Happy Mothers Day from Maui’s “Celebration of the Arts”

My mom and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Mothers Day this year than to jet off to Maui for the 23rd Annual Celebration of the Arts, a weekend festival that brings together Hawaiian artists, cultural practitioners, chefs, musicians, dancers and artisans.

But for us, the highlight is the celebration luau, the best in the state. The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua pulls no punches with this one, either.

Grammy-award winner Kumu Carson served as MC for the music and hula, reminding the crowd that the event is designed to showcase Hawaiian culture and art. “We’re much more than just the best mai tai in the world,” he said. “We’re also about the heart and spirit of Hawaii. We give thanks to the creator and our ancestors because we are guests here.”

“Everything has to be completely authentic for this one,” the lead chef told me as he was assembling a platter of tiny crawfish caught hours ago from a local stream specifically for this dinner. “No shortcuts. Everything local as we can get.”

So, of course, there was kalua pig, that tender, juicy mix of hog and smoke from a long, slow roast in an earthen oven, carved from six 120-pound hogs. Plus thirty turkeys, a several-hundred-pound ahi tuna for poke, a bajillion pounds of taro for poi, lilikoi desserts (malasada doughnuts and cakes), beef and pork laulau tied up in tiny packages of ti leaves, octopus, Molokai sweet potatoes and fresh mahi mahi. Golden Corral has nothing on a good luau.

The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua hosts the annual event with the Hawaii Tourism Authority as a way of thanking the community and celebrating the state’s culture.

“Peace, health and poi,” as the hotel’s GM, Alex Ahluwalla, put it. So pass the poi.