World-Class Pastry Chefs and Cacao Experts at the Big Island Chocolate Festival

Make chocolate from scratch. Get the insider scoop on growing cacao—the bean needed to make chocolate—and find out why it must be fermented properly. See how to make chocolate dessert sensations—and taste them— by the nation’s leading pastry chefs.

Big Island Chocolate Festival 020All these compelling educational offerings are part of the fourth Big Island Chocolate Festival May 7-9 at various West Hawai‘i venues. The fun demonstrations and informative seminars lead up to the festival gala 5:30 p.m. May 9 at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i.

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.

Here’s a quick rundown of activities:

Thursday, May 7

  • 9 a.m.-noon: Chocolate-Making Class. Una Greenaway instructs participants on how to make chocolate at her Kuaiwi Farm in Captain Cook, $50. Register at 808-328-8888.

Friday, May 8

The following four activities are at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai’i; $75 for all in advance or $30 at the door individually. Tix at

  • Noon-12:45 p.m. Seminar: “Cacao Fermentation & Chocolate Micro-Terroir.” Dr. Nat Bletter of Madre Chocolate tells why fermenting is the most important step for determining flavor in tree-to-bar chocolate making.
  • 1-1:50 p.m. Seminar: “Hawai‘i Cacao Farming-Tree to Bar.” Presenters Tom Menezes of Hawaiian Crown Hilo and Una Greenaway of Kona’s Kuaiwi Farms discuss plant varieties and where to get them, how to plant and where, plus current business opportunities for Hawaiian-grown cacao.
  • 2-3:30 p.m. Demonstration with Tasting: “How to Make Your Own Decadent (but Simple) Chocolate Dessert Creation.” Derek Poirier, Valrhona Pastry Chef Western USA, gives step-by-step instruction to make Tarte Baba Cool. An international pastry competitor, Poirier develops recipes and teaches master classes for the famed L’Ecole du Grand Chocolate in France.
  • 3:30-5 p.m. Demonstration with Tasting: “How to Make Your Own Decadent (but Simple) Chocolate Dessert Creation.” Stanton Ho, “Top 10 Pastry Chef in America 1994- 1995,” shows how to concoct a chocolate/coconut/salted caramel dessert called Cocoa Puffs.
    Pastry Chef Stanton

    Pastry Chef Stanton Ho

    After seeing Chef Ho in action, you’ll know why the Hawai‘i native was named Pastry Chef of the Millennium by Paris Gourmet in 2000.

Saturday, May 9

  • 9-11 a.m.: Cacao Farm Tour. Take a cacao farm and soap factory tour at Kona’s Kokoleka Lani Farm to see how cacao is grown and used in the production of Kona Natural Soap Company products, $25. Tix at

Chocolate decadence culminates 5:30-9 p.m. May 9 with the festival gala in the Fairmont’s Grand Ballroom. Taste sweet and savory creations by chefs, chocolatiers, confectioners and beverage purveyors, plus vote for the People’s Choice Award. Also on tap will be fine wines and handcrafted ales, chocolate sculptures, chocolate body painting, entertainment and a silent auction.

Gala admission is $75 with VIP tickets for $100. Tix info at Find festival updates on facebook and Twitter, #BIChocoFest. Questions? Phone 808-324-6100.

Special room rates of $299 including breakfast for two are offered 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

Hawaii State Lawmakers Star in “Capitol Idol III” – Talent Show Raises Money for the Hawai‘i Foodbank

Brave members of the Legislative and Executive branches of our state government will showcase their hidden talents when they take the stage for a good cause.


Capitol Idol III kicks off on Monday, April 20 from 5-7 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium. The public is invited to the show where members of the Senate and the Ige Administration vie for the audience’s support in the hopes of winning the perpetual individual and team trophies, not to mention major bragging rights. This year’s show will be emceed by radio show host, actor and former State Representative Devon Nekoba.

The event is FREE, but state employees will be voting for their favorite acts by purchasing $1 for a scrip worth one vote. Per the State Ethics Commission, only state employees can purchase scrip. The winner of Capitol Idol III will be the act with the most votes (scrip). There is no limit to the number of scrip a state employee can purchase.

In 2012, Capitol Idol raised $1400 for the Hawai‘i Foodbank and in 2014, $1700 was collected. “This is the time of the year when my fellow colleagues voluntarily offer themselves up for public scrutiny and possible embarrassment all to support an incredibly important agency in our community, the Hawai‘i Foodbank,” said Senator Mike Gabbard, the show’s organizer. “We want to encourage everyone to join us in supporting this worthy cause and have a good time smiling and laughing with us as well.”

Past performances have been a lineup of Legislators singing original songs, juggling, dancing hula and more.  Previous winners have been Representative Marcus Oshiro dressed in drag, dancing and belting out “I Will Survive” and Blake “Disco” Oshiro of the Governor’s office. With his Executive branch dancers, Oshiro stole the show last year.

So who will be the next champion in Capitol Idol III?  Join us to find out!