The Fairmont-Orchid, Hawaii swept the awards at the sold-out Big Island Chocolate Festival March 23. The Fairmont’s culinary team earned three “bests,” winning Best Savory and Best Sweet (plated dessert), and took the People’s Choice Award for their savory offering of a Cocoa-Dusted Spicy Ahi Cone with Orange Shiso Mayo, Truffle Orange Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese.
Other winners were Elena Chocolate for Best Bon Bon and Madre Chocolate for Best Bean to Bar. Twenty different chefs and chocolatiers vied in the festival taste-off that was critiqued by a team of eight judges. Besides indulging in tastes at the event’s culinary stations, attendees could get a chocolate “tattoo” and watch Guittard Executive Pastry Chef Donald Wressell put the finishing touches on a towering, 40-pound chocolate sculpture.
“All of the taste-off entries were spectacular and mahalo to all our culinary participants and celebrity judges,” said Farsheed Bonakdar. “We appreciate the support of the community—our attendees and volunteers—who made the evening a great success. A special mahalo to Chef Teresa (Cheech) Shurilla who created and facilitated the student competition.”
Taste-off judges included eight, off-island chefs: chocolate consultant Stanton Ho, George Mavrothalassitis of Chef Mavro restaurant, Bret Pafford of Gannon’s restaurant, Abigail Langlas of Cakeworks, Christopher Speere of the University of Hawaii Maui College, Rhonda Ashton-Chavez of Four Seasons Maui at Wailea, Orly Yadao of Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa and David Brown of Kapiolani Community College.
The sold-out event at The Fairmont-Orchid benefitted the $1 million “Equip the Kitchen” campaign for the future Hawaii Community College-Palamanui and efforts to build a community amphitheater at the Waldorf-inspired Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua.
Presented by the Kona Cacao Association, the gala was the culmination of three days of chocolate-inspired activities that included culinary and agriculture-related sessions and a college competition in chocolate desserts. Taking first place in the college competition, which was held earlier on Saturday, was University of Hawaii Maui College, followed by Hawaii Community College-West Hawaii and Hawaii Community College-East Hawaii.
The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of this new association is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawaii by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. Mahalo to 2013 BICF sponsors The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, Guittard Chocolate, Mahalo Broadcasting-The Wave, KKOA, LAVA 105, The Shops at Mauna Lani, Dolphin Journeys, Hawaii Coffee Connection, Johnson Brothers Distributors, West Hawaii Today, Waialua Estate Chocolate, Alex’s Westside Wines, Tinguely Development, BMW of Hawaii, Fair Wind-Big Island Ocean Guides, Barry Callebaut, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Gourmet Foods Hawaii, Cocoa Outlet and Kulana Foods. Info: www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com.