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A chocolate fest on the Big Island shows off confectionery skill

A May 7-9 chocolate festival on Hawaii's Big Island celebrates the sweet stuff

Think of chocolate and you think of Belgium, not the Big Island, but the Hawaiian confection will take center stage May 7-9 at a festival.

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is scheduled for various venues on Hawaii, home to several farmers who grow cacao, the bean from which chocolate is made.

Events are set to begin at 9 a.m. on May 7 with a hands-on chocolate-making class taught by Una Greenaway at her Kuaiwi Farm in Captain Cook. The cost is $50. Call (808) 328-8888 to reserve a seat.

Those who prefer eating chocolate to making it will enjoy that evening’s Chocolate Soiree, a seven-course meal hosted by Kokoleka Lani cacao farm in Holualoa. 

The chocolate-themed dinner will be prepared by Clayton Arakawa of the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, Scott Hiraishi of the Feeding Leaf caterers and Stanton Ho, an award-winning pastry chef. Tickets cost $125.

Several workshops are to be held the afternoon of May 8 at the Fairmont Orchid. One of them, “Hawaii Cacao Farming -- Tree to Bar,” is to be presented by Tom Menezes of Hawaiian Crown Plantation and Chocolate Factory in Hilo. Tickets cost $30 per seminar and will be available at the door.

On May 9, food service students from colleges throughout Hawaii will show off the skills during a chocolate culinary competition at the Fairmont Orchid. There’s no charge to watch the young cooks in action between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

That evening, the festival’s gala dinner, also at the hotel, will feature chefs, chocolatiers and confectioners serving up unique dishes at their cooking stations. General admission is $75 and VIP passes are $100. Tickets can be purchased online.

The festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Assn. Proceeds will benefit students of the culinary arts.

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