Big Island Chocolate Festival Announces Activities

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The Big Island Chocolate Festival is set for April 27 and 28 at the Hapuna Beach Resort.  All activities will be at the resort except for the plantation tour.

Friday April 27

  • 11 a.m. to noon: Plantation Tour at Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory in Keauhou. Visit the nation’s first tree-to-bar chocolate operation to see cacao growing on trees and how it’s processed. Hear about the chocolate-making process and enjoy samples, $25 fee donated to festival’s five beneficiaries.

Cacao Farming Seminars: $40 fee provides entry into all three farming seminars:

  • 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. “The Art and Craft of Cacao Fermentation” by Dr. Nat Bletter of O‘ahu’s Madre Chocolate. The “flavormeister” at Madre, Bletter has 15 years of experience in botany, which resulted in him formulating the high-antioxidant and artisanal chocolates offered by Madre. Find out why fermenting is the most important step for determining flavor in tree-to-bar chocolate making.
  • 11 to 11:30 a.m. Best Hawai‘i Cacao Drying Practices in Humid Climates by Susan Bassett of Mauna Kea Cacao. Mauna Kea Cacao produces award-winning cacao seeds (beans) on the Hamakua Coast for bean-to-bar chocolatiers and Bassett has a master’s degree in biological and agricultural engineering. Learn how to optimize sunlight, heat and air flow to fully dry cacao and optimize its flavor profile.
  • 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. “Cacao Farming 101” by Tom Sharkey of Hilo Sharks Chocolate. Sharkey is a farmer, educator and businessman who grows and processes cacao on his Hamakua Coast farm just north of Hilo.
  • 5 to 6:30 p.m.: Chocolate & Organic Tequila Pairings. $40 each or $65 for two. Tattoo Tequila’s John Atanasio does the unexpected, showing how different, organic tequilas and uniquely flavored chocolates can tastefully complement each other. A limited number of attendees get to taste and see for themselves! Chocolate presented by Farsheed Bonakdar of the Cocoa Outlet.

Saturday, April 28

Chocolate Culinary Demonstrations, $75 for all or $35 each at the door:

  • 9:30 to 11 a.m. Demonstration: “Taste the Gold” by Alicia Boada, the West Coast Technical Advisor for Barry Callebaut Chocolate, whose brands include Cacao Barry, Callebaut and Mona Lisa. Join Boada as she creates a dessert introducing Callebaut Finest Belgian Chocolate Gold—an intense, yet well-balanced caramel chocolate—with rich notes of toffee, butter, cream and a dash of salt. Gold has a unique, warm caramel and pale amber color, with a golden hue. Paired with hints of apricot, pumpkin pépites and sunflower seeds, this dessert will set the stage to impress! Boada is a highly credentialed culinarian, being certified as an executive pastry chef, culinary educator and culinary administrator by the American Culinary Federation.
  • 11:15 to 12:45 p.m. Demonstration: “Creating Artistic Chocolate Flowers” by Stéphane Tréand MOF of The Pastry School. Chef offers tips on how to add artistic flair to your chocolate creations. Tréand’s prestigious Pastry School in California instructs students of all abilities in the pastry and baking arts.
  • 1 to 2:30 p.m.  “Creating an Artistic Chocolate Showpiece.”  Chefs Alicia Boada and Stéphane Tréand team up to complete a beautiful chocolate showpiece designed to present your desserts as a buffet centerpiece.

Also available is the Saturday I LOVE Chocolate! all-day pass for culinary demos and gala priced at $145.


Chocolate decadence culminates 5 to 9 p.m. April 28 with the festival gala at the Hapuna Beach Resort. Taste sweet and savory creations by chefs, chocolatiers, confectioners and beverage purveyors, plus vote for the People’s Choice Awards. Also on tap will be unlimited pours of fine wines, specialty cocktails and handcrafted ales, chocolate body painting, entertainment and a silent auction. Tickets are available online: https://bigislandchocolatefestival.com/tickets/.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), 2018 Big Island Chocolate Festival proceeds will benefit Hawai’i Institute of Pacific Agriculture, University of Hawai‘i Maui College’s Culinary Arts Program, Waimea Country School, and founding event organizations Kona Pacific Public Charter School and Kona Dance & Performing Arts.

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 2018 event sponsors: Big Island Honda, Cacao Berry, Callebaut, Clark Realty Corporation, Cocoa Outlet, Coconut Wireless Weekly, DHX, Guittard Chocolate Company, Hapuna Beach Resort, Hawai‘i Coffee Connection, Hawai‘i Community Federal Credit Union, HFM Foodservice, Island Asphalt Maintenance, Keauhou Veterinary Hospital, Kona Auto Center, Kona Brewing Company, Mehana Brewing Company, Office Max, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Power Self Storage, Prova, Republica Del Cacao, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Tattoo Tequila, The Spoon Shop, Valrhona USA, Waialua Estate Coffee & Chocolate, What to Do Media and The Wave@92FM.


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