Craving chocolate? Who doesn’t? The fourth annual Big Island Chocolate Festival delivers with an array of fun, elegant and taste-tempting activities, seminars and culinary adventures May 7-9. Most of the chocolatey goodness will be offered at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, but three new events take place at Kona farms.
Thursday, May 7: The festival lineup starts 9 a.m.-noon with a hands-on, chocolate-making class Thursday, May 7 by Una Greenaway at her Kuaiwi Farm in Captain Cook. Next up is a 5-9 p.m. farm-to-plate, chocolate-themed dinner at Kokoleka Lani cacao farm in Holualoa. Dubbed a “Chocolate Soiree,” the scrumptious, seven-course meal will be prepared by celebrity pastry chef Stanton Ho, Clayton Arakawa of the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows and Scott Hiraishi of The Feeding Leaf.
Friday, May 8: Find public culinary demonstrations and agriculture-themed seminars at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i starting at noon with “Cacao Fermentation and Chocolate Micro-Terroir” by Nat Bletter of Madre Chocolate. “Hawai‘i Cacao Farming-Tree-to-Bar” is presented 1 p.m. by Tom Menezes of Hawaiian Crown Hilo and Una Greenaway of Kuaiwi Farms. Learn “How to Make Your Own Decadent (but Simple) Chocolate Dessert Creation” during demonstrations by Ecole Valrhona Western USA Pastry Chef Derek Poirier at 2 p.m. and Chef Stanton Ho at 3:30 p.m. Geared for home cooks, each culinary seminar offers sampling.
Saturday, May 9: The festival moves 9 a.m. to Kokoleka Lani Farm to see how cacao is grown and used in the production of Kona Natural Soap Company products. Also during this time, statewide college food service students compete in a culinary competition using chocolate at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i. The contest is open to the public for viewing 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; come cheer on these future chefs! Winners of the annual contest will be announced that evening during the gala.
Chocolate fun culminates 5:30-9 p.m. in the Fairmont’s Grand Ballroom for the festival gala. Attendees can enjoy both savory and sweet chocolate cuisine by top island chefs, chocolatiers and confectioners while voting for their favorite culinary station. Diners can also visit the “all you can enjoy” mole and salad bars.
Also on tap will be fine wines and handcrafted ales, Bacardi cocktails, chocolate sculpting by Donald Wressell of Guittard Chocolate Company, chocolate body painting, a photo booth and a silent auction. Culinary tasting will be accompanied by harp and violin duo String Beings, followed by a disc jockey offering dance music from 8-9 p.m.
Presented by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), event proceeds benefit the “Equip the Kitchens” campaign for the future Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui and a capital campaign to build a community kitchen at the Waldorf-inspired Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua.
Find pricing details and ticket locations at www.BigIslandChocolateFestival.com. Gala admission is $75 with VIP tickets for $100. Purchase Friday seminars online as four classes for $75 or at the door individually at $30 each. The Kokoleka Lani Farm tour is $25. To book the $50 Kuaiwi Farm chocolate-making class, phone 808-328-8888. Purchase $125 Chocolate Soiree tickets, at http://bit.ly/ChocolateFarmToPlate.
Special room rates of $299 including breakfast for two are being offering by the Fairmont Orchid. For accommodations, book with the hotel at 808-885-2000 and mention “Big Island Chocolate Festival.”
The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. 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. For information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com.