Big Island Chocolate Festival Set for April 26 & 27

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The Big Island Chocolate Festival (BICF) is coming up on Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27, 2019.

With the exception of a guided cacao plantation tour, all activities will be held at The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort.

Find out more about chocolate—tricks for using it in the kitchen and how to better grow cacao—the tree that produces the coveted cocoa bean.

Friday April 26

• 8:30–9:30 a.m.: 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 beneficiaries.

• 10 a.m.–2 p.m.: College Culinary Student Competition. Students from UH-Maui and UH-Palamanui perform as teams to create dishes using chocolate.


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

• 1–1:45 p.m. “Get Rid of What’s Bugging You” by Eli Isele, UH-CTAHR assistant extension agent for sustainable edible crops production. Based out of the Komohana Research and Education Center in Hilo, Isele works with organic and sustainable growers of cacao, macadamia nuts, breadfruit, taro and vegetables. He will address pest management of the Chinese Rose Beetle Adoretus sinicus, which feasts on young cacao leaves, and share the results of the recent Hawai‘i Cacao Survey.

• 2–2:45 p.m. “Cacao Research Updates” by Dr. Alyssa Cho, UH-CTAHR assistant researcher in sustainable farming systems. Also based at the Komohana Research Center at UH-Hilo, Dr. Cho works closely with growers and industry organizations and leads projects involving cacao post-harvest handling and processing, propagation and varietal evaluation.

• 3–3:45 p.m. “Making Chocolate Seed to Tree to Bean to Bar in Hawaii.” Dr. Nat Bletter of Oahu’s Madre Chocolate covers cultivation and fermentation while focusing on chocolate production so attendees can get all the value from their crops while honoring the terroir of where it is grown. The founder of Madre and an ethnobotanist, Bletter researched equatorial medicinal plants such as cacao, which spurred him to start a traditional-ingredient, high-antioxidant and artisanal chocolate company.

• 5:30–7:30 p.m.: Chocolate & Organic Tequila Pairings. $50 each or $85 for two. Tattoo Tequila’s John Atanasio does the unexpected, showing how three different, organic tequilas and uniquely flavored chocolates can tastefully complement each other. A limited number of attendees get to taste and see for themselves—and enjoy pupus! Decadent chocolate bonbons are presented by Farsheed Bonakdar of the Cocoa Outlet.


Saturday, April 27

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

• 9:30–11 a.m. Demonstration: “Wow Guests with this Plated Dessert” by David Brown, chef instructor at Oahu’s Kapiolani Community College. Chef will create Hawaiian Kokoleka, a panna cotta with milk chocolate ice cream, exotic cacao nib consommé and fried lychee. A 40-year-pastry professional, Brown served for two decades as executive pastry chef at the Hilton Waikoloa Village and then was the chef/owner of a Waikoloa Beach Resort restaurant. During this time, he competed in national and international culinary salons, where he earned a spot on the 1993 U.S. Coupe du Monde event in France. Prior to coming to Hawaii, he was a pastry chef for the Hyatt Hotel Corp.

• 11:15–12:45 p.m. Demonstration: “Chocolate Crystallization using Couvertures” 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 highlights the importance of proper crystallization through tempering methods, with contemporary tablet and mini bar applications. She will feature the Cacao Barry Pureté line of chocolate couvertures from sustainably sourced and 100% traceable cacao. Boada is a highly credentialed culinarian, being certified as an executive pastry chef, culinary educator and culinary administrator by the American Culinary Federation. She is also the founder of the Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence, the Academy Awards of Chicago’s culinary scene.

• 1–2:30 p.m. Demonstration: “Creating an Artistic Chocolate Sculpture” 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. The finished creation will be displayed at the BICF gala.


Also available is the Saturday I LOVE Chocolate! all-day pass for culinary demos and gala priced at $155.

Chocolate decadence culminates 5 to 9 p.m. April 27 with the festival gala at The Westin 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 for all are available here.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), the 2019 Big Island Chocolate Festival proceeds will benefit the culinary programs at Hawaii Community College Palamanui, Kealakehe High School, Hawai‘i Island High Schools and Maui Community College, plus Hawaii Institute of Pacific Agriculture, Waimea Country School, Kona Pacific Public Charter School’s West Hawaii Summer Lunch Program 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 2019 sponsors: Cacao Berry, Callebaut, The Coconut Wireless Weekly, Cocoa Outlet & The Chocolate Guy Hawaii, DHX, Guittard Chocolate Company, Hawaii Coffee Connection, Kona Business Center, Kona Brewing Company, Mehana Brewing Company, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Primavera Farm, Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits, Tattoo Tequila, Waialua Estate Coffee & Chocolate, The Wave and The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort.

FOLLOW: @BIChocoFest

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