Culinary entries from Maui and the Big Isle were tapped winners at last night’s Big Island Chocolate Festival gala. A sold-out crowd of 600 attendees sprawled inside and out of the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel for the sixth annual fundraiser to benefit four island non-profits.
The event theme “Worth Its Weight in Gold-The History of Chocolate” was depicted at culinary stations and the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai was tapped Best Decorated Booth.
Creations by chefs, chocolatiers, college and high school culinary students were critiqued on taste, texture, appearance and creativity by a team of celebrity judges at competitions during the two-day festival.
From Left: Big Island Chocolate Festival founder Farsheed Bonakdar presented the professional culinary winners with their plaques: Michelle Yamaguchi of Wailua Estate for Best Bean-to-Bar, Chef Dayne Tanabe of Hilton Waikoloa Village for Best Savory, Chef Donald Wressell of Guittard Chocolate Company for Best Plated Dessert and People’s Choice Best Sweet, Chef Eddie Enojardo for Best Bonbon and Chef Alan Heap, Mara Masuda and Albert Asuncion of Huggo’s for People Choice Best Savory.
Gala winners were Chef Dayne Tanabe of Hilton Waikoloa Village for Best Savory, Chef Donald Wressell of Guittard Chocolate Company for Best Plated Dessert, Chef Eddie Enojardo of Hilton Waikoloa Village for Best Bonbon and Michelle Yamaguchi of Wailua Estate for Best Bean-to- Bar Chocolate.
People’s Choice Awards went to Chef Alan Heap of Huggo’s for Best Savory and Guittard for Best Sweet. In the farm awards division, Gini Choobua of Likao Kula Farm earned Best Cacao while J. Bennett of Nine Fine Mynahs took Best Criollo.
Six high school culinary teams participated in the gala with Kea‘au High School winning first, followed by Waiakea in second and Konawaena in third. Three students earning culinary scholarships were Hannah Norman and Mina Acosta-Cabamungan of Waiakea and Rhoma Dai of Kea‘au.
For Friday’s college competition, UH-Maui College took first and second while UH-Palamanui came in third. Due to a mix up in the judging process, the incorrect winners were named during the gala and the judges later made the correction.
Photos by Kirk Shorte, Gini Choobua of Likao Kula Farm in Kona earned Best Cacao.
The team of judges for the various competitions were Chef Donald Wressell of Guittard Chocolate Company, Chef Alicia Boada of Cacao Barry, Paul Picton of Maverick Chocolate, Chef Elizabeth McDonald of B3 a Beach Bunny Bakery, Chef Ricky DeBoer of The Fairmont, Kea Lani; Chef Yoshikazu Kizu of Ritz Carlton Kapalua, Chef Teresa Shurilla of UH-Maui College, Chefs Connor Butler and Frank Kramm of the Kona Butcher Shop, Chef Krista Garcia of UH-Maui College, Chef Stephane Treand, Nat Bletter, Neal Campbell, Weston Yap, Paul Picton, Farsheed Bonakdar and Chef Bruce Trouyet of
From Left: High School scholarship winners included Hannah Norman and Mina Acosta-Cabamungan of Waiakea and Rhoma Dait of Kea‘au. Earning first place in the high school culinary division were students from Kea‘au High School. Students at Waiakea High School placed second in the high school culinary division. Taking third place in the high school culinary division was the Konawaena team.
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.
The real winners of the annual festival are the four beneficiaries: the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Assn., Kona Dance & Performing Arts, Kona Pacific Public Charter School and Waimea Country School’s Na Keiki Aloha ‘Aina.
Presented by the Kona Cacao Association, the Big Island Chocolate Festival not only heralds Hawai’i’s growing cacao industry, but also the professional and student culinarians who masterfully create foods featuring chocolate.
In addition to last night’s gala, the festival offered a full lineup of chocolate decadence from planting to plating: a Kona cacao farm tour, plus growing and processing seminars and how-to culinary demonstrations by chocolate industry experts.
The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. Mahalo to 2017 event sponsors:
Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, Guittard Chocolate Company, Prova, Valrohna USA, Cacao Barry, Barry Callebaut, ChoiceMART, Kona Auto Center, Dolphin Journeys, Original Hawaiian
Chocolate Factory, Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, Amoretti, Cocoa Outlet, Kona Brewing Company, Young’s Market, Waialua Estate Coffee & Chocolate, XPress Reprographics, The Spoon Shop, Island Asphalt Maintenance, DHX, Island Air, Republica Del Cacao, The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, Pivotal Shift Consulting Group, Hawaii Coffee Connection and TheWave@92FM. #BIChocoFest, #ChocolateGold