Show 570, March 23, 2024: Big Island Chocolate Festival, Hawaii with Farsheed Bonakdar Part One

Farsheed Bonakdar of Cocoa Outlet and Andy Harris

“Indulge in a world of tempting sweetness at the 11th Annual Big Island Chocolate Festival (BICF) in Hawaii presented by the Kona Cacao Association, taking place on April 26-27, 2024, at the beautiful beach-front Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on the Big Island of Hawaii.”

“The BICF promises unforgettable experience filled with chocolate cooking demonstrations, cacao growing presentations, and the most festive gala of all galas! This year the theme is ‘Mystical Chocolate Masquerade’ and guests are encouraged to dress up, wear masks and get creative to win tickets to 2025 event. Picture a venue adorned with rich colors, luxurious velvet, and opulent gold accents, creating the perfect backdrop for an evening of sweet enchantment.”

“The Festival encores their beloved gala setup with even more tantalizing food booths outside and inside this stunning venue. The 2024 Gala evening event, on Saturday, April 27, 2024, promises unlimited tastings at 15 to 18 chef created food stations featuring delectable sweet and savory offerings, along with unlimited beer and wine pours from the Festival’s generous sponsors. Awards are given to the participating chefs as judged in various categories so this is a friendly, but highly competitive, competition!”

“Enjoy the rhythmic beats of a lively DJ or live music, explore a fabulous silent auction, and immerse yourself in all-around extravagant chocolate-themed fun. Don’t miss the chance to make your life even decadently sweeter by joining The 11th Big Island Chocolate Festival at the most savored Hawaii-based event of the year!”

“The mission at the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. (the Presenters of The Big Island Chocolate Festival) is to cultivate the Big Island’s cacao industry, making the festival an educational beacon for cacao farmers, the hospitality sector, and chocolate enthusiasts alike.”

Farsheed Bonakdar, President of the organizing Kona Cacao Association joins us with a ripe cacao pod in hand.

Show 570, March 23, 2024: Big Island Chocolate Festival, Hawaii with Farsheed Bonakdar Part Two

Farsheed Bonakdar of the Kona Cacao Association

“Indulge in a world of tempting sweetness at the 11th Annual Big Island Chocolate Festival (BICF) in Hawaii presented by the Kona Cacao Association, taking place on April 26-27, 2024, at the beautiful beach-front Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on the Big Island of Hawaii.”

“The BICF promises unforgettable experience filled with chocolate cooking demonstrations, cacao growing presentations, and the most festive gala of all galas! This year the theme is ‘Mystical Chocolate Masquerade’ and guests are encouraged to dress up, wear masks and get creative to win tickets to 2025 event. Picture a venue adorned with rich colors, luxurious velvet, and opulent gold accents, creating the perfect backdrop for an evening of sweet enchantment.”

“The Festival encores their beloved gala setup with even more tantalizing food booths outside and inside this stunning venue. The 2024 Gala evening event, on Saturday, April 27, 2024, promises unlimited tastings at 15 to 18 chef created food stations featuring delectable sweet and savory offerings, along with unlimited beer and wine pours from the Festival’s generous sponsors. Awards are given to the participating chefs as judged in various categories so this is a friendly, but highly competitive, competition!”

“Enjoy the rhythmic beats of a lively DJ or live music, explore a fabulous silent auction, and immerse yourself in all-around extravagant chocolate-themed fun. Don’t miss the chance to make your life even decadently sweeter by joining The 11th Big Island Chocolate Festival at the most savored Hawaii-based event of the year!”

“The mission at the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. (the Presenters of The Big Island Chocolate Festival) is to cultivate the Big Island’s cacao industry, making the festival an educational beacon for cacao farmers, the hospitality sector, and chocolate enthusiasts alike.”

Farsheed Bonakdar, President of the organizing Kona Cacao Association continues with a ripe cacao pod in hand.

Show 559, January 6, 2024: Kohala Food Hub and Mauna Kea Resort, Hawaii Island

Maya Parish of Kohala Food Lab

A new collaboration between the Mauna Kea Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii and the Kohala Food Hub (KFH) is stepping up the use of food grown by Kohala farmers.

“The Hāwī-based KFH aggregates and markets food for small and mid-scale farmers who use regenerative and organic management practices. The fresh food is sold to island resorts, restaurants and residents who purchase a weekly Multi-Farm CSA subscription or buy food through KFH’s Online Marketplace.”

“I think there’s a special bond between Mauna Kea Resort and the Kohala community due to our proximity and that a large number of Kohala residents work at the resort, says Maya Parish, director of KFH.”

