Dining in Maui Vickie Meets Chef Wesley Holder

I was recently dining in Maui at Pulehu Italian Grill  and my taste buds danced with delight as I devoured every single bite of the wonderful food created by Chef Wesley Holder! 

 I reviewed the restaurant under a separate blog and you can see photos of the restaurant and details about my meal under that post:

Pulehu – An  Italian Grill is the Exotic in Maui. 

I returned to the restaurant my last day on the island and I was able to meet Chef Wes ( and enjoy one of his wood oven pizzas) before I had to catch my plane and return home.

Chef Wesley is so talented!  His food is creative in both taste and texture.  Visually, his food is absolutely delightful!

Chef Wes took First Place in the Maui Onion Festival May 5, 2012 for his Maui Onion Tortellini En Brodo. 

He proudly displayed his “Best in Show” award from the recent Ka’anapali Fresh competition.

Chef Wes also won the Farm to Fork competition in 2011.


The Chef and I discussed cooking in a wood oven.  I had a wood oven for many years and I hope to add a wood oven to my new home in the near future.  Chef Wes said he grew up with wood oven cooking and his skills are evident when you dine at Pulehu.

Vickie and Chef Wes at Pulehu Italian Grill

When dining in Maui, you will have lots of choices.  I highly recommend you check out this wonderful restaurant and Chef Wesley Holder.



Vickie Meets Chef Alexander Stanislaw

I recently dined at The Plantation House Restaurant in Kapalua, Maui and I was honored to meet the Executive Chef, Alex Stanislaw.


Chef Alex greeted me with a huge smile and made me feel right at home as we posed for some quick pictures.

This innovative chef creates specialties that blend regional Pacific fusion style with Mediterranean flavors and the results are outstanding.  I enjoyed lunch at The Plantation House Restaurant and reviewed the restaurant under a separate Make Life Special Blog post.      



The Plantation House Restaurant Maui Review

As most of my blog followers know, I have been in Maui enjoying the sun, sand, shopping and spectacular food!  My last day on the island included a stop at The Plantation House Restaurant for a casually elegant island style lunch.  

The Plantation House Restaurant is located in Kapalua – just a short drive from Ka’anapali Beach.  The restaurant was highly recommended to me and I was not disappointed.  The restaurant has a traditional plantation house atmosphere with teak wood furniture and plantation style windows that open out to a spectacular island  view.

I was greeted by Elyse Byron, Director of Aloha, who gave me a very warm island welcome and seated me at a table with a breathtaking view.  Elyse has had an impressive career working with chefs including five and a half years as the Executive Assistant to  Chef Michael Chiarello   in Yountville California.

The view…..

The lunch menu depicts the beautiful surroundings…


I selected the Macadamia Nut Basil Pesto Pasta with Shrimp and paired it with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  The flavors and creamy goodness of this dish were outstanding.

While enjoying my entree, I was also welcomed to the restaurant by Norm Schuhardt, General Manager and Partner of the Plantation House Restaurant.  

The dessert offerings were too tempting to pass up so I selected the Lillikoi Creme Brulee – a rich passion fruit custard base dessert with a crackly layer of caramelized sugar on top.  


I was thrilled to meet the Executive Chef, Alexander Stanislaw ( more about Chef Alex in a separate post)

Vickie and Chef Alex Stanislaw

The lunch at The Plantation House Restaurant was absolutely wonderful.  When I return to Maui next year, I want to stop by the restaurant for dinner.  The dinner menu showcases Chef Alex’s specialties with bold Mediterranean flavors blended with the freshest local produce, herbs and seafood available.  The menu is filled with truly inspired cuisine.  The restaurant also has an extensive wine collection and the dinner menu offers wine pairing suggestions.  

This review was my honest opinion of the Plantation House Restaurant, the staff, the service and  the food.     



Crab Cake Lunch on Kaanapali Beach

What could be better than a crab cake lunch on Kaanapali Beach?

