Big Island Chocolate Festival Schedule of Seminars/Demonstrations and Cacao Plantation Tour


Each year the Kona Cacao Association reaches out to professional cacao educators asking them to provide unique and helpful information to our local cacao farmers and producers. We also work to bring in professional chefs and chocolatiers to hold culinary demonstrations for the public to increase their skills and knowledge of cooking with chocolate. This year we have an excellent line up of presenters and are at the top of their game in the business. Join them and purchase your tickets today!

Cacao Plantation Tour:

Friday, May 13 at 11 am  – 12 pm

Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory tour will be held at the plantation located approximately five miles south of Kailua Kona. The tour is from 11 am-12 pm.

Does chocolate grow on trees? Find out on a farm tour at the nation’s first tree-to-bar chocolate plantation. Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory is the first to grow, hand-pick, sun-dry and process only Hawaii-grown cocoa beans into chocolate. Take a leisurely, one-hour walking tour of the orchard and factory in mauka Keauhou and sample OHCF’s own dark, milk and criollo handcrafted chocolate “plumerias.” Learn about every step in the chocolate making process, from growing the trees to molding each handmade, delicious bar.  Afterwards, visit the Chocolate Shoppe.

Learn moreCost is $25 per person with all proceeds benefiting the charities of the Festival.

 Get directions at the Factory website 

All farm and chocolate demonstration classes will be held at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in the break out rooms near the ballroom.

Cacao Farm Workshops:

Friday, May 13th 11 am- 2 pm

  • 11 a.m- 12:30 pm Seminar: “The Art and Craft of Cacao Fermentation” by Dr. Nat Bletter of O’ahu’s Madre Chocolate. Find out why fermenting is the most important step for determining flavor in tree-to-bar chocolate making.
  • 12:30 p.m-1 pm. Seminar: “Cacao Farming-From Bean to the Bank” by Dan O’Doherty of O’ahu’s Cacao Services Agriculture and Scientific Consulting. Learn about grafting, varietal selection, orchard planning and management, plus the economics of farm size.
  • 1 p.m. – 1:30 pm Seminar: “Creating A Bean to Bar Chocolate Making Company” Dylan Butterbaugh, founder of Manoa Chocolate Hawaii in Oahu.

Q&A of all speakers will occur from 1:30-2 pm

Tickets for all seminars are $40 in advance or $30 for each seminar at the door.


Culinary Demonstrations:

Saturday May 14th  9:30 am- 2 pm

  • 9:30-10:30 a.m. Demonstration with Tasting:  Derek Poirier- Valrohna Pastry Chef Western USA, will be presenting- “How to Make Ornate ChocolateFlower3Chocolate Flowers for Pastries”-Learn the art of making decorative chocolate flowers and get tips on “chocolate decorating made easy”. Ornate any dessert or cake. Derek will also share techniques about making a chocolate ganache. Learn from one of the top pastries chefs in the nation.
  • 10:45-11:45 a.m. Demonstration with Tasting: “How to Make An Elegant Dessert Full of Textures.” Derek Poirier will focus on the new Valrhona Azelia, the world’s first couverture that combines the indulgence of hazelnuts with milk chocolate. Learn how to create a chocolate dessert of textures, creamy and crunchy, but focusing on just two flavors: hazelnut and lemon. Also Derek will promote proper chocolate techniques and the ease of using Azelia, Valrhona’s newest chocolate. He will also be teaching how to create an “Azelia Microwave Sponge Cake”.

Noon-1 p.m. Demonstration with Tasting: “How to Taste Chocolate-And Enjoy Every Second” by Jacques Dahan, Chocolats Michel Cluizel- . Dahan is president of the American branch of Michel Cluizel, a family-owned, chocolate company originating in Normandy, that’s been in business since 1948. Dehan has been working with chocolate for 32 years and will guide attendees on how to use all five senses to best enjoy fine chocolate.


Learn how to make chocolate flowers!


Tickets for all three Saturday seminars are $75 in advance.  $35 for each at the door. Or purchase a “One Day Chocolate Pass” with all three demonstrations AND a ticket to the gala for $125.

We invite you to book your room at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel for both Friday and Saturday and mention the Big Island Chocolate Festival for room rates of only $225 inclusive!





Chef Derek PoiriDerek Poirierer was named as one of the top ten pastry chefs in the country in 2014. Chef Poirier, Ecole Valrhona Pastry Chef Western USA , brings his experience and skills honed in the top hotels of the US and Canada in his work with the French chocolate maker. He teaches and conducts demonstrations in restaurants, hotels and culinary schools throughout the US and Canada. He also develops recipes and teaches master classes attended by an international array of pastry chefs who travel to Valrhona’s famed L’Ecole du Grand Chocolat located in Tain l’Hermitage in the wine region of France’s Rhone Valley. He has represented the US and Canada in world pastry competitions.

Jacques Dahan, President of the American branch of Michel Cluizel, a family-owned business since 1948 working from beans to bars based in Damville, Normandy.JacquesDehan

In 1984, Jacques started working for Cacao Barry in the region of Paris. In 1994, he moved to the US where he became in charge of the Gourmet department of Cacao Barry. In 2004, the Michel Cluizel adventure started. In 2009, the company opened a store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. In 2010, the company moved to West Berlin, NJ where they opened a non-dairy kitchen manufacturing chocolate, pastries, and macarons. Since March 2013, Michel Cluizel opened the first Chocolatrium in America, offering chocolate lovers a unique chocolate experience.

DanOdohertyDan O’Doherty, owner of Cacao Services,Inc. based in Honolulu, is an agricultural and scientific consulting company that specifically focuses on cacao production systems. Dan is a world-class expert in numerous aspects of cacao, from starting farms to fermenting beans. After completing a bachelor’s of science in psychology and a master’s of science in botany, Dan has worked and studied cacao extensively as a University of Hawaii researcher and as a private consultant. Cacao Services’ mission is to foster the development of an economically viable and environmentally sustainable fine / flavor grade-cacao industry, and to establish meaningful connections between farmers and chocolate makers in Hawaii and across the globe.

Dr. Nat Bletter, co founder and flavormeister of Madre Chocolate, has 15 years of experience in botany, documenting exotic fruits and vegetables, gathering food in the wild, herbal and traditional medicine, and exploring Asia, South America, Central America, and Africa. He has a Ph.D. in Ethnobotany from the CiNatBletterty University of New York and New York Botanical Garden, where he researched medicinal plants of Peru, Mali, and the Guatemalan Mayans, ethnobotany, taste-modifying plants, and stimulant plants such as cacao, which has spurred him to start a traditional-ingredient, high-antioxidant, artisinal chocolate company Madre Chocolate. He will co-lead a culinary, medicinal plant, and music tour in Bali where he has spent many months exploring the landscape, music, fruits, food and medicine since 1994. He now works at University of Hawai’i Manoa researching plants and migration in Thailand and Laos, and making chocolate from scratch.

Dylan Butterbaugh-Founder, Manoa Chocolate Hawaii.