“On the food hub’s end, our goals are to create consistent standing resort orders that our farmers can count on and plant out for,” details Parish. “This will stimulate more regional food production, increasing revenue for our farmers and providing consistent quality and volume that the resort can depend on.”

“In addition, another identified goal includes providing an example to other resorts in the Kona and Kohala Districts to also “join more deeply” in supporting locally based farmers with their significant collective purchasing power.”

Todd Oldham of Mauna Kea Resort

“We were always heavy into purchasing local but it seemed after COVID, we had to do everything in our power to strengthen food security and the way we can do that is though our dollars,” notes Todd Oldham, Mauna Kea Resort food and beverage director. “When we buy local products, the money stays here and helps someone keep their land and expand to grow more food.”

“Oldham, a former chef who grew up with an agricultural background in Pennsylvania, shares a resort mission is to increase the use of local food. “It’s not just a verbal think; we do strategy sessions on how to increase local food usage, what steps we need to take and the initiatives needed.”

“With the collaboration starting in August, Mauna Kea Resort is currently purchasing around 450 pounds of produce weekly from KFH, initially using what farmers already had growing—grapefruit, dragon fruit, navel oranges, starfruit, bananas, green leaf and romaine lettuces. Now KFH is asking its farmer network to plant out crops specifically to supply the resort’s stated needs—carrots, eggplant, broccoli, cabbage and green beans— while negotiating price points that work for all.”

KFH’s Maya Parish and Mauna Kea Resort’s Todd Oldham join us with all the specifics of the important effort.

Show 532, July 1, 2023: Dewlson Family Farm, Santa Maria with Judy Paulson Part One

Judy Paulson of Dewlson Family Farm

Dewlson Family Farm in Santa Maria in the Santa Maria Valley is the “retirement project” of active husband and wife, (first generation farmers) Ron Dewey and Judy Paulson. Both are retired from long careers with the Navy. It’s a family-owned, working farm established in 2010 designed to be an “Oasis of Experience” where people come to explore, learn, and relax. On the Farm Ron & Judy grow Lisbon Lemons, five varieties of premium Arabica coffee beans sourced from The Big Island of Hawaii and three varieties of tea from renowned regions of China.

Currently visits are by appointment only for the safety and convenience of farm guests.

“Ron and Judy are proud of their safe, sustainable farm practices that protect the health and well-being of their family, farm associates and valued guests. This makes it possible for guests to walk their farm, eat farm-grown fruits, and enjoy coffee and tea with confidence in your safety.”

Private Farm Tours personally conducted by Judy and Ron (available by appointment on Friday, Saturday and Sunday) include Coffee Tour & Tasting, Tea Tour & Blend Creation and the Exotic Plant Tour.

Judy Paulson takes a break from the Farm Tour to join us.

Show 532, July 1, 2023: Dewlson Family Farm, Santa Maria with Judy Paulson Part Two

Judy Paulson of Dewlson Family Farm

Dewlson Family Farm in Santa Maria is the “retirement project” of active husband and wife, (first generation farmers) Ron Dewey and Judy Paulson. Both are retired from long careers with the Navy. It’s a family-owned, working farm established in 2010 designed to be an “Oasis of Experience” where people come to explore, learn, and relax. On the Farm Ron & Judy grow Lisbon Lemons, five varieties of premium Arabica coffee beans sourced from The Big Island of Hawaii and three varieties of tea from renowned regions of China.

Currently visits are by appointment only for the safety and convenience of farm guests.

“Ron and Judy are proud of their safe, sustainable farm practices that protect the health and well-being of their family, farm associates and valued guests. This makes it possible for guests to walk their farm, eat farm-grown fruits, and enjoy coffee and tea with confidence in your safety.”

They are active stewards of the land. For instance they collect all the rain water on the farm to satisfy their irrigation needs through systems designed and constructed by Ron.

Private Farm Tours personally conducted by Judy and Ron (available by advance appointment on Friday, Saturday and Sunday) include Coffee Tour & Tasting, Tea Tour & Blend Creation and the Exotic Plant Tour.

Judy Paulson takes a second break from minding the Lisbon Lemons to continue with us.

