Big Island Chocolate Festival salutes Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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SOUTH KOHALA- It was a chocolate lover’s dream come true. A sold out crowd of 600 converged on the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel for the culmination gala of the 2016 Big Island Chocolate Festival Saturday night.

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SOUTH KOHALA- It was a chocolate lover’s dream come true. A sold out crowd of 600 converged on the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel for the culmination gala of the 2016 Big Island Chocolate Festival Saturday night.

“Lavalicious-A Chocolate Salute to the 100th Birthday of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park” was the festival theme and the event gala sported booths decorated with sugary lava, chocolate volcanoes, orchids and faux flames. The culinary station by Sweet Eatz was judged “Best Decorated” by HVNP’s Cindy Orlando, park superintendent and Jessica Ferracane, public affairs specialist.

Thirty-three chef entries vied for one of the category awards.

Winning the most culinary awards was Hilton Waikoloa Village led by Chef Dayne Tanabe for Best Savory and Chef Anna Hohenberger for Best Bonbon. The Hilton team also tied with Four Seasons Resort Hualalai for Best Sweet People’s Choice by Hilton Chef Eddie Enojardo and Hualalai’s Kalani Garcia.

Earning Best Plated Dessert was the Keolu Bake Shop at Hualalai Resort and Huggo’s took home People’s Choice Savory. Other accolades were won by Madre Chocolate for Best Bean-to-Bar, Nine Fine Mynahs Farm for Best Cacao and Likao Kula for Best Criollo Bean.

The student team of Yi Song and Diana Maciel Hernandez of the University of Hawaii-Maui College took first place in the Friday student competition. Taking second place was Jolynn Len and Stella Rainville of Hawaii Community College-Palamanui while third place went to Alicia Alcain and Tomi Salinger of Hawaii Community College-Palamanui.

Beneficiaries of the event and silent auction were the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Assn./University of Hawaii endowment fund for the culinary program at Hawaii Community College-Palamanui and programs at Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua.

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The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc.

Information on the 2017 Big Island Chocolate Festival: www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com.