The fifth-annual Big Island Chocolate Festival will be held May 13-14, 2016 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on the Kohala Coast. Presented by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), the festival’s many activities include seminars, demonstrations, farm tours, a student chef competition, and a professionally judged taste off competition. The highlight of the festival is a gala fundraiser and silent auction on Saturday, May 14, from 5:30 – 9 p.m.
This year the chocolate festival’s theme is “Lavalicious-A Chocolate Salute to the 100th Birthday of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park” in honor of the centennial anniversary of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Culinary booths at Saturday’s gala will be judged on how they best depict the event theme that could include Mauna Loa and Kīlauea volcanoes, Hawaiian culture, and/or the native plants and animals that thrive in the park.
All festival seminars will be held at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on Friday, May 13, and a farm tour of the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory in Kailua-Kona will be held on Friday May 13, from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
One of the most popular food festivals on the Big Island, the event has grown tremendously in its first five years attracting top chocolatiers and chefs from around the country.
Among the confirmed seminar speakers is Chef Derek Poirier, Ecole Valrhona Pastry Chef Western USA, who was named one of the top ten pastry chefs in the country in 2014. The seminars and demonstrations are excellent opportunities to learn about the growing cacao industry on Hawaii Island, as well as tips on preparing sweet and savory chocolate dishes and drinks.
During the gala participating chefs, chocolatiers and confectioners will compete in a free culinary competition, vying in a variety of “best” judged categories: bonbon, savory, bean-to-bar, plated dessert, Hawaiian cacao, sweet people’s choice, savory people’s choice and best decorated booth. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando will judge the booth theme contest. Members of the winning culinary station will receive four tri-park passes good for free entrance to all three, fee-charging national parks in Hawai‘i for an entire year: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Haleakala National Park and Pu‘uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park.
Proceeds from the benefit are currently split between the Kona Pacific Public Charter School and the Kona Kohala Chef’s Association for scholarship funds for the new Hawaii Community College-Palamanui.
Tickets for all four Friday seminars are $75 in advance; $30 for each seminar at the door.
Early bird tickets for the gala are available for $65 until March 15 or when they sell out. General admission to the gala is $75. Room and ticket packages are also available for $375.
For more information on the Big Island Chocolate Festival or to purchase tickets, go to http://www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com.