Show 528, June 3, 2023: Napua Restaurant at Mauna Lani Beach Club, Waikoloa Village, The Big Island of Hawaii

Brandon Lee of Napua Restaurant

Hidden away inches from the sand, overlooking the gorgeous Makaiwa Bay and historic Kalahuipuaʻa fishponds you will find Napua Restaurant (open daily for Lunch and Dinner) at the Mauna Lani Beach Club. “Owners Brandon and Chef Keoni (Brothers-in Law) strive to bring back the nostalgia of old Hawaii with new techniques and a fresh twists on the classics. With a true farm-to-table concept the restaurant offers dishes sourced directly from Kaunamano Farms (owned and operated by Brandon and Chef Keoni) and other small local farmers in order to perpetuate a more sustainable Hawaii.” Think farm-raised pork from pampered Berkshire pigs. Experience their Hawaii which is a memorable contrast to dining at the exclusive, high-end restaurants at the nearby Kohala Coast destination resorts.

“At one time, Napua was a private club for homeowners within the Mauna Lani Resort, and exclusive access was provided as a benefit to them. Now, the resort security gate is open to the public at 5 p.m. when the restaurant is open, and beach and restaurant parking is limited to homeowners during the day.”

“For Lunch, daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. parking is at the Kalahuipuaa Historic Park on Pauoa Rd. across from the Mauna Lani Spa & Fitness Center. The restaurant is a short walk away along the beachfront and historic fishponds of Kalahuipuaa, and it’s the perfect way to whet your appetite as this area was once used to cultivate fish for the alii, or the rulers of the land. Sunset cocktails and dinner are served from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and is accessible by car from the end of South Kaniku Drive with complimentary parking and a breathtaking ocean view.”

Joining us from Napua is Co-owner (and Farmer) Brandon Lee.

Show 524, May 6, 2023: Honoka’a Chocolate Co., Hawaii, with Founder Mike Pollard

Mike Pollard of the Honokoa Chocolate Company

Mike and Rhonda Pollard’s Honoka’a Chocolate Co. is located on the Hamakua coast of the Big Island of Hawai’i at Kahi Ola Mau Farm. Their farm has a rich history in Hamakua district town of Honoka’a. Located mauka (towards Mauna Kea) from Honoka’a in an area known as Ahualoa, the 5 acres the Pollards call home was first purchased by the sugar plantation doctor sometime in the 1920s. They are the fourth resident and keeper of this beautiful property and have transformed it into a working farm.” Two and one-half acres are planted in cacao.

“Starting in January 2018, Honoka’a Chocolate Co. began offering farm tours and tastings of their artisan chocolates that are made right there on the farm. In February of this year most of the production shifted to their new state of the art production facility and retail store on Mamane Street in the heart of Historic Honokaa Town. Honoka’a Chocolate Co has received a total of 29 international awards for their premium chocolates over the last two years.”

“Their current tastings on the farm include five of their signature products, including chocolates from Hawaii as well as other regions from around the world.  Guests will experience how a particular region’s climate, soils and terrain affect the taste of the chocolate, “the terroir” as winemakers have so famously coined the term. The state of Hawai’i is the only place in the US where cacao grows fruitfully, some calling it the “North Pole” of the cacao growing region.” The farm tour at Kahi Ola Mau Farm concludes with a visit to their nearby, new production facility located on the main street of historic Honokaa Town.

Mike Pollard is our guide to some of the best chocolate in the World.

Show 523, April 29, 2023: Show Preview with Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris

BIg Island Chocolate Festival

Aloha from the 10th Big Island Chocolate Festival at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii. After a four-year hiatus we’re delighted to be back at this educational and entertaining celebration of all decadent things chocolate and cacao!

“The inaugural, first of its kind Pizza City Fest Los Angeles takes place April 29-30, 2023 at L.A. LIVE – Downtown Los Angeles’ Sports and Entertainment District – offering fans the unique opportunity to sample pizzas from Southern California’s best pizza makers all in one location over two days. Steve Dolinsky – a 13-time James Beard Award-winning food reporter and “The Food Guy” at NBC 5 Chicago – has turned his love of pizza into an all-encompassing endeavor. Now he has brought that same experience to Los Angeles (as he did last year in Chicago) and showcase the diversity – in both geography and styles – that the region exemplifies.” VIP for both days is already sold out. Limited tickets are available for Saturday with better availability for Sunday.

The celebrated Kanekoa Family on The Big Island of Hawaii have been cooking professionally for 3 generations. Jason Kanekoa is the long-time Executive Chef at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort. His son, Ocean Kanekoa, is a past poke champion of the Hawaii Island Aloha Festival. During the pandemic Ocean created baskets of local farmers fruits and vegetables that he sold in an online store to benefit the struggling farmers who had lost their customers due to the closure of all restaurants and hotels. Ocean and his older sister, Jaydene, (Senior Marketing Manager for Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort) were part of the group of promising young chefs selected to compete on the first season of Peacock’s “Top Chef Family Style.” Chef Ocean’s goal is to open his own restaurant by Age 18. We’ll meet the already accomplished Ocean and Jaydene Kanekoa.

