Monday is the deadline to enter the third Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest, which will be staged Sunday, March 16, at the Sheraton Kona Resort Convention Center.
A new competition category — poke with Hamakua Mushrooms — encourages the use of mushrooms from the Big Isle’s gourmet fungal company located in rural Laupahoehoe.
It joins four other culinary categories: traditional, cooked, poke with Aloha Shoyu soy sauce and non-seafood.
“The poke contest is all about sharing our favorite recipes and using local products,” said Choy. “Put your braggin’ in the bowl and enter to win prizes.”
Hamakua Mushrooms (HM) produces more than 5,000 pounds of specialty and exotic mushrooms weekly. The exacting, multistep growing process, which is done in a series of environmentally controlled rooms, will be detailed at the festival during a video. Attendees will also be able to see the bouquets of fresh, flavorful mushrooms growing in their sterilized bottles — Hamakua Mushrooms produces four varieties of shrooms.
“Contestants can source our mushrooms at islandwide grocers,” said HM co-owner Janice Stanga. “Our alii oyster and pioppini mushrooms are sold at Costco, KTA, Safeway, Foodland and Sack ‘n Save.”
Entry fee is $15 for amateurs and $30 for professionals, while culinary students can participate for free. High-schoolers can enter in a new High School Division and college culinary students are welcome to again vie in the non-professional category.
Suisan Company Ltd. will donate 15 pounds of fresh filet ahi to the first 50 entrants using fish. If a contestant wants additional ahi, it will be offered at wholesale price. Suisan also offers seafood to contestants at a wholesale price.
Find contest entry forms at www.SamChoysKeauhouPokeContest.org.
The poke contest fun is set for 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and includes Hawaii Island Marketplace, a “Poke Throw Down,” a celebrity “Poke Chop” cookoff, guest speakers, entertainment by Royal Hawaii Band Kona and cultural demonstrations. Public poke tasting will start at 12:30 p.m.
Public admission to all contest activities is $5 (limit of five poke tastes) or $10 for an event bag and unlimited tastes until gone. Keiki younger than 12 are free. Proceeds benefit the Equip the Kitchens Campaign for the future Hawaii Community College-Palamanui campus.
Last year’s contest donated $5,000 to the effort.
A free trolley will operate from Keauhou Shopping Center, near Longs Drugs.