Chocoholics take note: On February 25 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Dole Cannery Shops, the Hawai'i Chocolate Festival makes its debut as the state's premier showcase of locally produced chocolate products. Presented by Special Events Hawaii in celebration of the State Legislature's declaration of February 2011 as 'Hawaiian-Grown Cacao Month', the festival is sponsored in part by Hawaii Tourism Authority, Honolulu Magazine, Lei Chic and Waialua Estate.
Your admission ticket ($20 in advance online and $25 at the door) not only gets you into the festival to browse, learn about and shop for all things chocolate, but it also is your passport to 10 chocolate samplings of your choice from some of the state's top chocolatiers.
Among those showcasing their products are established names in the business like Melanie Boudar (Sweet Paradise Chocolates) and Philippe Padovani (Padovani Chocolates) as well as the familiar Waialua Estate chocolate, Hawaiian Fudge Sauce, Malie Kai, Licious Dishes, Not Just Desserts and others.
Festival-goers also will discover new and little-known manufacturers like Madre Chocolate, Manoa Chocolates and Hawaii Island Gourmet, which blends chocolate with such ingredients as lilikoi, hibiscus and taro. From the neighbor islands, look for growers and manufacturers like Thomas Sharkey (Hilo Sharks Chocolate) and Pam and Bob Cooper (Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory), and as well as sampling of Maui Lavender Fudge Sauce.
Other tasty offerings will include Ono Pops' new chocolate popsicles, 360 Chocolate Vodka and Kona Brewing Company's new chocolate beer. Well-known chefs such as Ronnie Nasuti, former executive chef Roy's and now with Tiki's Grill and Bar, will feature tempting delights like layered parfait with velvety Hawaiian coffee panna cotta and a silky mousse created by blending local and imported chocolates topped with local strawberries and decorative tuille.
Between bites, one can browse vendor booths and shop for everything from chocolate pearls to chocolate orchids and visit the Chocolate Spa, Chocolate Garden and Coco Café & Tea House. Guest speakers and educational displays will share information about locally grown cacao and how it is transformed into chocolate. Iona Contemporary Dance Theatre will bring its own interpretations of 'chocolate fashion' and Jeff Peterson will provide musical entertainment. It all adds up to one sweet way to spend an afternoon!
The festival is a benefit for Halau O Na Pua Kukui, which also will perform at the event. For festival information and online ticket purchases click HERE! In conjunction with the festival, Special Events Hawaii has organized the Hawai'i Chocolate Festival Roadshow, a month-long series of events to be held at various locations in celebration of Hawaiian-Grown Cacao Month. Check the festival website for the Roadshow calendar listings.
Hawai'i is the only state in the U.S. currently growing cacao. The mission of the Hawai`i Chocolate Festival is to stimulate global interest in Hawai'i's emerging chocolate industry. The festival will partner with farmers, local business, educators and government to showcase and highlight chocolate products made exclusively from Hawaiian-grown cacao beans.