WAILEA, Hawaii - Michael "Mike" Lofaro, chef de cuisine of the prized Humuhumunukunukuapua`a restaurant at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort was awarded Chef of the Year last night at the Maui No Ka Oi Magazine's `Aipono Awards Gala at Grand Wailea. The prestigious Chef of the Year title is decided by peer review - voted on exclusively by Maui chefs. Lofaro also received the Most Innovative Menu award and a silver award for Best Pacific Rim cuisine by the readers of the magazine.

Lofaro is a graduate from the esteemed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He was executive chef at Mill's Tavern in Providence, Rhode Island where he achieved the distinguished Mobil Four Star Award, and worked with famed chef Michael Mina of Aqua in San Francisco before landing at Grand Wailea in 2005. In 2014 The Maui News readers named Lofaro Best Maui Chef and his restaurant Best Resort Restaurant.

Known as the "waterman chef," Lofaro not only uses the ocean as inspiration for his dishes, he also uses it as his personal hunting ground. His creative menus have him paddling a mile offshore at midnight to catch malolo (flying fish) and opelu (mackerel); hiking several hours into a valley to gather pohole fern; and jumping off the rugged ocean cliffs of the East shores of Maui to pick opihi (limpet). His quarterly dinner series, called "Ka Malama," is his muse in fishing, gathering, and hunting to develop an experience based on the Hawaiian moon calendar, and what is in season during certain phases of the moon. In addition, his award-winning kai momona dish combines wana (sea urchin), shellfish coconut emulsion, ogo (seaweed). This dish in particular, won Best Protein Dish at the 2016 Maui County Agricultural Festival.

As a result of taking the concept of "farm-to-table" one step further, Lofaro has inspired a television series - SEARCH Hawaii, Where Food Meets Culture - that will air a total of 12 half-hour shows weekly on KHON2-Fox in Hawaii beginning June 4, with an hour special in September. The show will air globally on independent stations around the world this fall, and on Hawaiian Airlines flights to and from Hawaii. He and his co-host Kainoa Horcajo, a Hawaiian cultural ambassador, have diverse, but similarly passionate backgrounds. SEARCH Hawaii inspires viewers to consider local ingredients, while they learn about Hawaii's cultures and traditions with visually rousing images of their island home, meetings with local heroes farming, fishing and cooking cultural ingredients throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

"The Chef of the Year is someone that everyone looks up to," said Becky Speere, dining editor for Maui Magazine. "The chefs vote for this award. Honoring the Hawaiian culture has earned Chef Mike the respect of industry peers."

For more information, visit www.grandwailea.com or call 1-800-888-6100. Follow us at @GrandWailea.

Grand Wailea participates in Hilton HHonors®, the only guest loyalty program where guests who book directly through www.waldorfastoria.com have access to benefits including digital check-in, choose your room, and free Wi-Fi at over 20 Waldorf Astoria hotels worldwide.

About the `Aipono Restaurant Awards
Now in their 14th year, the `Aipono Restaurant Awards are the first high-profile dining awards devoted entirely to Maui. They are awards of honor and distinction determined by the readers - the residents and regular visitors of Maui. The awards presentation gala is a benefit for the Maui Culinary Academy.

John Walls
Hilton Worldwide
+1 703 883 5292

Yvonne Biegel
+1 (808) 891-3383

About Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
The newly refreshed landmark resort consistently ranks among the world's best in leading travel and consumer reports. Nestled on 40 acres of lush, tropical gardens fronting Wailea Beach, Grand Wailea, Waldorf Astoria Resort provides a range of vacation experiences:  open spaces for the active vacationer, beauty and seclusion for romantic getaways, and family fun - ranging from a fully equipped camp for children and a teen lounge to rope swings and a jungle-style river pool. Guests also have access to the luxurious Spa Grande, a standard-setter in the world of resort spas, as well as eight restaurants, including the award-winning "Best of Maui" Humuhumunukunukuapua'a. Accommodation options include Grand Wailea's 780 rooms and suites and an enclave of 120 luxury villas Ho'olei at Grand Wailea ranging from 3,200 to 4,000 sq. ft., located nearby with access to Grand Wailea amenities. For reservations and information, call 1-800-888-6100 or visit www.grandwailea.com

Sarah Kingsley
+1 703 883 6772

Yvonne Biegel
+1 (808) 891-3383

About Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts
Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts is a portfolio of nearly 30 iconic properties that create a unique sense of place with a relentless commitment to personal service and culinary expertise in landmark locations around the world. Unified by their inspirational environments and True Waldorf Service, Waldorf Astoria hotels deliver graceful service from the moment a guest books through checkout. Waldorf Astoria is a part of Hilton, a leading global hospitality company. Experience Waldorf Astoria by booking at www.waldorfastoria.com or through the Hilton Honors mobile app. Learn about the brand by visiting news.waldorfastoria.com, and follow Waldorf Astoria on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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