Next week I will feature my Crab Cake recipe with the trick I use to keep the crab cakes from falling apart when I cook them.  Crab cakes are really very easy to make and you can either use fresh crab or canned crab.  My recipe uses canned crab since it’s not always easy to buy fresh crab.   

Here are the wonderful crab cakes I had for lunch on Kaanapali Beach.  I like how they served them on wilted fresh spinach and I’ll be using that same idea when I feature my Crab Cake recipe next week.  I also liked the grilled lemon half as an extra nice touch…

Here are some pictures of my beautiful walk along Kaanapali Beach….


I think a trip to Maui is really a trip of a lifetime!  The beauty is abundant.  Walks along the pristine beaches are invigorating and there is so much to enjoy in the nature around us.  Kaanapali Beach has a lot to offer in not only beauty but also things to do.  You can stay busy every minute if you want to.  The Westin has scenic helicopter tours, hiking trips, shopping tours plus much more.   I have decided not to do a lot of the tours and activities.  I just want to soak up some relaxation while I am here.  

Remember — Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!

Wine Tasting Pulehu Grill While Dining in Maui

Dining in Maui can be an adventure!

There are so many choices when dining in Maui.  Maui has so much to offer for any vacation.   I love wine and participated in a Wine Class at Pulehu Italian Grill in Maui last night.  The class was billed as “Monday Mixology” but I was thrilled to learn that James Hansen, General Manager of Pulehu, was just featuring wine last night.    I enjoyed a food pairing – presented by Chef Wesley Holder- along with insightful facts about wine presented by Jim.

I learned some interesting facts about wine.  For instance…..

* How many grapes does it take to make a bottle of wine?

  (Answer:  400 to 600 grapes) 

* What is the proper way to hold a wine glass?

(Answer:  Always by the stem)

* What percentage of the total California wine does Napa produce?  ( We all guessed over 80%)

 (Answer:  About 5 %)

* How much of the California wine is exported to other countries?  ( We all said not much because we are all doing our part to drink it!!)      

 (Answer:  90%)

Jim, who seems to escape my camera, introduced our happy tasting group to three wonderful wines.

The first ( which is now one of my favorites) was:

Orin Swift’s “The Prisoner”

This is a big, bold and satisfying Zinfandel blend from California  was a real crowd pleaser!

Next we enjoyed Tikal Amorio, a Malbec from Mendoza Argentina.  This wine, produced by Ernesto Catena is named Amorio, or “Love Affair” to convey the deep love the Argentine people have toward the Malbec grape.

 Lastly, Jim presented:

Montes Purple Angel

A Carmenere blend from Chile, South America.  This wine was full bodied with a combination of dark fruit flavors and some lively hints of spice.  I especially enjoyed this wine because I toured the Montes Winery in Chile about 7 years ago and fell in love with the wine and the people.

Chef Wes prepared a beautiful pairing for the tasting made from purple Okinawan sweet potatoes.

The evening was delightful , very informative, and reasonably priced.  It was a great way to meet new people who share my passion for wine and great food.

  This is  my honest review of the wine tasting offered at Pulehu Italian Restaurant in Maui. 


Pulehu Grill is the Exotic While Dining in Maui

Dining in Maui can be an adventure!

I was told that Pulehu is the best Italian Restaurant while dining in Maui , and after my dinner there last night, I would have to agree.   Pulehu is loacted at the  Westin Kaanapali Beach Resort.   From Elyse, who greeted me upon arrival to the final wonderful Tiramisu dessert which is house made – my dinner was exquisite.  Pulehu : pronounced pu-leh-hu, is Hawaiian verbiage meaning to cook on an open flame.  The restaurant has a beautiful wood oven which you can see through the glass enclosed cooking area.  Ancient Hawaiians would cook steaks, fish and wild game on campfires and Pulehu has continued that tradition in style.

 Elyse… A wonderful hostess….

She gave me a big smile and a warm Aloha Welcome when I arrived.  She seated me at a great table on the open side of the restaurant beside the Koi Pond.  The restaurant has eight tables beside the Koi Pond and it is worth getting there early to get one of these tables.  The restaurant seating is first come first served.  

