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Celebrity pastry chefs top three-day Big Island Chocolate Festival

The 2013 Big Island Chocolate Festival offers three days of chocolate activities culminating with the festival gala, 5:30-10 p.m., Saturday, March 23, at The Fairmont Orchid. In addition to savory and sweet culinary offerings prepared by top chefs and confectioners, explore chocolate-infused wines and a mole bar and salad. Chef Donald Wressell of Guittard chocolates and Chef Christophe Feyt, soon-to-be executive pastry chef at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino will be featured at Saturday culinary demonstrations, and Chef Wressell is creating a 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.

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 soiree offers pupus prepared by Monstera, Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant and Bar, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Just Tacos Mexican Grill and Cantina. 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.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc., BICF benefits the $1 million “Equip the Kitchen” campaign for the future Hawai‘i 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 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 938-2243. To reserve a chocolate plantation tour, phone 322-2626; for details on seminars and online ticket sales, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com. For more information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com.