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Makawao Eats: Seabury Hall 2013 Graduation Luau

While up on Maui last month, Aunty Cora (sister of Lehua Kalima) invited us to a luau at Seabury Hall for the graduating high school class of 2013, whom her twin daughters are a part of. Seabury Hall is a private school situated on the slopes of Haleakala in beautiful “upcountry” Makawao.

Before I continue on about the luau and Seabury Hall, a few words about Makawao, as this is definitely another town you MUST visit on your visit to Maui. It is absolutely BREATHTAKING up there!  And I mean that both literally and figuratively, as Makawao’s elevation is quite high up above sea level on the Haleakala slope, overlooking sweeping views of central Maui, from southern Ma’alaea to northern Kahului, and of course the West Maui Mountain as its backdrop.

From the surf and sea below, suddenly you’re transported into “paniolo cowboy” country, surrounded by lush green pastures and farm land, along with a wonderful cool snappy crisp in the air. We were there during the summer, however during winter, Makawao is certainly a place you’ll need a jacket. It’s actually almost like you’re not even in Hawaii anymore, but more like say, Montana. Seeing the blue Pacific ocean from there out in the distance almost seems out of place.

Polo Player rides his horse in front of Oskie Rice Arena

On the main streets of Makawao, it appears many of the old stores have been converted to modern tourist-oriented shops, similar to what you’d find in Waikiki, yet at least some lean towards the cowboy/country theme to fit in. Of course there’s still the old school Komoda Bakery, famous for their Butter Rolls and other unique specialty pastries. Casanova’s is also still there, an Italian restaurant that moonlights as one of very few hot spot nightclubs on Maui at night.

Seabury Hall on May 25, 2013, day of the graduation luau for the class of 2013

Now for the subject at hand at Seabury Hall on Olinda Road… in a word, WOW! First time I’ve been there, and I must say, it’s absolutely GORGEOUS! While the architecture and grounds are of course nicely maintained and manicured, it’s the LOCATION of that property that really makes the Seabury Hall campus stand out, even above top tier college campuses on the mainland. With lush pastures and farmland flanking the sides, along with an open view of said central Maui (in Hawaii, hello!) from high above, it really is a stunning property to behold. Where you practically have to slap yourself upside the head and think, “Am I really at a high school? This looks more like the house of GOD!”

While schools such as Kamehameha’s Kapalama campus, and even St. Louis/Chaminade have scenic sweeping views of Honolulu, the dense urban sprawl and concrete “jungles” below are somewhat detracting. Because central Maui is relatively undeveloped, the view from upcountry still has the charm of God’s given natural beauty, plus again as a pun intended “icing on the cake”, the chilly snappy upcountry Maui air that’s so uniquely captivating while you stand there and take it all in. You just have to be there to experience it yourself in your skin and soul. No photos or words can convey the feeling.

Oskie Rice Arena Maui Roping Club in Makawao, Maui

And in case you’re going to ask, tuition at privately operated Seabury Hall does not come cheap, as does hardly anything on Maui. Try $18,000 per year. While that’s up there, it’s not the highest in the state, where according to Honolulu Magazine in a recent 2013 article, Punahou is now at just under $20,000 for grades 9 thru 12, while top tuition honors goes to the Big Island of Hawaii at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, where it’s at $22,300 per year for high school students. And get this: HPA’s total annual cost can soar as high as over $50,000 if dorm facilities — which are available there — are factored in.  Dang it, there goes that new fishing boat or backyard swimming pool you wanted, right?

Getting to the grindz, for the class of 2013 graduation luau, the menu included Kalua Pig, Lomi Salmon, Poi, Teriyaki Chicken, Baked Mahimahi with a Lemon Caper Sauce, Steamed Broccoli, Okinawan Sweet Potato, Caesar Salad, an assortment of cakes and Haupia.

Here’s a few sample plates…

Seabury Hall class of 2013 graduation Luau grindz: Steamed Mahimahi with Lemon Caper Sauce, Okinawan Sweet Potato, Haupia, Steamed Broccoli and Caesar Salad

Seabury Hall class of 2013 graduation Luau grindz: Poi, Kalua Pig, Teriyaki Chicken, Rice, Steamed Mahimahi, Steamed Broccoli and Lomi Salmon

Seabury Hall class of 2013 graduation Luau plate

Seabury Hall class of 2013 graduation Luau dessert: Haupia and Layered Chocolate Cake

And? Winnahz! For a catered event held out in the open chilly air like that, every dish, except for the steamed broccoli was executed really well. The Teriyaki Chicken was flavorful (the teri’ sauce was really ono!), moist and tender. Same for the Kalua Pig, which had a nice smokey flavor and lots of tasty, porky fatty juices drippin’ in the pan to scoop up goin’ on. You know how that rolls. Lomi Salmon nailed it. Had enough salted salmon to not be “Lomi Tomato”. Dressing for the Caesar was good, lettuce was crisp, croutons full of herbal flavor and crunchy. Okinawan Sweet Potatoes were also steamed perfectly al dente and, unlike the steamed broccoli, were full flavored, regardless of not having any salt on it. That Aloha Poi Factory Maui Poi just as good and fresh as the Taro brand here on Oahu. Haupia tasted like the instant NOH stuff, which actually is quite good if you ever tried it. The chocolate cake really moist and not too sweet, which is always my biggest peeve with cakes. This one had good balance.