Kona Cacao Association is the creator of the Big Island Chocolate Festival. “The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Island of Hawaii by presenting the Big Island Chocolate Festival as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts.” The Founder of the Kona Cacao Association, Farsheed Bonakdar, is our guest.

Master Pastry Chef and Chocolatier Stephane Treand is again participating in The Big Island Chocolate Festival on Saturday with the creation of a magnificent all chocolate showpiece designed to stun party guests and serve as a stunning buffet centerpiece. Tréand’s prestigious Pastry School in Tustin, California instructs students of all abilities in the pastry and baking arts. The finished creation will be a key feature on display at the Saturday Gala from 6-10 p.m.

The talented Culinary Team at the Fairmont Orchid is one of the participating restaurants in the Saturday Night Gala at The Big Island Chocolate Festival. “The vistas alone are worth a leisurely evening at Brown’s Beach House, The Fairmont Orchid’s AAA Four Diamond signature restaurant. Perched above Pauoa Bay, the celebrated fine dining venue takes in one of the island’s most spectacular sunset panoramas.” Representing the Fairmont Orchid is their Executive Sous Chef Daniel Sampson who is also an acclaimed pastry chef. Chef Daniel holds the honor of being Pastry Chef of The Year 2019 by ACF Kona Kohaha Chefs Association

Executive Chef Jayson Kanekoa heads the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort’s progressive culinary program overseeing all food and beverage outlets, including the signature Hawaii Calls restaurant. His expertise permeates all the resort’s restaurant and catering menus. Chef Jayson is the Host Chef for the Big Island Chocolate Festival. 95 per cent of the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort’s food and beverage offerings are proudly locally sourced. Chef Jason started at the property as a cook’s helper way back in 1986 and in 2014 was promoted to Executive Chef.

Chef Jason Kanekoa joins us with a freshly brewed cup of Kona Coffee in hand.

All of this and heaping helpings of extra deliciousness on this week’s not-to-miss show!

Show 523, April 29, 2023: Farsheed Bonakdar, Founder, Kona Cacao Association – Producer of the Big Island Chocolate Festival

Farsheed Bonakdar of the Kona Cacao Association

Kona Cacao Association is the creator of The Big Island Chocolate Festival. “The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Island of Hawai‘i by presenting the Big Island Chocolate Festival as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts.”

“This year’s beneficiaries of The Big Island Chocolate Festival include Hawaii college culinary programs, Hawaii Institute of Pacific Agriculture, Kona Dance & Performing Arts and Keahole Center for Sustainability.”

“In-person activities at The Chocolate Festival include culinary demonstrations for the home cook, cacao growing and processing seminars by industry experts, a new VIP-PLUS pre-gala Sunset & Pupu Pairing and a festive evening gala with culinary booths serving sweet and savory chocolate creations, chocolate fountain, entertainment, dancing, a silent auction and some surprises! Guests can enjoy unlimited wine, beer and a custom spritzer by Ola Brew, iced tea and coffee.”

The Founder of the Kona Cacao AssociationFarsheed Bonakdar, is our guest.

Show 523, April 29, 2023: Executive Chef Jayson Kanekoa, Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort

Jason Kanekoa of the Marriott Waikoloa Beach Resort

Executive Chef Jayson Kanekoa heads the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort’s progressive culinary program overseeing all food and beverage outlets, including the signature Hawaii Calls restaurant. His expertise permeates all the resort’s restaurant and catering menus. Chef Jayson is the Host Chef for the Big Island Chocolate Festival. Unusually 95 per cent of the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort’s food and beverage offerings are locally sourced.

“Chef Jason attributes his passion for fresh, locally influenced cuisine to his upbringing in Kukuihaele on the Big Island of Hawaii. He attended the culinary program at Kapiolani Community College on Oahu before honing his culinary talents at the 297-room Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. Kanekoa climbed the ranks to his position today from his entry as a cook’s helper in 1986, to becoming a supervisor, to being named Executive Sous Chef in 2000.” He was promoted to Executive Chef in 2014.” 

Chef Jason Kanekoa joins us with a freshly brewed cup of hand-selected Kona Coffee in hand.