Here I’m pictured with the lovely Elyse….. 

Koi Fish are known as a symbol for fortune and luck and the courage to attain high goals.  It was interesting to learn that Koi fish are like individual snowflakes – each patterned Koi fish is unique and exact colors and patterns are never repeated from one fish to the next.  Most Koi live to be around 35 years old but the oldest Koi on record was 226 years old.


I was welcomed by General Manager James  Hansen and given a demonstration of how even the water you drink with your wine can affect the taste of the wine.  Jim will be teaching the “Monday Mixology” class  which I will be taking this afternoon — so more on Jim in my next post.  Jim says he will be serving South American wines this afternoon and we will be enjoying food pairing along with insightful facts about the featured wines.  I can’t wait!!!!

I started off my dinner by selecting Orin Swift’s “The Prisoner” to enjoy during the evening.  I have wanted to taste this wine for a long time and I was delighted to see Pulehu offered it by the glass and by the carafe.  The wine was outstanding and complemented my dinner selection perfectly.


My server, Jonathan, was very attentive and made my whole evening very enjoyable…

Pulehu offers and prix fixe menu for early diners but I decided to sample the offerings from the main menu.  I started with the Wild Arugula and Roasted Beet Salad.  They use beets and onions grown in Kula from Kula Farms and goat cheese from Surfing Goat Dairy.  This was delicious….

My entree , the Molokai Sweet Potato Gnocchi , was recommended by Jonathan and his recommendation was perfect!  This entree was featured at the Kaanapali Fresh culinary experience this past weekend by Chef Wesley Holder.  Chef Wes was not in the restaurant last night but I plan on returning to meet him on Friday.  The gnocchi is tossed with wild boar bacon and spinach in a brown butter sauce; topped with large Molokai prawns.  It was garnished with a balsamic sauce, pine nuts and currants.  Words cannot describe how wonderful this dish was….

I finished the evening with the house made tiramisu and was not disappointed..

Notice the attention to detail with the garnish of Cocoa powder dusted over a fork and then the fork was removed before serving.  This is a great example of how we can do simple things in our kitchens that add that “special touch”…

I highly recommend Pulehu as an outstanding choice for dining in Maui.  It was very romantic and certainly priced right.  Pulehu is located at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas North.

This review was my honest opinion of this restaurant, the staff and the food.



Aloha from Maui

Aloha from the beautiful island of Maui!  I arrived at the The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas late last night after a long day ( 14 1/2 hours) of traveling.   Yesterday included two layovers and one lost piece of luggage but I arrived ready to enjoy the peace and beauty of this wonderful island.   

My morning began at 5:30 A.M. with a stunning 2 hour walk on the beach complete with the surprise viewing of two different rainbows..  

This was a gentle reminder that life is full of promise and where there is love….there is hope.

The black rocks on the beach will be my new collection…( I remember the movie “Something’s Gotta Give” )….

Then came my stop at Ocean’s Grill for breakfast.  The breakfast buffet came complete with Egg’s Benedict ( my favorite) and I added a Mimosa!!!  Next week I plan on featuring my recipe for Eggs Benedict for a Crowd that is EASY, EASY, EASY…and so good!  I’ll also feature a recipe for Mimosa’s and show you how to set up a Mimosa Bar for parties or brunch buffets.


Eggs Benedict…..





They also featured a beautiful buffet of Pineapple Portuguese Sausage….

Fresh Papaya with bright green wedges of fresh limes……

And a Cheese and Salmon Tray…

I have several ideas for next week’s posts including the Eggs Benedict for a Crowd, Mimosas and a make ahead Fresh Fruit and Greek Yogurt Bowl…..


My walk back was spectacular…..

Here’s to a great week of sharing new food ideas with you from the paradise of Maui!


Make Life Special
2 Cypress Rd Litchfield, IL 62056 US
Phone: 217-556-8297 Website: http://www.makelifespecial.com