Big Island Chocolate Festival Names Culinary Winners!

Winners and judges of the BICF gala from left: Judge Ken Goto, Executive Fairmont Chef Hubert Des Marais, Daylight Mind Chef Connor Butler (kneeling) Pierre and Philippe Padovani of Padovani’s Chocolates, Hilton Waikoloa Village Chefs Eddie Enojardo and Dayne Tanabe, judge Vincent Bourdin, Nat Bletter of Madre Chocolate and judge Jacques Torres. Photo by Shortini Photography.

Culinary entries from across the state were tapped winners at last Saturday night’s Big Island Chocolate Festival. Chefs, chocolatiers and students were critiqued on taste, texture, appearance and creativity by a team of celebrity judges during the three-day festival.

The Winners of the Professional Judging Competition

Event host The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai’i tied with Daylight Mind Coffee Company for best savory creation served at last night’s gala. Padovani’s Chocolates took top bonbons. Earning number one plated dessert was the Hilton Waikoloa Village, which also won the People’s Choice Award. Madre Chocolate took the bean-to-bar category.

Culinary Student Competition 

Hawai‘i Community College-Hilo won Friday’s student competition, besting Maui Community College by a point. Hawai’i Community College-West Hawai’i Team 1 was close behind in third place.


Commenting on the college culinary competition, Chef Teresa (Cheech) Shurilla of Maui Community College shared, “Presenting in front of such an esteemed panel of judges is priceless. The students will keep their critiques with them throughout their culinary careers.”

Heading the team of judges for the two competitions were celebrity chefs “Mr. Chocolate” Jacques Torres of New York City and Valrhona Chocolate’s Vincent Bourdin of Singapore. Other team judges included chocolatier Ken Goto and pastry chefs Rhonda Ashton-Chavez of Four Seasons Resort Maui, Elizabeth McDonald of Mala Restaurant, Ricky DeBoer of The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui; Heather Campbell of Kaua‘i’s St. Regis Resort Princeville and Daniel Sampson of The Fairmont Orchid.

Head of School, Usha Kotner for KPPCS and instructor, Patti Kimball, for Equip the Kitchens Campaign.

Head of School, Usha Kotner for KPPCS and instructor, Patti Kimball, for Equip the Kitchens Campaign.

The real winners of the third annual festival are two beneficiaries: the Equip the Kitchens campaign for the future Hawai’i Community College-Palamanui and Kona Pacific Public Charter School.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association, the Big Island Chocolate Festival not only heralds Hawai’i’s growing cacao industry, but also the culinarians who masterfully create foods featuring chocolate.

In addition to last night’s gala, the three-day festival offered a full lineup of chocolate decadence from planting to plating: a Kona cacao farm tour, plus seminars, how-to culinary demonstrations and guided chocolate tastings.

Board members and Officers of the Kona Cacoa Association-Usha Kotner, Laurie Mattos, Fern Gavelek, Farsheed Bonakdar, Delania Branham and Julie Ziemelis

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. Mahalo to sponsors and community supporters: The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, Guittard, DeZaan, Valrhona, PreGel, The Wave-92.1, Big Island Honda and Tire Center, Bacardi, Dolphin Journeys, Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, Cocoa Outlet, Barry Callebaut Chocolate, Cacao Cucina, DHX, Gourmet Foods Hawaii, Johnson Brothers of Hawaii, Ke Ola magazine, Kona Brewing Company, Kona Natural Soap Company, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, West Hawaii Today, The Spoon Shop and Kamehameha Schools.

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