Saturday | November 18, 2017
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Cooks shine at pupu contest

The recent PupuPalooza contest was the closing event for this year’s Puna Culinary Festival. It was held at Kalani Oceanside Retreat’s EMAX building. Twelve contestants competed for the People’s Choice award, the Best Overall Pupu, the Most Creative, Best Presentation, and Best Use of Local Organic Ingredients.

With “ulu,” or breadfruit, in season, there were two entries using ulu — one sliced and fried in avocado oil and served with a honey, mango sauce, and another boiled and mixed with salted cod.

Most dishes were well-thought of, with combinations that were quite interesting. One dish was a rabbit won ton served with li hing mui, fresh fruit and honey sauce. The rabbit was raised locally at 5B Farms. Another featured avocado and kim chee pot stickers, which worked well together. Local ahi tuna satay was done perfectly, just under-cooked and served with a mayonnaise, lemon juice, tamari, sugar and wasabi sauce.

The chef of Kalani prepared vichyssoise using locally grown leeks, “gado-gado,” and a tempeh-tofu and star fruit satay.

Winner of both the People’s Choice and Best Overall Pupu was Lori Kong from Aloha Lehua Café. Lori comes from a family of cooks. Her family ran Holoholo Stop in Kahaluu, Oahu, and Kahele Hawaiian Foods in Temple Valley, Oahu. She currently shares a spot in the former Kentucky Fried Chicken in Pahoa town with Mauka/Makai Restaurant. She has worked with Alu Like, teaching 15- to 17-year-olds how to cook, can be seen at the Kalapana Night Market at Uncle Robert’s on Wednesday nights, at Maku‘u Market on Sundays, and First Fridays in downtown Hilo. The overall winner received a beautiful trophy and $100 gift certificate from the King’s Shops at Waikoloa, and being the People’s Choice winner, Lori also won a gift certificate from Suisan. This is what you call a sweep!

Lori’s signature dish was Hawaiian tacos with homemade wonton chips, covered with kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon, and Lori’s secret pineapple sauce. She introduced her newest sauce, which had some heat in it.

The Most Creative award went to Ellen Einhorn who used local purple sweet potato, avocado and ahi poke. With much pride for her entry, she was very adamant about making a few at a time because the poke needed to be cold.

Best Presentation went to William Butako with his chicken and tofu curry spring rolls with pineapple and peanut sauce. His spring rolls really impressed because they were shaped like little pouches. He carved a couple of fruits as part of his table decor, which helped him win the presentation category.

Best use of local organic ingredients went to Josef Schneider, from Kalani, who made a raw vegan “egg” salad, which was presented on baby kale leaves. All of his ingredients came from the Kalani garden. The salad was made with macadamia nuts, with turmeric, curry, and spring onions. It really tasted like an egg salad!

Thank you to sponsors Suisan Co. Ltd., KAPA Radio, Big Island Weekly, The Hawaii Tourism Authority, the County of Hawaii and Kalani for putting on an event featuring local products.


The Hawaii Community College cafeteria is open from Tuesday through Friday from 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Call 934-2559 for specials of the day. The Ohana Corner Café is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. They serve great breakfasts and morning bento for $4.25 for a small and $5.25 for a large bento. Please support the first- and second-year students in the culinary department.

The 18th annual Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range will be held from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Tickets are $40 presale and $60 at the door.

Dry-aged, grass-finished beef, from local, humanely raised cattle that have spent their entire life eating grass after being weaned. They are free of antibiotics and hormones and therefore, lower in fat and calories, with beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and one of the richest sources of conjugated linoleic acid (CIA) with claims of anti-cancer properties.

If you want to learn how to use and prepare 100 percent pasture-raised beef, there is a class for you. Hubert Des Marais, executive chef of The Fairmont Orchid will be this year’s guest presenter at 3 p.m. and it’s only $10.

Get your tickets online at, or call (808) 969-8228.

If you live on the east side of the island and do not want to drive back, the Hilton Hawaiian Village is offering a special of $229 per room on Oct. 4, which includes two tickets to the Taste of the Hawaiian Range. That is a bargain, since the tickets cost $40 or $80 for two. You will paying only $149 for the room.

Taste of Hilo tickets are now available at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce office for $45 presale and $65 at the door. Call 934-0177 and talk to Lei Momi Fujiyama-Pillers for tickets or email her at A portion of the event proceeds will go to support the Hawaii Community College. This year, Chef Colin Nakagawa of Seaside Restaurant will be preparing Hawaii Kampachi, raised commercially by Blue Mariculture at the Natural Energy Lab at Keauhole, Kona. Research and aqua farming has made it possible to eat kahala as I remember when I was growing up, we did not eat kahala because of ciquatera.

Please feel free to e-mail me at if you have a question. Bon appetit until next week.


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