kalua pig in the imu, making 150 laulau, poke, squid luau, and a bunch of other dishes. Even the contemporary dishes like the Sweet Potato Risotto and Hearts of Palm Salad looked so ono! Everything looked great and the guests at Kona Village Resort obviously loved it! Big mahalo to local Chef Sam Choy for helping Chef Irvine along the way. Sam is an amazing chef and truly one of the pioneers of Hawaii cooking.

It was clear to me from the start that Chef Irvine was genuinely happy to be in Hawaii and on the Big Island. Even though he didn’t care for poi, he did have some great things to say about his time in Hawaii last November. My Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) PR team at McNeil Wilson asked Chef Irvine a few questions about his time in the islands. Here’s a bit of a “behind the scenes” look into tonight’s episode:

dinnerimpos_leftgutter.jpgDescribe your thoughts when you found out that you were doing a Hawaii challenge?

Chef Irvine: I actually had a day to unwind in Hawaii bewfore I received the challenge, which is rare for me on Dinner: Impossible. I played some golf, had a nice dinner and awoke to meet my fate. When I heard the challenge, with the beautiful Hawaiian seacape behind me, I had my usual moment of mental panic, wondering if I would have food available, equipment, a kitchen or any of the things I would need to put dinner on the table. Then it was off to the races.

When you were told you would have to put on an authentic Hawaiian luau in only eight hours, what were you feeling?

Chef Irvine: I felt immediately that there was a three hundred pound gorilla… or swine… in the room, because I knew instinctively that I was going to have to face off against Kalua Pig. I have dealt with Kalua Pig once or twice before in my career and I knew right away that in order to do it properly, I should have started at least three hours earlier. And you don’t get a second chance; once you dig it out of the ground, if it’s not properly cooked, you’ve nowhere to go… excpet maybe to just swim off into the ocean. I immediately felt better, though, once I saw Sam Choy’s smiling face.

What was the most challenging aspect of this mission?

Chef Irvine: Physically, it was very demanding dealing with the digging and the manipulation of the Kalua Pig. I’m still in pretty good shape, but I’d hate to have to go through that regimen every day. Also, I’m very intense in cooking situations, especially on these challenges, and I had to work to overcome my natural tendencies a bit to happily coexist with my native kitchen helpers, who were working on Hawaiian time.

What was the most valuable lesson/ tip that guest chef Sam Choy gave you?

Chef Irvine: First, let me say that Sam is a national treasure, not just a treasure of the Hawaiian Islands. I love him to death. The number one lesson he taught me that day was to respect the fantastic, fresh native ingredients, some of which had just been pulled out of the ocean hours before we started, and to respect the traditions of how the foods are usually prepared. I was going to be serving my food later that day to folks who grew up going to luaus, so if I tried to get fancy or mess about with their expectations, I was going to get caught out.

Describe some of the produce/ items you used in creating your menu. What were the most unique or unusual products that you had to use?

Chef Irvine: Luau leaves and Ti leaves, I had never encountered before. Learning how to tie up a lau-lau was an adventure, especially when I found out I’d be responsible for getting hundreds of them in the ground before we could cover the pig. I’d seen and tasted poi that had been comercially made before, but I’d never seen it made fresh- I credit my sous chef David for doing a great job on the poi. Even some of the foods I was familar with, like Ahi tuna, we used in new and creative ways… new to me anyway. I had never made poke before and I was able to learn from the master, Sam Choy. Now I’m hooked on Hawaiian cuisine.

What was the most memorable part of filming this episode for you?

Chef Irvine: I love the beauty and atmosphere of the islands. I learned things about the traditions that have grown up here for hundreds of years. For instance, at the end of the challenge, we served up the cheeks of the pig and the poi we had made to Sam, the King of the Feast. Very simple, but filled with meaning. I played golf with the Hawaiian sea spray coming in from the ocean, I went out on an outrigger canoe with a great local family who virtually adopted us for the afternoon.. and we beat the challenge. I think it was one of the best episodes we’ve ever done on the show!

Big mahalo to my MWC colleagues Merrissa and Rhegan for ensuring this production went as smoothly as possible. To all that tuned in, I hope you enjoyed the show!!