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Celebrity pastry chefs headline Chocolate Festival

<p>The Big Island Chocolate Festival promises to be a fun event. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BIG ISLAND CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL FOR NHN</p>

The Big Island Chocolate Festival promises to be a fun event. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BIG ISLAND CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL FOR NHN

The 2013 Big Island Chocolate Festival will offer three days of chocolate activities culminating with the festival gala 5:30-10 p.m. Saturday, March 23 at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii.

Headlining this second annual festival is Chef Donald Wressell of Guittard chocolates and Chef Christophe Feyt, soon-to-be executive pastry chef at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino. Both celebrity chefs will be featured at Saturday culinary demonstrations and Chef Wressell is creating a delicious chocolate sculpture at the March 23 gala.

A Washington resident, Wressell was named Pastry Chef of the Year at the 2005 National Pastry Team Championships. Feyt recently served on the U.S. team that took fourth place in the Coupe Du Monde de la Patisserie—the prestigious World Pastry Cup Festival in France.

Wressell will also appear at the Big Island Chocolate Festival Prelude 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 21 at The Shops at Mauna Lani. The early-evening event offers pupus prepared by Monstera, Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant and Bar, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Just Tacos Mexican Grill and Cantina. Sampling Guittard chocolates and a variety of wine, along with the chance to talk story with Chef Wressell, will highlight the evening along with live entertainment by the Bill Noble Trio. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door and available for purchase at The Shops at Mauna Lani 4D Movie Ride and the management office.

Also on the three-day chocolate adventure are cacao plantation tours at the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory in Keauhou and a compelling lineup of seminars and demonstrations, plus a student competition at The Fairmont.

During the gala, vote for the People’s Choice Award from a host of categories including mouth-watering bonbons. Also enjoy live entertainment by Bump City, chocolate body painting, fine wines and hand-crafted ales, including Kona Brewing Company’s Black Sand Porter made with local cacao. Also on tap is a silent auction with fun activity and dining opportunities.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc., BICF benefits the $1 million “Equip the Kitchen” campaign for the future Hawaii Community College-Palamanui and efforts to build a community amphitheater at the Waldorf-inspired Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua.

Gala presale tickets are $75 and can be purchased online, charged by phone at 808-329-2522 or purchased at Kailua Candy Company and Kona Wine Market. Tickets will be $85 at the door. New to the event are VIP tables of 10 for $1,000; buy online or contact the VIP coordinator at 808-938-2243. To reserve a chocolate plantation tour, phone 808-322-2626; for details on seminars and online ticket sales, visit