2018 Seminar Schedule – New Schedule to be Finalized by March 2019

Don’t Miss our Cacao Seminars and Culinary Demos!
Learn Cacao Farming Techniques, How to Create Chocolate Confections, and Enjoy a Unique Cacao Farm Walking Tour

Cacao Plantation Tour

Friday, Apr 27th at 11:00 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.

Would you believe that chocolate grows on trees? Enjoy a cacao farm tour at the nation’s first tree-to-bar chocolate plantation. The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory was the first company to grow, hand-pick, sun-dry and process only Hawaii-grown cocoa beans into chocolate. It’s a beautifully scenic one-hour easy walking tour of the orchard and factory. 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 to see the range of final products.

Learn more. Investment is $25 per person with ALL proceeds benefiting the charities of the Festival.   Click here for directions at the Factory website

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

Cacao Farm Seminars
Friday, April 27th 9:30 am – 1 pm
  • 9:30 am -10:45 am: “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.

    11:00 am- 11:30 am:  “Best Hawaii Cacao Drying Practices in Humid Climates” by Susan Bassett, of Mauna Kea Cacao LLC. Learn how to optimize sunlight, heat, and air flow to fully dry cacao and optimize its flavor profile.

    11:45 - 1:00 pm: “Cacao Farming 101” by Tom Sharkey of Hilo Sharks Chocolate. Learn cacao farming basics as well as tips and techniques of growing and harvesting healthy pods. Sharkey is a farmer, educator and businessman who grows and processes cacao on his Hamakua Coast farm just north of Hilo.  

Tickets for ALL farming seminars are $40 in advance or $30 EACH seminar at the door (save $50 by buying ahead).

Chocolate Culinary Demonstrations
Saturday, April 28th 9:30 am – 2:30 pm
  • 9:30-11 a.m. Demonstration: Taste the Gold. Become inspired by Chef Alicia Boada’s latest exciting recipe for chefs and chocolate lovers! Join her as she creates a dessert introducing Callebaut Finest Belgian Chocolate Gold —intense yet well-balanced caramel chocolate, with rich notes of toffee, butter, cream and an exciting dash of salt.
  • 11:15-12:45 p.m. Demonstration by Chef Alicia Boada. This unique opportunity to enjoy a second demonstration with Chef Boada will showcase more chocolate dessert making skills and techniques. Q & A to follow.
  • 1-2:30 p.m. Demonstration by Stéphane Tréand MOF. Stéphane Tréand MOF of The Pastry School 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.

Tickets for ALL three Saturday seminars are $75 in advance.  $35 for each at the door. Or purchase an “I LOVE CHOCOLATE!” All Day Pass”  which includes all three demonstrations AND a ticket to the gala: $145  (save almost $45!).


Stéphane Tréand MOF, and owner of The Pastry School, is a 40+ year veteran of the food industry, Stéphane Tréand’s pastry journey began in Northern France when his father sent him to work at the local bakery. Stéphane held a variety of positions at several bakeries and pastry shops in the Paris area where he learned all of the fundamental basics of French pastry and bakery. In 1989, Stéphane opened his own patisserie tearoom “Pâtisserie Tréand”, located in Brignoles in Provence, South of France. Already a food lover, he focused on the quality products.

In 2001 Stéphane sold his patisserie in order to devote more time to teaching and to pursue his lifetime dream of achieving the title of M.O.F., (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) “Best Craftman in France” which he achieved in 2004. The title of M.O.F. is the highest honor given by the President of France to a professional in an individual trade. Stéphane is currently the owner of The Pastry School in Costa Mesa, California where he teaches the art of pastry, confection and more.

Alicia Boada, West Coast Technical Advisor for Barry Callebaut Chocolate, brings passion for chocolate, from the contemporary entremet to cakes and chocolate showpieces, this wide-ranging knowledge of pastry has led her to her most recent role as Barry Callebaut’s West Coast Technical Consultant for the Chocolate Academy USA. Boada’s formal training began in 1992 in Chicago, where she attended the Culinary School of Kendall College. Since then, Boada has moved worldwide apprenticing under Master Pastry Chefs and Master Confectioners. After honing her skills, she returned to settle in the US working in NY, LA and Chicago.

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 City 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.

Susan Bassett, owner of Mauna Kea Cacao, grows and processes award-winning cacao on her Hamakua Coast farm on Hawaii Island. Susan combines engineering knowledge with observation of the natural environment to optimize cacao drying structures and management practices in a climate with more than 120 inches of rain per year. With a BS in chemical engineering and a Master of Engineering in Biological and Agricultural Engineering, she understands how to balance sunlight, heat, and air flow to fully realize Hawaiian cacao’s flavor potential. Susan explains best management practices to cacao farmers seeking to achieve the high quality needed to obtain a premium price for their cacao. A single estate chocolate bar made from Mauna Kea Cacao beans won the 2018 Good Food Award for chocolate.

Tom Sharkey is the owner of Hilo Sharks Coffee and Hilo Sharks Chocolate. Tom is  a farmer, educator and local businessman who grows and processes cacao on his Hamakua Coast farm just north of Hilo.  Tom will share his decades-long knowledge of cacao farming in a "Farming 101" interactive Q & A.