By Lynn Beittel and Matt Binder, Visionary Video and Sherry Bracken
KEAUHOU, Hawaii: It was a good weekend for chocolate lovers on Hawaii Island.
The 9th Annual Kona Chocolate Festival was held on Saturday evening at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort. Although the threat of rain forced organizers to move things indoors, nobody seemed to mind once the chocolate tasting began.
The Kona Chocolate Festival brings together Hawai’i’s best chocolate, ice cream and candy makers for a night of chocolate decadence.
The Festival features some of the Big Island’s top chefs creating innovative chocolate creations for attendees to enjoy.
But the event is or than just chocolate, its a social extravaganza. The dance floor, busy with salsa dancing, was proof that this was not your normal food show.
The event presented by the Na’alehu Theater, and highlights what organizers say is the little known but important fact: chocolate – or cacao – is grown and processed on the Big Island.
Hawai’i’s history of growing cacao dates back to the 1800’s and it is now an integral component of Hawai’i’s diversified agriculture.
Organizers say Hawai’i is the only place in the United States where chocolate is made entirely from scratch, from growing the cacao trees and their pods, through processing the cacao nibs, to creating an all-Hawaiian
The festival included FREE educational symposiums on cacao farming, processing, commercial production, cooking and tasting.
The entire event culminates in the results of the taste-off.
The confectionery competition features awards in professional and amateur categories.
Entries are judged by selected local professional chefs.
As attendees enjoyed the party atmosphere, these three judges huddled in a quiet corner tasting all the entries.
The entries are rated in terms of the appearance, flavor (meaning taste, texture, and aroma), Creativity and originality.
By the end of the evening, the dance floor was cleared so the winners could be announced.
Tommy Bahama’s won first place for their truffle dish. And Kealakehe culinary students won the “People’s Choice Award” for their cake pops.
Organizers seemed to consider the festival a success.