Overall, I give 3 out of 5 Ume/SPAM Musubi (very good) for Seabury Hall’s 2013 graduation Luau grindz. If they lost the tasteless steamed (most likely previously frozen) steamed broccoli, and swapped that out with Chicken Long Rice or Squid Luau, this spread would have gotten a 4… providing the Chicken Long Rice or Squid Luau was good! Everything else on the plate was very good to excellent!

For lots more photos where that’s coming from, check out the full gallery of the Seabury Hall 2013 graduation luau, as well as a few photos of surrounding Makawao here…

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5 thoughts on “Makawao Eats: Seabury Hall 2013 Graduation Luau

  • June 27, 2013 at 6:17 am

    There is no broccoli in luau. lol. And I would prefer the Hawaiian sweet potato which is much moister than the Okinawan. But I appear to be in the minority in that regard. One of my sisters went to Seabury. I went to Hawaii Prep. Of course was much cheaper in those days.

  • June 27, 2013 at 6:21 am

    All my relatives remember a terrific family restaurant on Piikoi called Red Rooster, that served the greatest Chinese dishes:

    Whole winter melon with the tasty soup loaded with chicken, black mushrooms, ham, etc served inside the melon.
    Chicken lollipops
    Roast duck with the crispiest skin and with the beans that are served on the side,
    Duck stuffed with chestnuts and barley
    Or duck stuffed with jai, yum!
    Kau yuk with taro
    Sweet sour deep fried whole fish where the fish was presented upright in the dish.
    Platters of jellyfish charsiu duck etc
    Platter of chicken, Chinese ham, black mushrooms, and green vegetable
    Deep fried crispy skin chicken with tons of shrimp chips
    Steamed pork with salted fish

  • June 27, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    That is a beautiful campus for sure…great photos!

  • June 28, 2013 at 5:45 am

    @ Ann – Meh, they’re alright for a phone camera. Not too happy with the macro shots though. Way too noisy. I need to experiment with the Note II’s camera settings more. Still looking for a replacement of my broken S95. Got one in mind.

    @ Alice – Well, Piikoi and Young Street are 2 islands and sea channels away from Olinda Road, but thanks for sharing all the tasty memories of Red Rooster! Gotta’ say, I’m intrigued about the Jellyfish Charsiu Duck.

    Lobster King (a Chinese restaurant) on King and Koreamoku has a Marinated Cold Jelly Fish dish on their menu. They’ve also got some other “Bizarre Foods worthy” stuff, such as Deep-fried Intestines, Deep-Fried Pigeon, Goose Intestine, and of course Frog, prepared in a number of ways. Mm-mm-mm, doesn’t that all sound DELICIOUS?!

    @ pat – I’m OK with a Luau that blends other types of cuisine with traditional Hawaiian foods, but you’re right, at least make it fitting, and not way out there. The Mahimahi with lemon caper sauce and teriyaki chicken surprisingly blended in quite well with the taste of the Hawaiian Food. The Caesar Salad was a bit “out there”, but still, always good to have greens on the plate. But yeah, the steamed broccoli was definitely one of them “Sesame Street moments”, where “one of these foods are not like the others”. Like TOTALLY not like the others. Don’t get me wrong, broccoli is by far one of my favorite veggies, but it just didn’t fit here.

    Really though, I’m more of a traditionalist where, if I had a say in the planning, a Luau should stick strictly with Hawaiian food, as that’s the whole point of being called a Luau. It’s a Hawaiian party. Unless we’re talking Luau “themed” party, then that’s another story. Otherwise just call it a party.

    In a “perfect Luau world” (because, you know it’s possible!), there’d be Kalua Pig, laulau, squid luau, chicken long rice, sweet potato, pipikaula, lomi salmon, dry aku, poke, raw crab, opihi, raw onion with Hawaiian Salt & Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water, and of course poi, with Haupia and fresh fruit for dessert. That’s it. Nothing else. But hey, now I’m dreaming! Oh, wait, I was at Highway Inn. lol

    Still, all things considered, including the guest list and of course budget, save for the steamed broccoli, they did a good job in planning and execution of the food for this event.

    I’m just thankful they in fact had Poi. Whew!

  • June 28, 2013 at 6:57 am

    @ Ann – Still trying to figure out the best settings on MY Note II. In the mean time, searching for a replacement of my broken S95 still camera. Considering the Panasonic DMC-LX7 or Canon S100.


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