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Chef-Farmer Partnerships Featured at Hamakua Alive!

Written by Sonia R. Martinez on 23 November 2010.

The 4th Annual Hamakua Alive! Festival was held on Saturday, October 23, 2010, just outside Honoka'a.
The 4th Annual Hamakua Alive! Festival was held on Saturday, October 23, 2010, just outside Honoka'a.
For the first time since its beginning, the 4th annual Hamakua Alive! Festival was held at a new location. Sponsored by The Tom Kadooka Foundation, the festival was held in the beautiful Pa’auhau Community Park just outside Honoka’a. Farmer-vendor displays, cooking contests, games, music by John Keawe and Cyril Pahinui, and lots of ono food tastings were just some of the Hamakua Alive! activities on Saturday, October 23, 2010. Jim and Tracy Reddekopp, owners of the Hawaiian Vanilla Company, formed the Tom Kadooka Foundation to honor the man, his family and his life’s work in developing Hawai’i-grown vanilla. The foundation has become a vehicle to give back to the agricultural community. 

The main focus of the event is to celebrate the bounty of the region and to that effect several chefs get paired off with purveyors to offer delicious dishes prepared using locally grown food throughout the day.

The chefs of the Four Seasons at Hualalai Resort paired off with the Tom Kadooka Foundation serving Hamburger sliders – all made with locally raised beef, tomatoes, lettuce and onions.

Chef Casey Halpern of Café Pesto paired off with the Hamakua Heritage Mushroom Farm owned by Bob and Janice Stanga, serving Mushroom Poke.
The festival was enjoyed by all.
The festival was enjoyed by all.

Executive Chef James Ortiaga of the Canoe House at the Mauna Lani Resort paired off with Kula Kahiko Farms LLC and owners Dennis and Elizabeth Dacus, presenting a stunning menu taking advantage of locally raised eggs, pork and grass finished beef; locally grown greens, mushrooms and vegetables and bread made by the Mamame Bakery in Honoka’a.

The cooking contest has been a big draw from the first festival. This year, more emphasis was placed on the use of local ingredients and to encourage it, entrants were told the best use of locally grown products in their recipe would count towards 50% of the total score; 20% on taste, 15% for originality using local products and 10% for presentation of the entry.

Cooking contest judges were Executive Chef James Babian of the Four Seasons Hualalai serving as head judge; Executive Chef Casey Halpern of Café Pesto in downtown Hilo and Executive Chef James Ortiaga of Canoe House at the Mauna Lani. Chef Jacob Anaya of the Four Seasons filled in for Chef Ortiaga. Sonia R. Martinez served as coordinator of the entries and judges.

Next year’s Hamakua Alive!, which will have a Harvest Time theme, has been set for Saturday, October 29.

Sonia Martinez, the Hawai'i Homegrown Food Network regular farmers market reporter, is a cookbook author and freelance food writer for several publications in Hawai'i, including The Hamakua Times of Honoka’a. She is a contributing writer for Edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine and has her own food & garden blog at soniatasteshawaii.com